Thirty hours on a bus.
It's a number that sounds daunting, but to many Utah football fans, the trip was a fantastic opportunity to see their Utes play in the Sugar Bowl without completely breaking the bank.
I was on the bus that carried 70 Utah men and women 1,783 miles to the Louisiana Superdome, and I now know from experience road trips that far don't come without surprises.
The trip started out strong, with a 6 a.m. departure from the Shopko Taylorsville parking lot. After cramming into a brand new double-decker Le Bus vehicle, the passengers were ready for 30 hours of movies, food, sleeping and lots of Texas scenery.
No less than an hour in, however, confrontation erupted. Disputes about whether or not the Utes should be playing in this bowl and what it will do for them in the future became heated and turned into a game of musical chairs to keep differing factions apart.
Once the yelling and fighting about whether Utah should or should not be considered a powerful program based on its appearance in two BCS bowl games in five years and whether or not Whittingham really bleeds Utah red or Cougar blue had finally subsided, the bus stopped as well. We were too heavy to pass through the weighing station in Monticello, Utah, and were told to turn back.
After offloading the trailer full of our luggage, we sat in the parking lot of the largest gas station in the small town for 2 1/2 hours trying to decide which 15 paying passengers to kick off the island and leave stranded until another bus could find them, at least five hours away.
After "Survivor"-style alliances were formed and people were ousted, the bus got word of a pardon, allegedly from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., and all people and suitcases were stuffed back on the bus to continue on our way.
To further heed our progress toward the Big Easy, our time off the bus got longer and longer each time we stopped for a food or bathroom break. Dumping the toilet in a parking lot in Albuquerque during dinner and then getting lost in Dallas amounted to more time not moving or moving in the wrong direction.
Upon entering Louisiana, the bus erupted in cheers. It was then, however, that we again realized it was still another five hours to New Orleans. The bus remained in high spirits, however, due to encouragement from local LSU fans at our bathroom break in Shreveport, La.
Once we were all back on the bus, we spent the next few hours driving through Louisiana via the surface streets rather than the interstates because the driver missed the turn, and we were able to catch a glimpse of life in the South.Pulling into the Big Easy on Wednesday ignited even more, and louder, Utah cheers, especially when we passed the "Welcome Utes" billboard. The bus trip from hell, as it was nicknamed during the 38-hour drive (eight hours more than was predicted when pulling out of Salt Lake), is now over. It was a fun experience, but every passenger was elated to finally be off the bus and on their way to Bourbon Street to celebrate the new year.