On starter abuse and traveling with a starter
About a year and a half ago I created a starter, from scratch, using just (bread) flour and water. I was lucky enough not to need pineapple juice, and did not have to go through several tries before success. The starter I ended up with is a "stiff" 50% hydration starter, mild in taste and doubling in about 8 hours.
After about 2 weeks of daily feedings, I decided to try refrigeration for most of the week to save on work (and flour). This went of without a hitch and the starter would easily revive after a week or so in 2 feedings. Possibly over-confident I did not feed my refrigerated starter at all for 2 months at a time (I was busy and not making any sourdoughs). Still it came back no problem (refrigerator at 40F).
Then my vacation to Montana came up (I live in Northern California). I was going to be away for 5 weeks. I had read people's worries about traveling with starters, but I decided to give it a try. Always playing it safe, I revived my refrigerated starter to a larger portion, stored part of the result away in the fridge (I now knew this to work), and packed the remaining 100g in a small plastic container and stored it inside the cooler. The cooler travelled with us in the car to Montana for about 18 hours. When I got there and after unpacking, about 24 hours later, the starter had gone past its peak, and smelled quite alcoholic. I fed it, and waited.... It was happy as a clam and came right back. I baked with it after another feeding and the results were excellent.
The starter will now travel with me on a 3 day road trip from here to Oregon (Elkton). This is much longer, but we'll see what happens. I don't really need it anymore, but if it survives I'll give it to the friends we're visiting so they can have their try at sourdough.