My two week (13 days if you want to get picky) vacation and trek across the country began March 23 and ended yesterday April 4. The general plan took me from San Jose to Salt Lake City to Omaha to Chicago to and finally to New York City.
The trip was both a vacation and a challenge. I lived out of roughly 3 cubic feet of luggage space for two weeks, a backpack and a small duffle bag. I know people do this all the time, but I haven’t, and the closest I’ve come was a large suitcase (probably 6 cubic feet) for a week. So for me, this is roughing it (yup, my life is hard).
A Numbers Game
One of the most exciting parts of my trip are all about the numbers. Cold hard data. In total I traveled over 5000 miles in two weeks (start to finish, back home in my apartment). It’s hard to get an exact number because of the varying modes of transportation I used to do it and the difficulty in tracking exact movements for non-walking modes of transportation, but doing some back of the hand calculations using data from Google Latitude (which I had turned on the entire trip), my total is somewhere around 5,271 miles.
The majority of my travel was via train, and the next biggest chunk was on an airplane. But I spent a lot of time on my feet, pounding the pavement in the 4 cities I visited. Thanks to Moves, I know that I walked 89.8 miles in 13 days, 15.4 of which was in a single 24 hour period while I was in New York.
I wanted to get as much as possible out of my trip, and that meant constantly moving from one thing to the next throughout the day. It also meant not getting much sleep, of course getting on and off the train at 3am and 5am in Salt Lake City and Omaha respectively didn’t help that either. Nor did my 6am flight out of Chicago. By the time I got back home last night I had been surviving on a total of 65 hours of sleep since the morning I left San Jose. Needless to say, last night and the next few days are going to include a lot of catching up.
I had a lot of great experiences throughout my trip and I ended up enjoying Salt Lake City and Omaha much more than I expected. Chicago and New York obviously were amazing as well, but I expected that, so it wasn’t as surprising to me.
Salt Lake City – Definitely check out the local breweries and bars, there is a huge counter-culture against Mormons in the city and it’s produced some really interesting people and places. If you’re into architecture at all, check out the capitol building, county building, and the library, they’re quite impressive. And the 2002 Winter Olympic stadium is at the University of Utah.
Omaha – I honestly didn’t expect much from this stop, but I was blown away by the quality of the exhibits at the Henry Doorly Zoo. They’ve put a lot of effort into creating truly immersive indoor climates (an absolute must for somewhere that gets below freezing several months of the year) and making the experience of seeing the animals as natural as possible. I kept having to remind myself I was actually in a zoo. There is a cool museum in the old Union Station building that details the history of Omaha and Union Pacific Railroad. Also, this is the midwest, get steak/beef something to eat at least once.
Chicago – I ended up getting a City Pass to get into a bunch of the great attractions in the city at a huge discount (almost 50% less than if I were to get tickets for each separately). I’d recommend everything included there. Go to a Second City show, and if you’re a fan, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me is recorded on Thursday nights.
New York City – I got another City Pass to start my trip, and saw all the sights on it except the cruise because I ran out of time. I didn’t get to see any Broadway shows, but that’s definitely something on my list next time I’m in the city.
One of the biggest challenges I had was keeping my iPhone alive. I refused to turn off Google Latitude and Moves at any period during the trip because I wanted to collect as much data as possible about my movements, and that definitely took a toll on battery life as I moved about. While on the train, I was always near an outlet, but on my feet it was much more difficult. Fortunately I have two mophie devices, a case for my iPhone 4S and a juice pack powerstation to recharge whatever USB device I needed. Normally, carrying these around would be a pain, but thanks to the cold weather, they fit nicely in my large jacket pocket. These two devices got me an extra 3 full charges out of my iPhone, and there were a few 19+ hour days that demanded every ounce of that power. They’re definitely something I’d recommend for people on the go as much as I was.