Archive for September, 2010

The trip is now 37% closer than when it was conceived

September 4th, 2010 Comments off

Six months after the initial idea, and I’m more excited than ever about this trip. Hard to believe that it’s just nine or so months away!  The more I talk about it, the more I think that my idea of visiting every (continental) American state and Canadian province by car is a great one.  I’m pretty sure that I know how to cover the costs, but that leaves at least three major questions unanswered:

  • What should I bring?
  • Where should I go?
  • How do I make the hockey aspect work?

Let’s take those in reverse order.

A driving force in making this trip is my desire to play hockey in every state and province.  It’s not optional.  That makes the challenge far more difficult, because I also want to see and experience as much of the country as possible, which is most easily done during the warmer months — exactly the opposite of hockey season.  I think that heading north early in the trip and south later will help address this problem, since I believe it’s going to be more likely to find July hockey games in Canada than it will be in, say, Mississippi. (Not like it’s ever going to be “easy” to find hockey games in Mississippi…)

The far bigger concern for my hockey playing will be the logistics of coordinating my arrivals with game schedules.  I plan to fulfill my playing requirement in many cases with pickup games, though I’d really like to play as a sub goalie in at least a few organized, officiated games.  The ideal tool for solving this problem would be a database of all pickup hockey games in the USA and Canada.  I would then be able to write an optimization program and solve for the best route and timing.  Sadly, no such information archive exists.  Not sure what I’m going to do about this yet.

Many people have provided suggestions about places worth seeing and visiting on the trip. Parks, museums, and so on.  The challenge here will be discovering the off-the-beaten-path places that make a trip memorable.  They don’t necessarily need to be in rural areas, and they don’t even need to be the sorts of things that only locals know about — not there’s anything wrong with either of those options.  Two examples from my own experiences are Minnesota’s North Shore and Formal Hall at the University of Cambridge.  Suggestions are welcome!

As for what I should bring, I would like to limit that to what my car can comfortably hold with at most half of its back seat folded down.  I don’t want to stuff my car to the gills, and I don’t want the hassle of a roof-rack-mounted luggage box.  My goal is to bring just four bags: my hockey gear, my backpacking gear, my photography gear, and my computer.  Maybe, possibly, a fifth bag should be included with car-camping/hotel-staying stuff like a full-size pillow.  Maybe.

The first pass through the trip packing list is feeling pretty good.

The danger is not bringing too little.  I’m going to be in the USA and Canada, so I can always acquire any critical thing that is missing.  The danger is bringing too much.  To fight that, I must be willing to cut back to the bare essentials.  Plus some car wax.  Gotta keep the faithful steed looking shiny, ya know.