Archive for May, 2011

Pre-trip Q&A

May 24th, 2011 3 comments

As the trip has grown closer, people have been talking to me more about it.  I’ve begun to notice some common questions emerge, so I thought I’d try addressing them here.

Q: How are you going to find hockey games?

A: Finding hockey games is going to be a huge logistical challenge.  My strategy will be to tap the people on various hockey forums for information about game times and arena locations in each city.  I’m not picky about the games I play.  Open hockey or pond hockey would be fine.  So would serving as a sub in a league game.  I’d even be okay with skating around during a stick-and-puck session.  I don’t have the right gear for roller hockey or street hockey, so I’m going to make an arbitrary rule that ice must somehow be involved.  Hmmm… On that line of thought, I’ll make up a few rules on the spot.  To qualify as me having “played hockey” in a state or province, I must have skated on ice in full goalie gear, faced at least one shot, and made at least one save.

Q: How long is the trip going to last?

A: Six months, give or take.  That brisk clip affords only a couple of days in each state.  I see this trip as more of a “sampler” than an in-depth experience.  I can always return to interesting areas and explore them in greater detail.

Q: Are you getting any sponsors?

A: I toyed with the idea of sponsorship and have talked with several large companies, but I haven’t found the right combination of relevance, philosophical fit, and mutual benefit.  The fact that I can afford to do the trip without sponsors has dampened my motivation to find them.  That said, I’m open to sponsorship if the right company comes knocking.  (I wonder if the IRS would let my company sponsor me?)

Q: What are you going to do after the trip?

A: The trip hasn’t even started, and I’m already getting asked this all of the time.  In fact, I get asked about my post-trip plans more than anything else.  The short answer is: I’m not sure.  The longer answer is that I will continue working on saving the world from blurry photos during the trip, and my hope is that I’ll have figured out a viable business model by the time 2012 rolls around.  It’s also possible that I’ll write about my trip, perhaps in book form, but that’s largely dependent on a compelling narrative emerging from my travels.

Q: You’re bringing your hockey gear in your car?  How are you going to deal with the smell?

A: Yes, I’m bringing my hockey gear with me in my car.  Yes, hockey gear tends to smell bad, and goalie gear has a reputation of smelling particularly ripe.   I plan to deal with this by getting a clothespin custom-fitted for my nose.  Seriously though, a combination of Febreze, diligently airing out my gear after games, and occasional spins in those specialized hockey gear cleaning machines should do the trick.

There are also some questions that I haven’t been asked except in my inner monologue.  I’ll give those a crack, too:

Q: What is your biggest fear?

A: Moose.  One or more.  I am terrified of hitting one with my car, since such an encounter at highway speeds would almost certainly destroy Sam and might gravely injure or kill me.  Coming in at a close second is my fear of having my stuff stolen while I’m parked somewhere.  Everything is insured, and I’m not bringing anything particularly valuable anyway, but replacing the missing items and repairing the damage would be a huge headache.

Q: What are your biases going into this trip?

A: I wish I could say that I was going into this adventure as unbiased as Lady Justice, but that simply isn’t the case.  I admit that I don’t have a particularly high opinion of the Deep South at the moment.  The heat, humidity, history of racial tension, and prioritization of religion over science have all rubbed me the wrong way.  Their relative lack of ice hockey doesn’t help matters.  I will, however, strive to keep an open mind, and I’m not opposed to having my perspectives changed by experiences or facts. For what it’s worth, these appear to be similar to the biases that Peter Jenkins had about Alabama when he began his walk across America.  Over the course of his trip, he grew to enjoy the South.  Perhaps I will as well.

Q: What place are you most excited about visiting?

A: This is a hard one, but I’d have to say Alaska.  Big mountains, large animals, long summer days — it’s all very intriguing.  Despite my romantic view of the state, I have no plans to stay there, and I have no illusions about “finding myself” or proving something to somebody.  And why in the world would I want to get away from society forever?  I love being in the woods, sure, but I have yet to encounter a tree that grows goalie pads.  Chris McCandless was a fool.


Proud Canadian

May 20th, 2011 Comments off

I was at Wells Fargo yesterday getting some quarters and making small talk with the teller, Sarah.  I mentioned the road trip to her, at which point she proudly declared that she was a Canadian.  How convenient!  (Also: there sure are a lot of Canadians living in the Twin Cities.)

We talked for a little while about my proposed route.  I described how I will be going north into Ontario before heading west to Alaska.  While Sarah conceded that western Canada was beautiful, she claimed eastern Canada was a sight not to be missed.  Perhaps she was biased; she hailed from Stephenville, Newfoundland.

[Fun fact: Newfoundland didn’t join Canada until March 31, 1949, before which it was a self-governing British Dominion.]

According to Sarah, the best way to see Newfoundland is to take the ferry from North Syndey, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, then drive the 600 miles across the island to St. John’s, and then take the ferry from there back to Nova Scotia.  The length of that drive caught me a bit off guard — it’s about the distance from Minneapolis to Indianapolis, except it isn’t a freeway, and there is a substantial moose collision hazard.

I’ll be interested to see how they treat an outsider like me.  I’ll probably stick out like a sore thumb.  Sarah claimed that people there will spontaneously invite me to their homes for dinner, simply because I’d be a visitor.  As a city/suburban boy, I have a hard time believing that actually happens, but I’d love to be surprised!  We shall find out in a few months.


New license plates

May 4th, 2011 Comments off

Sam the Subaru got new bling today, by which I mean that the new license plates arrived.

New license plates!

Appropriate for the trip, eh?

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Will it fit?

May 2nd, 2011 Comments off

One of the questions I often get asked is, “Will everything fit?” (That’s what she said.) Until today, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stuff everything needed for the trip into my Outback. I’m happy to report that I did a dry run this afternoon, and everything fits nicely.

With the seats up, no less.  And without blocking the view out the rear window.

As you can see, the hockey gear (giant red bag) dominates the cargo area

Unfortunately, a couple of things don’t quite fit in the cargo area.  My hockey sticks, for example, need to ride in the rear seats.

The hockey sticks have to ride in the back

Then again, they don’t fit in the cargo area even when they are the only items present; they’re just too long.

Likewise, my camera gear is in the main passenger area, but that’s part of the plan to keep it easily accessible for impromptu photo opportunities.

During the actual trip, I'll probably keep the camera out of the bag so that it's even more handy

I’ll admit that a few things were missing from this experiment.

First, I forgot about my hiking boots.  Those will probably go in one of the rear footwells.

Second, I’ll probably want to have a cooler and a cache of reasonably healthy food so that I can cook for myself.

Finally, I haven’t actually tried traveling with this configuration of equipment.  I’m planning to do a couple of short test trips before the main trip, so it’s possible that I’ll need to radically alter my gear manifest.

Still, this early result is quite promising.