Things I have learned #3256…

I’m relatively sure it isn’t that many, but I lost count and couldn’t be bothered to go back through my posts to check how many TIHL posts I’ve made already.

  • When travelling by Amtrak in the US, always book a lower level coach seat. They’re no bigger or more spacious than the normal upper deck coach seats (or expensive, as far as I can tell), but they are in their own little compartment which is a dead end, so it has the huge advantage of not having people walking past your seat all the damn time, especially when you’re trying to sleep.
  • Check Greyhound and Amtrak prices before booking anything. While the Greyhound is often cheaper, it’s far less comfortable and for some reason Amtrak tickets are actually cheaper if you book ‘em the day before you travel (or I happened to get lucky/need a cheap route).
  • While we’re at it, if you’re near a major city or transport hub and need to travel from a minor outlying town to another minor outlying town, check prices for indirect routes into said major city and then out to the other town again, rather than minor town to minor town. Example, La Crosse to Iowa City – over $100 and a ridiculous 24 hour bus ride for some damn reason. La Crosse to Chicago to Iowa City – $72 (train for $60, express Greyhound for $12), and eight hours.

These things I have learned this time are getting a bit lengthy. Need to think of something short and pithy.

  • White T-shirts appear to be more slimming than black..?
  • Taking my laptop and camera out of my backpack and carrying them in a messenger bag doesn’t appear to reduce the weight of my backpack whatsoever, and yet it does increase the weight of my messenger bag exponentially. Physics, you’re doin’ it wrong.
  • Americans do not know that hostels exist in their country. At all. “Wait, whu? You stayed in a hostel? We have those here?” Yes, you do. Some of them are awesome, and they’re cheap (ish, certainly –er than in Europe).
  • I knew this one anyway, but I feel it needs advertising. I fucking love the album Swim, by July for Kings. Look it up on Grooveshark.com, it’s all there and free and legal. Do as you’re told. Go, now. Not you, parents.
  • I’m still good enough at Chess to beat a guy who sits on the street in Downtown Denver every Sunday and plays with other like-minded chess players. First game, stalemate, second game, won.

I haven’t learned anything else. I was quite knowledgeable to begin with.

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Three months on the road…

Yarp, as of today (19th as at posting) I’ve been away for three months. That’s one whole month longer than I’d been away from home ever before ever. And stuff.

It’s funny. It feels like I’ve been away and travelling for a while, and yet at the same time it totally doesn’t feel like I’ve been away for a quarter of a year already. Last time I did a lengthy trip (the two month trip around the US and Canadia, for those who don’t know) by the last few weeks, the whole thing was really dragging on me and my travel buddy, and we both felt very much along the lines of “fuck it, we want to go home.”

Not so, currently. I’m not tired or worn out, or sick of moving around a lot, or bored, or anxious or missing people at home enough to want to dash back immediately. Maybe this has been because over the last month I’ve been staying in the same place, with friends, and that’s been somewhat restful and relaxing. I know not having to pack my damn bag up every few days and cart it half way around another country is a pleasant break.

I have also become desensitized to the discomfort of being on transport for long periods of time, and re-learned how to sleep comfortably on a Greyhound bus (no mean feat, I tell ya). A few days ago I did a five hour stint on a train, followed by a short 15 minute walk (with bag on back), immediately followed by another five hours on a coach. Was fine. Barely cranky at all. The guy sat in front of me on the coach did have the loudest sneezes I’ve ever heard, though (picture, say, a small firecracker going off not next to you, but placed just inside your ear). He also had a cold. This was annoying, as a combination.

I’m contemplating taking a train straight from the midwest where I am now, alllll the way to LA, which would end up being something in the region of 48-72 hours solid on the train. It’s not like the coach where it stops every so often so you can stretch your legs etc. But, while I’d get to see a lot of the country through the windows, I’m less excited by that than getting to at least explore the myriad truck stops and dive bars I’d find along the way if I went Greyhound again.

Speaking of truck stops, on the way here I passed Iowa 80, officially the world’s largest truck stop. Of all the things I’ve seen, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Sahara desert, that one has to be the most awe inspiring and breathtaking one. I mean, wow.

Wow.