Note the lack of any trace of bacon in the leftovers.
I waited until this morning to see whether anything else popped up, but the decision had really become clear last night.
I have just got the last tickets on my pass with a lot of help from the excellent ticketing staff at Union Station, Washington.
This is how it’s going to go:
I’m going to spend one last night on a train tonight – I leave DC at 10pm and get into Boston Back Bay about 8am then I dash across town to get from Boston North to Portland, ME leaving at 9.05 and then a bus from Portland to Belfast where I hope to get bear-hugged by Mr Neal Foley.
I’ve been promised a bed, lobstah (!) and good clean living – yay!
I’ll be there all through Tuesday and leave at 8am Wednesday morning, back through Boston to New York, arriving at Penn Station at 9.50pm (subject to the usual disclaimers)
So what needs sorting now is what to do in NYC from 9.50pm Wednesday until whatever time I need to leave to get a flight from JFK at 7.30pm Thursday. Fill me up folks! Who to stay with? Who to meet on Thursday? Whether to do anything Wednesday after I arrive – city that never sleeps right?
Reaching the end, I’m realising how tired I am. In comes in a few forms:
1. Ineffective sleep. Last year I thought it was bad with a 14-hour overnight from DC to Atlanta and the 32-hour marathon from Austin to LA. So of course I’ve pushed it even further this time. I’ve spent 7 of the past 25 nights sleeping in a coach seat (I think… my counting abilities may be suffering) – yeah, none of the journeys I’ve done have come without an overnight. That’s after an 11-hour flight during which I only got an hour or two. The rest of the time I’ve had lovely comfy beds to sleep in, but sleeping sitting up or even lying down across two seats almost 1 night in 3 is taking it’s toll.
2. Doing too much. I’ve found find it really hard to say no to stuff. That’s because I’m giving up control and asking for help, right? Well yes giving up control, but I realise that I have to ask for help around getting proper rest. That might mean having to say no to more stuff in the interests of self-care. On the other hand, I can’t imagine anything that I’ve said yes to that I’d rather have had a couple of hours napping over. And it’s not just other people asking me. I spent way too much time walking around Chicago the other day, completely of my own accord. I was just so wrapped up in being somewhere new and not having anyone around that I ended up walking quite a few miles. My legs ache. It’s good to have the exercise when the rest of the time I’m sitting down, but it didn’t do much for my energy levels.
3. Food. I’ve had fantastic, delicious and nutritious meals courtesy of my hosts and friends along the way. But I don’t normally eat in restaurants this often and I’m normally quite strict about what I eat and when. And although I’ve been careful, I have eaten much more bread, cheese and eggs than I would do normally, it’s difficult to get enough vegetables or salad except when I’ve stocked up at supermarkets and sneaky bits of sugar have a way of creeping into everything. I could have done more to make sure I had what I needed for breakfast every day – I always make it a priority at home, but I find it hard to insist on what I need when people are already being so kind.
4. Time Changes. I’m not sure about this one, but I think it adds to my tiredness that my body is a little confused about what time it is. I do always have half an eye on what time it is in the UK. I’ve also been through all the time zones here in the last three weeks as well as the Daylight Savings Change a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad that I’ll only have a 5 hour difference to deal with when I get back rather than the PDT/BST that I faced last year.
5. Just Travelling. It’s tiring in itself isn’t it? I always forget this. Just the massive stimulation of going somewhere new ever day. Meeting new people or seeing old friends that I haven’t talked to before. Not really knowing where you’re sleeping tonight or what you’ll be doing tomorrow. Stimulating, exciting, unmissable and exhausting.
Well not quite, but this time next week I’ll have been back in London for 24 hours.
So it’s probably time to start counting backwards from then and getting some ideas of things to do between now and Thursday in place.
My flight from New York leaves at 7.30pm so I’ll need to be at the airport by 5.30 I guess. That means if I want to do an evening thing in NYC with people I know, that will need to be Wednesday night. So the latest I want to arrive in the city is Wednesday afternoon.
I am currently scheduled up to Sunday afternoon, when Anne has offered to take me up to Philadelphia as she’s going there for a basketball match. So I have Sunday afternoon/evening thru Wednesday afternoon to fill.
I had hoped (and still do) to meet up with Neal Foley (@podchef) one of my longest-standing social media buddies (he commented on my very first podcast at the end of 2004). He now lives near Belfast, ME but it really is looking like it’s going to be too difficult to get up there. I still have 4 segments left on my rail pass.
So, simplest (at least in terms of travel) first. I could get a train from Philly to NYC on Sunday if I could find people to put up with me Sunday thru Thursday.
I could also get up to Boston on Sunday evening, see if there are folk to see on Monday and then come back down to NY for a couple of days.
The Maine option looks like Boston Sunday night staying with persons as yet unknown, early start on Monday to get up to Portland on the train then bus to Belfast. Two nights down on the farm and then Wednesday travelling back down to New York (7.55am start from Belfast – hey I’m staying with a farmer!) getting into Penn Station at 10pm (if it’s on time) just in time to party!
Hmmm…. it’s pretty tight ain’t it? (Also depending on how they count segments, it might blow out my allocation of journeys on the rail pass and mean some journeys have to be paid extra for)
No matter what, I’m going to need at least one night on a couch in NYC (Wednesday) and possibly somewhere in Boston tomorrow night. I also need help working out what to do, where and with whom on Wednesday evening (possibly early but also possibly 10pm-ish – I know, that’s early…!)
Show me the way, people! I’m going to go out and help Anne with some yard work while y’all work this one out for me. Call it… Solve it while I secateur
Thank you yet again for your kindness and hospitality during my coast-to-coast journey. You have cheered me along as I’ve plodded on, some of you have supported me financially, some of you have opened your homes to me, all of you have added to my experience in some way and I’ve never failed to be amazed by your generosity.
I’m still on my way (writing this on the train from NOLA to Chicago, it just got dark in darkest Mississippi) but in a week’s time I’ll be almost ready to fly home.
You may have seen my blog, where I’m chronicling the journey and occasionally reflecting on what I’m learning. I’m writing to invite you to take part in this project in a slightly different way and beef up the social part of this social art..
I would love it if you could find a little time to tell your side of the story. What did you see when I blundered through your life? Did you get anything of value out of our interaction? What were you expecting before I arrived? Did anything interesting happen after I’d gone? Did I leave you with anything? All these are just suggestions, they’re what I think I’m most interested in, but feel free to let rip with anything else. However, you should understand that I intend to publish your contribution on the project blog.
If you have the wherewithal to create a video piece where you talk about the experience to camera that would be great, but audio submissions and just good old writing would be lovely too. I’m using posterous so if you contribute something in a medium other than writing, you can host it on your favourite media-sharing site (youtube, vimeo etc for video – I like audioboo.fm for audio) and simply include the URL at the beginning of the post and posterous will render it appropriately.
Please e-mail something for publication to email@example.com . The subject line of your e-mail will become the title of your post – please include your name or twitter name there. Eg “That no-good dirty rascal by @catweazle” That will get it into the pipeline, I will review all submissions and probably stagger publication over a period if I get lots of posts all in one go. All content on the blog is Creative Commons licenced by-nc-sa. By submitting in this way, you are releasing your work under this licence.
If you have anything you’d like to say about the project that you don’t want published, then please just e-mail me directly.