Justin’s Thoughts: Day One

Day 1 Logistics

Greetings from the other half of the JZ Squared team: Justin.  I’m here to talk about the work involved in making the adventures Jamie posts about happen.  Taking pictures, learning the history, and staying at cool hotels is brought to you by the real work: driving and packing.  So that’s what I’m here to talk about: the things you don’t think are interesting enough to discuss, but dammit, I care enough to try to optimize packing, loading, and unloading times on this trip!

Driving

Let’s talk driving first, because it doesn’t matter how much you pack if you can’t even get there.  On day 1 we went from Houston to Amarillo, TX, which is about a 10 hour drive (without stops, about 12 with stops).  I ended up driving about 9 ½ hours of the drive, Jamie did 30 minutes—mostly due to her being unable to control the SUV at 80+ MPH.  Driving for so long is mostly just boring, but the real danger is as you get tired, it becomes very difficult to focus on the road.  We left at 6:30am, and I only had about 4 hours of sleep the night before.  I was fine for about the first 5 hours, but I was struggling to not drift into the shoulder in the later hours.  By about 2pm, I was semi-asleep and having a lot of trouble (micro-naps, vision blurring, difficulty focusing my eyes).  The best cure was to stop at a rest area, and rinse my face with cold water—it might be cliché, but it helped a lot.  After that, the remaining 3 hours went by without any trouble.  I was happy to finally pull into the hotel at 6:20….a full 12 hours after waking up.

As for the drive itself, there was a lot of time on highways that have 2 lanes (in each direction) and a LOT of trucks.  Houston was typical Houston: slow traffic that moves forward.  The drive to Dallas was uneventful and full of lots of nothing and trees.  Dallas was awful.  We took Highway 287 around Ft. Worth, and the construction was insane: narrow roads and slow traffic.  North & West of Ft. Worth was a lot of farm country and high speed roads.  The towns along the way have a lot of insensitive theological fire and brimstone billboards.  Like “9/11 was a tragedy.  But worse is coming.  Find Jesus.”  I think that one was the one that blew my mind the most.

I’m currently using Google Maps and Waze for my GPS’ing.  I don’t trust the path finding on Waze very well—it picks some really bizarre (and inefficient) routes when compared to what Google Maps will pick.  Waze uses crowdsourcing to provide information about upcoming road hazards or speed trap cops.  And it’s good fun to tag cops when you drive past to let the other law-abiding citizens to keep an eye on their speeds.

Regardless, we made it, and this was one of the tougher drives.  My advice: get lots of rest, stop and get water on your face, and don’t drink too much (or you’ll be stopping every 15 minutes).

Packing:

It’s only Day 1, so I haven’t had much experience with our packing plan but here’s the rundown.  We’re terrible at minimizing what we bring—we’re going to overpack and make more work than needed. Here’s our list of bags:

–         Clothes Packed Separately

·         Communal suitcase of toiletries, medicines, and other hotel supplies

·         Electronics Backpacks (one for each)

·         Swimming Bag (one for each)

·         Big Yeti Cooler

·         Snack Bag

·         Meal Box with Gas Burner and Freeze Dried Meals

·         Duffle Bag of Dry Foods and Kitchenware

·         Tent

·         Cots and Sleeping Bags (one for each)

It’s a big list.  But we have a packing problem: we’re gone for a month, and we’re going to be doing a lot of different things.  We’ve got to prepare for hotel life, doing laundry, swimming, amusement parks, and camping.  Unlike camping where you know you only need to bring items that will be useful for camping, we have about half of our packed items being dead weight at any given time.  So it creates a difficult problem of having a lot to take with us in the car, but only wanting about a third of it at any given time.

The new things I’m trying with this trip (aside from camping supplies)

·         Packing all toiletries together in one suitcase.  If we’re going to share shampoo, body wash, and other bathroom basics; why not move it to a separate bag?  Makes packing the clothes packs easier, because you don’t have to try to fit your toothbrush in after you’ve already taken out your clothes for the day.  The down side is that it’s another bag to bring into hotels.  But it makes our individual bags more organized.

·         Carrying the big yeti cooler to hotels is also a new plan—with enough ice we can keep beverages cool and meals iced.  However, it’s heavy to take anywhere, and all we use it for is an occasional soda or cold water.  While it is nice never having to use a hotel refrigerator (and worrying about keeping things cool on the road), I’m wondering if it will be worth the trouble.  So far I like the peace of mind it brings knowing we can grab a cold drink whenever we want on the road.

Successes so far:

·         We were able to get everything into the hotel with one trip (using the luggage cart).  It was loaded down, but we made it.  It felt like too much for two people though.

·         Bring trash bags and tissues for the car.  Sneezes are no problem and having a trash bag for any stray trash makes the drive that more classy.

Things I’m keeping an eye on:

·         We have a lot of bags.  I have a clothes bag, a swim bag, my backpack, the toiletries bag, and the cooler.  I only ever need one thing out of them at a time usually.

·         Jamie’s packing clothes into two bags: one of tops, one of bottoms.  While organized, if order to make an outfit, she needs BOTH large bags of clothes.  Seems very inefficient.

I trust this was incredibly boring, but I’m tired and trying to get some exposition out so future update can have some context.  It’s a fun first day and I’ll keep posting the exciting behind-the-scenes info.

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