Well, it looks like this USA trip is a go!
First off, I’d like to say a massive THANK-YOU!!! to everyone who replied, with offers of food, accommodation, adventures, and advice. Every one of you is fantastically awesome, as well as super-generous with your time, your food, and your bedding/garden/sandpit/daughter’s tree-house.
So, like they say on TV: APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED! (which doesn’t mean you can’t send me any. But if you do, I might cry.)
To be honest, I was a bit worried I’d only get three responses, one of which wanted to put me in a dungeon and one of which was only interested in Roo staying over…
So it was quite a relief, as well as a bit of a shock, to receive almost 170 replies. WOOHOO! Again, thank-you SO MUCH, everyone!
It’s taken me quite a while to transfer all this information from emails, Facebook messages and blog comments, and to put it in some kind of shape that I can understand. By which I mean, a zonking great list which is currently covering the dining table. So if you haven’t heard from me yet… don’t worry! No bugger has. 🙂
Anyway, I’ve been struggling with the problem of how to organise the trip so that we can see the maximum number of people, and do as much stuff as possible. (NOTE: ‘Stuff’ is a technical term for the wide variety of activities we could potential be involved in – which so far includes an all-day wine festival, a police ride-along, urban caving and some SAS-style manhunt training…)
Now, several kind folks sent me a link to this map, which has been doing the rounds on Facebook:
It gave me a pretty good idea about how I should start, so I dug a bit deeper, to discover the original article it was based on. And that’s when I discovered why planning this trip is giving me a headache.
Apparently, finding the best (or most efficient) route between several different places, is a popular logic problem known as ‘The Travelling Salesman’ or ‘TSP’. It is classified as one of the hardest puzzles to solve, because of [some crazy-assed science stuff that I didn’t understand], and of course the exponentialismness (or something similar).
Here’s a quote from the article’s original author, Randy Olson:
“With 50 landmarks to put in order, we would have to exhaustively evaluate 3 x 1064 possible routes to find the shortest one. To provide some context: If you started computing this problem on your home computer right now, you’d find the optimal route in about 9.64 x 1052 years — long after the Sun has entered its red giant phase and devoured the Earth.”
Now, he’s a PhD Computer Science candidate who specialises in ‘biologically-inspired artificial intelligence and evolutionary processes’. So we can probably trust him.
What this means for me is, I’m still stuck in the planning phase – which, as anyone who’s read my books will know, is normally the non-existent phase. There’s a reason for this: I suck at planning. It was the same before my trip around Asia – I maxed out my library card, hiring at least two books for every country we were hoping to visit. And I never opened one of them.
I appreciate that so far this has been an update that hasn’t actually updated anyone on anything. Yeah, um… sorry about that.
To make you feel slightly less cheated, here’s a comedy sign Roo snapped on the way into Perth:
Now, there are a few things I can tell you:
1) I’m sorry to say that, unfortunately we won’t be able to see everyone on this trip. Even if we had six months instead of three, I doubt we’d get round them all. Of course, as with all good books, there’s always the possibility of a sequel…
2) If you are unlucky enough to have us show up at your door, we’ll probably be imposing for two nights. By my calculations (and by the Power of Grayskull) we’ll be spending a day driving between places, spending the night we arrive, and getting to spend one full day boring the life out of our hosts with stories they’ve already read about, before toddling along the following morning.
3) We’ve both always wanted to go to one of those crazy college parties we see in the movies – you know, where everyone drinks beer from those red plastic cups and dances on tables and stuff. It’s, like, the iconic pinnacle of American culture for us. Honest! So if anyone has any suggestions about how to make this happen, we’re eager to hear ‘em!
4) Talks n’ stuff: I’m really keen to talk (just ask Roo – she can’t shut me up!) – so book clubs, libraries, etc – anywhere who might be interested in having me over for an hour, please get in touch with them and find out if they’re interested! Obviously I don’t charge anything, and I’m not trying to sell books (though I’ll keep a box in the car in case anyone wants one). I’m less about actual ‘book signings’ than I am about giving talks, as very few people will have heard of me – a signing at a proper book store is likely to be graveyard quiet, and, well, that would be pretty awkward…
So, thanks for letting me ramble on again, folks! I’ll try to convince Roo to share some more of her stunning photos next time, to give you all a bit of a break. And by the time she’s done with that, I might actually have some real news to report…
#3–you just missed the biggest college parties–spring break and lots of places have them–you need to find someone in college and they can throw a party when they know you are coming!!
D’oh! I had a horrible feeling that was the case. Fingers crossed we’ll find some place where the cool kids still want to party even in the holidays! I know I would… 🙂
Wow! 170 relies. You are loved! My thought while reading all was “keep it simple” – you just can’t do it all in one trip in this big country. Back in the 90s (when bus was cheap) my sister and I did a 3 week bus tour from NJ out to Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and back through Chicago – it was one of the best trips because the only “planning” we did was where to eat dinner on our own each evening. The bus company planned the itinerary and did all the work – the people on the “cheap” bus trip were a cast of characters (including us}.- good luck planning. Since you got all those positive and inviting replies, it sounds like the right thing to do! Maura K
Sigh! Always fancied going on one of those things! I love the way we travel now, which is deliciously spontaneous (read – too lazy to actually plan anything more than a day in advance) – but it would be cool one time to see what it was like to have everything organised for us, by te professionals!
I’m so looking forward to your visit (and was hoping for more than 2 days.. the dungeon is really designed for longer stays) 😉
And, since I’m a sucker for lollipops (get it?) .. I’m going to guess you read ‘The Cult of Lego’ cover to cover.
See you sooooon!
It WAS! The Cult of Lego… man, that is one awesome book. You should buy a copy to leave in your dungeon, just in case… and I’ll bring the lolipops! 🙂
Toss up between “Fabric to Dye For” and “Cult of Lego”. I’m leaning more towards Lego.
What you need is some local knowledge in planning your trip. Sometime east west travel is hard but north south is easier…depends where you are. Happy to lend my knowledge in a quick chat if you’d like.
Cheers Jessica! I’ll shoot you any questions I get on Facebook then! I have absolutely zero local knowledge. Actually, my general knowledge level isn’t that high either… but s’al good that’s what I’ve got you for 😉
The book you read cover to cover had to be the one about Lego’s. Actually I am writing because you said you’d put a pin in Southern California. I wanted to let you know that I’ll actually be in New England on September 4-18. Because of the law of averages, I’m sure that is when you are planning to be in SoCal (which btw is the hottest, dryest time of the year). I just hope something can be worked out. Happy travels, Lily
No worries Lily! I think by then the trip will be done – we’re more likely to reach you around the end of July/start of August – which I’m sure is every bit as delightfully warm… 🙂
Can definitely set you up with college party if you drop into The far northern reaches of NY state. Complete with beer pong rocket fuel punch and possible frat party hazing ritual!
Woah, awesome! That sounds amazing Annie! Whereabouts in NY are you?
The red cups are called Solo cups (available at any local grocery store).
Glad that you have so many fans who are eager to meet with you and Roo.
Hope that you’ll be able to fit a visit to the High country in your travels.
Emailed you a list of things to do in this area, hope you got it.
Looking forward to your Asia book.
Looking for college parties; Chico State in Chico California, is a party town. Easy to find parties going on. Plus you can head a hour or two up north to Whiskeytown lake, or farther north to mount Shasta and surrounding area for hikes and climbing. It’s beautiful up there.
Woohoo! DEFINITELY looking for parties! Though the US tour has been sadly delayed for while due to family tragedy, which has also meant I haven’t checked the blog comments for ages! Sorry about that! 🙂