Road Trip Day 5

Attention conservation notice: More road trip stuff, mostly a very rambly brain dump.

The road trip has been going well so far, but I’m actually currently at home taking a short rest stop in it – the plan is to continue up north either tomorrow or maybe the day after.

I also changed my plan and added in a London stop. My friend Felix opened a bar a month ago but I’d failed to make it into London to visit since then. I made a joke a few weeks ago that if Trump became president I’d make a beeline for it and do some heavy drinking. Then it actually happened (which honestly I was expecting, mostly in a “expect the worst and that way all your surprised will be pleasant” sort of way), and I decided it wasn’t a joke after all.

The drinking was indeed quite heavy, so the rest stop is extra welcome on that front, but that wasn’t the main reason. The main reason was so that I can remove a lot of stuff from the car.

I think the biggest planning thing I’ve learned about road trips so far is that one of my initial inclinations was completely wrong: I thought that because a car holds a lot of stuff, I had to worry much less about space constraints and I could just bung everything I thought I might need into it and not worry about it.

This turns out not to be true, because the problem is that although a car has a lot of space, as the amount of stuff you have in it goes up your ability to efficiently access the stuff goes way down as everything gets in the way of everything else.

This means that a bunch of things I brought just because they might be useful are in fact actively harmful by their presence.

In particular I brought a bunch of books with me that I’m clearly not actually going to read on this trip, so I’m leaving them behind. I also brought too many spare shoes, some extra towels, some running gear, etc.

I’m also going to leave my laptop behind. Although it’s fairly light I still don’t like carrying it with me, and leaving it in the car makes me nervous even if I hide it well. So once I leave home again there won’t be any further blogging from me until the road trip is over.

One thing that I will not be removing though is my sleeping in the car supplies. I brought my sleeping bag, a blanket and a pillow with me and I’ve already used them once.

It turns out youth hostels are both better than I expected and yet still a bit hit and miss. The youth hostels in Penzance and the Eden Project were both lovely – in Penzance I stayed in a shared room, but the Eden Project youth hostel uses snoozeboxes, and they’re not really the sort of thing that you can comfortably share with strangers. But after the Eden Project I stayed in the Beer (it’s the name of the town. And as far as I can tell they do not brew any beer) youth hostel down in Devon. Or, rather, I didn’t, as I walked into the shared room and was met with a wave of body odour. I don’t think my potential roommates were at fault – it read more like the room was badly ventilated and inadequately cleaned – but whomever was at fault I didn’t really feel like sleeping in there. I have earplugs and a sleep mask, but no nose plugs.

So I set up camp in my car instead. It was still totally worth the money for the youth hostel because it gave me access to a fairly nice lounge and a shower to use in the morning (and I’d only paid about £10) but I’m pretty happy with that decision.

Another thing I’ve learned is that it’s really useful to have a smaller night bag that you can just decant stuff into rather than bringing your full luggage inside. I didn’t have a suitable one with me (my backpack has too many other things for that), so I ended up buying a knock-off Freitag bag when at the Eden Project, made by a Cornish company called Sourced. It’s quite a nice look, and has been serving me well since then.

My plan to get up early every day has been working in the sense that I’ve been getting up early every day, but if anything I’ve been getting up too early. Very few things seem to be open before 9 and most / many things before 10. As a result I’ve shifted my alarm clock an hour later for the rest of the trip.

But that’s really been the only problem I’ve been finding it surprisingly easy to get up despite running on very little sleep though (I think I’m averaging about five hours). The caffeine alarm clock helps a lot here (augmented with theanine). Who knows, I may even keep a schedule like this up when I get home properly.

Other than all that, things have been going well. I’ve been doing lots of enjoyable walking. The trick seems to mostly just look for bits of green that say Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the map and then finding a youth hostel near them. I’ve been quite lucky with the weather for that – there’s been some fairly dicey weather while driving and arriving at places, but the next day the weather has been lovely and given me some good opportunity to explore.

Though it turns out that I’m fairly out of shape for long walking. I’ve only been doing in the region of 2-4 hours per day and it’s left me with fairly sore legs. Some combination of not using those muscles that much (walking on the beach or hills is a lot harder than just normal walking, and I normally don’t do 2-4 hours per day) and my flat feet. Hopefully it’ll get easier once I’ve had a little bit of recovery and then some more practice. This was another reason that I’m relaxing my wake up time a bit – it turns out that daylight still lasts longer than I actually have walking time to fill it, so as long as I get going some time well before about 11 I’m basically not going to run out of time.

Anyway, that’s all for now. There may be some more non road trip blogging tomorrow, but if not this will be the last piece until I’m back.

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