So today was a monster travel day from Salt Lake City to Denver. Five hundred fifty two miles, through some desert areas with wonderful huge mesas and dry expanses, then reaching an elevation of over ten thousand feet, experiencing a temperature drop of over twenty degrees, and actually seeing snow around Vail and the surrounding area.
I finally made it in to Denver after a few Starbucks stops, one in Colorado that was very beautiful indeed.
Two broad thoughts crossed my mind today.
The first: how does one manage time when taking a trip like this, where multiple time zones are crossed from eastern to central to mountain to Pacific?
Now, those of you who know me at all know that I like to maintain a schedule, and that has not changed on this trip. I get up at the same time each day, I go to the gym in the mornings, I have breakfast, and then I am on my way for the day’s travels and adventures. Along the way I have met folks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, gone on tours and had other engagements that were time-tethered. My initial dilemma was to figure out how best to manage my time on my computer and iPhone, as well as in my car while I was on the road.
My car, my iPhone, and my computer all update themselves automatically, so that takes some of the hassle out of remembering to actually change the time as a new time zone is entered. The problem is that this can get very confusing when trying to do certain things at certain times if you’re trying to, say, stay on your east coast schedule while actually being in Montana. One way to get around this is to just allow the devices to set themselves based on the time zone they are in, automatically, and then all your engagements and appointments should be on the calendar at the correct times for the place you’re visiting at any one time. I opted to do this for this trip, and it has worked out well overall.
The second thought has been around some of the mechanics of the trip, such as map reading, pumping gas, buying things, and recording parts of the experience.
In days gone by, one would have a paper map or a fancier paper atlas and would map out the trip, sometimes with a yellow highlighter or other physical tool. One person would usually drive while another passenger would be the designated navigator, reading the map and telling the driver where to turn and how to get to a particular destination.
Now, Garmin or other dedicated navigation devices sit on many dashboards and do the plotting and even the verbalizing directly to the driver, giving step-by-step instructions in a clear way. I use my iPhone and the map function to do this same thing, and I find myself wondering how I ever got anywhere without these electronic tools.
The same goes for buying gas, snacks, coffee or meals on the road. Cash was king at one time, and no one used credit cards or debit cards. Now, debit cards or credit cards are the norm. Soon new payment systems like ApplePay, probably to be announced at tomorrow’s Apple media event in California, will find us able to simply point our phones at an NFC enabled device (near field communication) listen for a small beep or feel a silent vibration, and go about our business, the transaction completed just that simply and quickly.
I have already found on this trip that I can pay tolls by throwing coins into a basket sans attendant, parking garage fees by going to an online site after I get home, and parking space fees using an app on my phone. It’s a very different world from the time that my family and I took a cross country camping trip from Georgia to California and back in the early 1970s.
Recording the experiences of the trip used to involve keeping a simple written diary and taking pictures with a film camera, getting the film developed when everyone got home, and hoping that some of them came out well. Now, I can (and do) choose to take some pictures in Instagram, post some to Facebook and Twitter, make journal entries with or without pictures in my Day One journal, or do a combination of all three while referring to notes that I kept all during the day in a Field Notes notebook. Of course, I’m also writing these blog posts to further document the details of the trip. There are many options for documenting on the fly as well as more thoughtfully later in the day.
What do you think about these changes in modern travel?
Do you miss the more hands-on approach to map reading, trip documentation, parking and paying for items on the road?
Do you just set your watch to whatever time you want it to be instead of letting your electronic devices automatically change the time zones for you?
I’d be curious to hear your opinions.
Good night for now, dear readers, from Denver, Colorado.
Join me for coffee in Boulder in the morning, won’t you?