I was asked the other day what does one do to plan for a big trip? This reminded me of a Tom Waits quote my Dad once gave me for the fridge “Ain’t got no spare, Ain’t got no jack, don’t give a shit Ain’t never coming back”., which reminded me of this little anecdote:
I was twenty and leaving the comforts of California for a winter of snowboarding in Colorado. This was my first trip planning experience, and it all started on the bleak flat asphalt out side of the Biggest Little City in the World, Reno, Nevada in my Dad’s modified circa 1965 Dodge A-108. The A-108 could reach speeds in excess of 55mphs (with a tail wind going down hill) – you laugh just wait. The excitement of cruising at peak speed with all my attention focused on the limitless view of nothing out the front window was breached by a loud thump. The uncontrollable fish tailing that followed was like the terror of turbulence in an airplane. Luckily the A-108 made up for its lack of acceleration in rapid deceleration. Once my nerves calmed and the blood returned to my fingers I had my first “oh hell” moment of the journey. Wouldn’t you know it – I didn’t have a jack!!
After a 5 mile bike ride back down the road and two hours of waiting, the tow truck broke thru the heat vapor rising from the well aged and crack black top. Needless to say the tow truck driver was not impressed. The spare was quickly changed; I was off again. It took 5 miles to reach top cruising speed again when, yes, the second thump was heard, and this was not the sound barrier. The results were the same, only this time I had no jack and no spare.
The math worked out to a 10 mile bike ride and a 4 hour wait this time. I was towed to the land of Kragen and well accommodated in the parking lot for the night. I set my alarm to Kragen hours, and was off in the AM with a new spare, a new jack, and thoughts of all the things I might need but didn’t bring.
Lesson take a jack and check your spare! I know you can’t plan for every thing but the obvious and simple preparations that can be made should be made.
Natty and I have received all our shots (Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hep A and B, Tetanus, and flue), gotten our scrip’s for altitude sickness, malaria, and the all inclusive Cipro (weapons grade antibiotics), arranged hotel accommodations for our first few days in Dar Es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania, purchased all levels of layers to protect us against the 4 seasons we will encounter on Mt Kilaminjaro’s 19,340 feet of fun, purchased medical evacuation insurance and health insurance, gotten a Tanzania visa, gotten a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees, and many other things. We have been reading a lot about the various ideas on places to go after the 8 day trek, 5 day safari thru the Narongo Crater and Serengeti, and week of lounging on the beaches of Zanzibar. We plan on spending at least a couple weeks in Turkey, and then going thru Eastern Europe (Romania, Hungry, Croatia, Chez Republic, Austria, and Poland).
In this ever increasing age of information the overabundance of fluff has really hampered my ability to make decisions. I started reading travel blogs on the places we are interested in and what type of accommodations there are. And now I can’t make a decision of were to make a reservation, there is always one more link to try, one more post to read. The more I read the less I like each prospect, it seems all the links I have read are full of fearful stories about safety, lack of cleanliness, or the writers disappointment of this or that. If I would have just looked in the guide book for a hotel in Dar Es Salaam I would have been able to make a decision quickly as there are 4 choices with little commentary. No, I had to read every horror story I could find and now I want to by pass Dar all together. Living outside internet bliss may actually make life easier and a whole lot more exciting as the unexpected would still be unexpected.