So what’s this all about then?In a few weeks time, I’ll be heading to the United States and from there embarking on a small adventure traveling coast to coast by rail from New York to San Francisco. This site is where I will be documenting the trip. So it’s a travel blog? Yes, but I like to think of it as a multi-media journal. So what’s the plan? From my home island of Guernsey, I’ll be flying to London and then onto New York. From there I’ll be taking various Amtrak services making my way across the US stopping off at some of the major cities in the East, taking in the natural wonders of the mid west and ending the journey in San Francisco Bay. So why the blog? This is the result of a combination of things. First is a love of photography. Photography is probably the closest thing I have to a passion. Recently, I’ve found myself lacking in inspiration and motivation. I primarily photograph the Guernsey coastline, and as beautiful as it is, Guernsey is a small place and there are only so many times you can photograph a sunset over Vazon Bay. I’m genuinely excited at the opportunities for photography that the US is going to offer in terms of shear diversity. From the man-made wonders that are cities, to the vast range of natural sights – forests, mountain ranges, plains and canyons. It really does whet the appetite. So, the primary reason is as a means display photographs during the trip. So why not just a Flickr album? Another love of mine is reading. For as long as I can remember I have devoured tales of all kinds – adventures, science fiction, thrillers – I’ll read them all. More recently I’ve found myself writing small pieces. Nothing I’ve ever shared, but I do have a desire to one day write a book, but I’ve never really felt that I had a story to tell. The idea has always been lacking. Non-fiction tales of travel and adventure fills a large part of my library. I grew up watching and reading Michael Palin’s many travels – Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle. His writings have always inspired a wanderlust in me, one that has never really been satisfied. I guess this blog is in part a tribute to the sense of adventure that those journey inspired. Now I’m not for one second claiming that my own journey is comparable with those. Nor will I claim that my writing will elevate beyond the banal ramblings of someone that doesn’t really know what they are doing. What I am hoping to achieve, is to produce something that is true to my own adventure. Something that in the years to come, I can read to myself and remember the journey. There are a great many travel journals on the internet, and I’ve taken pleasure in following those authors travels, now I get to share my own. You mentioned ‘Multi-Media’ Ah, the final part of my list of loves. I like many men my age I love a good gadget – in my case these gadgets take the form of a laptop, a video camera, a GPS tracker and an iPhone. Together with an unhealthy obsession with the internet, I’ll be making use of all these to document and journal the entire trip. One thing that I will pretty much be guaranteed in America is internet access. The idea is to do my writing and updates when in transit and then upload when net access is available. I’m hoping to pick up a pre-paid sim with data to use with the iPhone, which will allow me to update more regularly through services such as Twitter.
So why America? There are a couple of reasons. First is that New York to San Francisco is such a classic journey. I’ve always wanted to do it, albeit by motorbike rather then by train. As I’ve mentioned, there is also the huge diversity, the constantly changing landscapes. Being such a huge film buff, the chance to visit locations I’ve seen so many times on screen calls to me as well. More practical considerations are simply that I can speak the language. I’ll be traveling on my own and this will be the first time that I have taken on a journey this but by myself. I’m looking at it as good practice for the next adventure. You’re going alone, and you’ve not been away before? I’ve been away plenty of times, just not by myself other then the odd weekend away and certainly not for on this scale. This whole trip is just about going somewhere. It is about doing something that actually terrifies me! For the last 10 years or so, I’ve struggled against depression. It started off as something relatively mild, more an annoyance then a hindrance. Each time it occurs, I have treatment and it passes. Then after a while it comes back – worse then before. Over time it has caused me to shy away from the ‘outside world’, to the point where I now suffer from great anxiety if I know I have to go out in public without the security blanket of my friends – people I know and trust. It has officially become a ‘problem’. I’ve spoken about the wanderlust that I feel, a desire to have some adventure in what has become a rather staid existence. This falls in rather stark contract with the reality the anxiety I feel when even approaching the edge of my comfort zone. Rather then continue to hide away, I’m actually putting myself in a position where I have to confront this head on. What to most people may seem relatively straight forward – jump on a plane and a few trains – to me is actually a huge mountain to get over. To put it in perspective, I get nervous walking into the town where I have lived my entire life. What I’m about to do is go somewhere I’ve never been, to a country with over three hundred million people, where I don’t know a single person on my own. Talk about jumping in at the deep end! Right now, with a few weeks to go. What I’m doing is just beginning to sink in. A huge part of me wants to run and hide, but an equally large part is becoming tremendously excited about what is to come. So what are you hoping to get out of this? I’m hoping to come away with some great memories, and some great photographs. More importantly, I’m hoping to find out more about myself and regain some of the confidence that has eroded away over the years. Is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward to? Ever since the day I booked the fights I’ve practically been glued to Google Earth scouting out the places I’m going to visit. In truth, I really have no clear idea about what I plan to do other then a few items on my ‘must see’ list. I’m particularly excited about visiting the Smithsonian, in especially the National Air and Space museum. What better for a geek then to see the world largest museum, complete with artifacts from the Space Race. I’ve also bought a ticket to see an MLB match – Rockies Vs Mets in Denver. That should be quite an experience, and I can’t wait to see how the atmosphere compares to a Premiership match. As cliché as it sounds, visiting the Grand Canyon should be fantastic – from a photography point of view at the minimum. However the thing I am looking forward to the most will be taking an old fashioned steam train through the Rockies. Last but not least – what’s with the name of the site? Travelingbooks.net was a domain I registered but never used. Given this inspiration for this journal, it seems rather appropriate.