Saturday, January 28, 2017

Preparing for the American Holiday

Marcus has already alluded to the fact that we have been recently travelling in the North America  (i.e. the USA)  and it is now time to relive the experience.

We hope you'll be motivated to follow our recent adventures in the next days because there were definitely a few learning points

Marcus and Agata travelled to the USA to take part in CES 2017.  CES, the Consumer Electronics Show is arguably the premier single stage for Home, Electronics and Computer announcements each year.  There is a US show and an Asia show.  The US show happens just after New Year.   It will be our first time there.

It's All about the Money

Jessie J: Price Tag

Despite rumours to the contrary our budgets are increasingly finite and our way to help combat this is planning.

We could not honestly justify the expense, or the extravagance of flying to the USA just for the 4 day CES 2017 show.

So we conspired to pack in the following extra activities

- Multiple Marathons and Exploring Los Angeles
- Test Motorhome Rental US style
- Learning about RV USA style
- Hiking
- Reconnaissance for a future Ultra Marathon in Death Valley USA

A Gamble with Complexity
Only attending CES would have been straightforward: just a flight, hotel booking and attendance.   Our proposed trip is vastly more complicated.

Can we actually find any Marathons in Los Angeles at the time we require?  How would we actually get to them?   What are the consequences of injury at any step of the holiday?

How are we going to take all the Sports clothes we need? How will we manage the huge washing load that daily sports generates and not just spend all our free time washing!

How will we document CES?  Do we take our Pro Camera gear or just rely on SmartPhones.   Do we attempt to document each day on the fly? Or leave Blog Posts for our return?

Are we confident to hire and drive an enormous  American motorhome?  Do we hire it in Vegas where CES is located or in Los Angeles where we propose to Land.

What hikes are possible in Death Valley?   What is the exact course of the Badwater Ultra?  Isn't the finish covered in snow in January, and we'd be in a Motorhome?

The Planning Concluded
Here are some of the decisions made and why.  We think fellow planners and travelers will find this helpful

Flying to the USA
We chose Turkish Airlines due to their flight price being almost half of other more usual carriers.  On the downside the plane route goes via Istanbul (Istanboom),  extending an already long journey to elapsed over 30 hours from Geneva to Los Angeles.

Turkish Airlines are known for good food, but the plane is low on snacks.  We were to find they had a Great Entertainment system on the 777 but hidden extras like having to buy a Turkish Visa in Istanbul to get to our hotel.

As old young people we'll be travelling with Rucksacks only.  We have to have the contingency of being able to walk on rough terrain with our luggage.  Rucksacks are the answer.   On the downside, Rucksacks dont fly well, their straps can catch so we need to put them in protector bags.  But those bags need to be secure enough to not fall open, because doing so the rucksack has no flight tag (its attached to the protector bag).

CES Registration
CES is a trade show and you have to register, qualify and be accepted and pay money.  Best to do all of this early.

Without daily Internet access our holiday will not work.  We need Google Maps practically at all times  (except whilst at CES).  We need to answer our daily emails.  We need to write a daily Blog! We need to keep in Communication with Friends and Family.   Our Swiss Internet SIMs are basically pathetic.  Luckily we've found and have for some time a 3 UK SIM.  For about 30 GBP monthly you can have a UK phone number, unlimited phone data in the UK and upto 12 GB / month Data Roaming in a large number of Countries including France, Germany, Switzerland,  Poland, USA  (but not Turkey!).   This SIM subscription is literally going to be our life saver.  Once again 3 UK.

Computer Equipment
We take the bare minimum because theft can not be ignored.  Our everything will be in a Motorhome during the holiday and anybody with a crowbar can get into a Motorhome in seconds.

Marcus plans to upload all Photographs taken during the Holiday to  DropBox Cloud so that in the even of Laptop and Camera/Smartphone theft the photographs are safe.   This will mean connecting to Campsite or chargeable WiFi  since our Phone Internet cannot be used for Hotspot outside of the UK.   We also make sure that all our devices are fully locked down.  This is a bit of a pain operationally:  Marcus' laptop needs 4 different passwords to unlock: machine, hard drives, OS, at every logon.  But well, that is the price we pay for living in a world with thieving barstards.   I will never forgive them.

CES Hotels
During early January many Vegas hotels will be booked out due to CES.  You would need to book early.   In our case we planned to hire a Motorhome which we would use during CES for accommodation and afterwards for touring.

Circus Circus has an RV park very close to the Strip, great for CES.  The other RV parks are several miles away meaning an Uber or Taxi to get from your RV park to a CES Exhibition Hall.  Circus Circus has a shuttle bus taking you right there and also CES attendee pass pickup onsite.

US Marathons
In the US we found that because running is so huge a sporting discipline there are a variety of enthusiast running clubs you can contact.  They put on several marathons and we selected Charlie Alewine Racing.  In Los Angeles

Running Gear
We will take all running gear with us.  You need to use the familiar. Quite difficult as multiple marathons and no guarantee of washing machine daily means carrying a lot of clothes, and tapes and creams.  Also need to take Running Shoes and Trail Shoes.  Somehow it all has to fit in our Rucksacks.

Badwater Ultra

We have aspirations to run the BadWater ultra marathon.  Well one day.  It's limited entry but we know one thing for sure.  We can keep on running! And we are very, very determined.

We mapped out the course and the plan was to drive (not run the course) to see how practical it might be.  This is winter time so just to get an idea of the actual roads and elevation.

In the Vegas, Nevada, Death Valley area there is an not an overflow of interesting Hiking Opportunities.  Nevertheless Agata has done some planning.   Using our Garmin Watches it is possible to put .gpx track file onto our watches.  So using an Internet Connection and a PC you can draw a route, place it onto your Garmin GPS Watch  (735, Fenix 3) and use this to guide you.

Hiking also means taking the correct footwear and headgear and lighting.  We plan to take all of this from our home in Switzerland.  Despite the extra bulk we don't wish to afford buying a set just for the American Adventure.  (If we did though we might goto REI for example).

And SO
So the time clock is now early AM of Thursday December 29, 2016.  Time for a few hours sleep before we board that Turkish Airlines plane to Istanbul and then onto Los Angeles.

The Holiday begins

Madonna: Holiday