Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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The good thing about a train ride is that most new IC or ICE trains in Europe have power outlets. So as the sun is rising in Luxembourg, I'm working on this website and doing more trip planning while sitting in a train headed for Brussels, where I'll take a plane to San Francisco.

I decided to take this trip at the last minute, and it wasn't my first option (but it was the best), so the flight ticket cost more than I had wanted to spend this summer and I had trouble finding a free seat at all - but I guess as a sort of "repeat offender" who has been to the US six times in two years, it counts as a kind of fix, to distract me from the fact that about 10 to 11 months a year are still spent in an office.

Written around 6:30am on the train to Brussels.

The train from Luxembourg to Brussels-Nord ran late, and it wasn't evident to see on which track the train from Brussels-Nord to Brussels Airport would arrive, so I ended up missing not just one, but two trains that were both departing within a few minutes of the predicted arrival. Not a big deal, since I had a time margin for such things (from the predicted arrival to take-off, I had planned 2.5 hours).

Still, this gave me plenty of time to wait in line for checking, then patiently answer a seemingly never-ending amount of "security questions", then check-in with my hand luggage, get a snack, and sit down at the gate with over half an hour to spare until boarding.

Written around 11:10am at gate B33 (with plenty of power outlets available) at Brussels Airport.

The flight didn't seem to end - but maybe that was because the distance between seats was uncomfortably small, and I'm not entirely over the knee injury that hit me last week. Thankfully, I was only flying to Washington D.C., which shaved a few hours off the flight time in relation to a direct flight to the West Coast. Of course the drawback to that is that I'll be stuck for two hours at yet another airport, and then spend three more hours in the air, before I finally arrive at my destination.

So what's my opinion about United Airlines? The Boeing 767 had one of the more uncomfortable seats I've sat on during flights, the food and drinks were plentiful and at least the main course (pasta) was surprisingly good for plane fare... UA also managed to arrive a whole hour early, which might have been nice if I had been in a hurry to reach a connecting flight, but clearly, I'm not.

Immigration was surprisingly straightforward... there was almost no line to speak of, I was just asked three short questions (and the couple that wanted to cut the (short) line were sent back to a different counter, so for once other people's shamelessness didn't pay off for them. Usually, it does pay off, and sometimes at my expense.).

I'm quite late with the route planning for this trip - on previous ones, I had at least a vague idea of which circular route I wanted to take throughout my stay, but this time around I haven't committed to anything yet. I did change my mind today that I wouldn't head to Yellowstone the fastest possible way, since that would probably put me there during the August 15th weekend. Instead, I'm now planning to head East first, and maybe be in the Canyonlands area (one of the least-visited ones in the Southwest) for that specific weekend. This would put me in Yellowstone starting around the 23rd, towards the end of my trip when hopefully visitation is lighter.

Written at around 3pm local time at gate C5 of Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.

When we finally boarded the flight from Washington D.C. to San Francisco, I was still over five hours away from my final destination. Thankfully (or maybe, luckily) I had an exit row seat, so at least I could stretch my legs, or bend forward and rest my head on my knees (usually, I can't because of the seat in front of me).

I guess compared to the first leg of the trip, time passed quickly. Still, I was getting tired and very glad when we finally touched ground at around 8:15pm.

Since there was no more immigration to go through, I just had to wait to claim my luggage, and then take the sky train (or whatever its name is) to the AVIS rental car counter.

I was on my way shortly after 9pm, and the 39-mile drive to Vallejo was relatively quick and painless. I still have to get used to size and manoeuvrability (or lack thereof) of the Chevrolet Blazer I'm renting.

It's 10:40pm right now, which makes it 26 hours after I woke up. I'm not as tired as I could be, but it's time to head to bed regardless of that. The alarm is set to 6:15am tomorrow morning, and I intend to head towards Nevada shortly after 7am.

Written around 22:40 in a bland Motel6 room in Vallejo, CA.

Miles driven: 39mi (63km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Motel6 (Vallejo, CA): $40.95