May 31, 2006

Army Corps of Engineers, where are you?

In my family we have a saying that describes anyone with impressive spatial-organization or visualization skills: the Army Corps of Engineers wants them. It comes from the fact that my mother, who was always the genius drawer-and-closet-organizer of the house, started college as a civil engineering major and was the subject of some recruiting efforts by the aforementioned agency. But it's far removed from the facts at this point. When I manage to fit a few more dishes in an overfull dishwasher, I grin cheesily and announce that the Army Corps of Engineers wants me! Figure out the right combination of buses to take to get someplace? Find an efficient way to organize your time? The Army Corps of Engineers wants you!

I leave for the East Coast in a week and a half. I need to bring clothes and supplies for outdoor work in all possible environmental conditions, general living supplies for six weeks, and a couple of hefty textbooks on field methods and the Iroquois nation. I need to pack it all up such that I can carry it on BART to the airport by myself, haul it out of the airport in Pittsburgh, and drag it by bus to the University of Pittsburgh campus to load it into a van. Later, I'll need to pack it all up again and drag it on another bus to New York City, where I'll at least have help in hauling it to Zach's apartment. And last of all, I'll need to pack it all up yet again and haul it via subway to JFK, get on a plane with it, hopefully not have to haul it around again in Phoenix during my layover, and emerge bedraggled and sore of arm at SFO to get on BART and come home. With the damn luggage.

Now, I'm as valuable as anyone else to a certain military entity which I'll just call the A.C.ofE. But even the A.C.ofE. is gonna have trouble with this one.

Posted by dianna at May 31, 2006 06:12 PM

dude, just put it in a rolly suitcase and you'll be fine.

Posted by: michele at May 31, 2006 07:02 PM

Good lord, woman, have you no sympathy?

I hate rolly suitcases. I'm going to try to put my stuff in my pack frame instead.

Posted by: Dianna at May 31, 2006 07:36 PM

Hmm. That was rather vehement of me, wasn't it.

Posted by: Dianna at May 31, 2006 08:09 PM

My general attitude towards trips is pack light, move fast. How will laundry facilities be at the commune? It might be worth it to take minimal clothes and plan on one wash per week. Or see if you can't buy some cheap t-shirts or tank tops in Ithaca and plan to throw them out at the end of your stay.

For upstate New York in the summer, I'd pretty much just plan for hot and humid. Maybe one sweatshirt to be safe, but it'll probably go unused. Something for rain would also be wise, though, again, you can probably buy a cheap poncho in Ithaca.

And in the meantime, you can always do last-minute arm and shoulder work to help with lugging your pack frame.

Posted by: Zach S. at May 31, 2006 08:27 PM

well, i have travelled many a time with a rolly suitcase on planes, trains, buses, subways, and ferries both domestically and internationally. i find them much easier to deal with when walking around (because they roll) and if they have the handle on the top and the side they are not so bad for lifting and putting in overhead compartments. and let me clarify that this has been both the smallish rollies that are the size allowed on planes and the size which is twice that size. my big rolly is what i took to greece and new zealand so it suffered a lot of abuse--but i survived and so did it.

Posted by: michele at June 1, 2006 12:45 AM

In contrast, I've taken a rolly suitcase as far as Los Angeles and wished I'd brought something else instead. I think I just prefer luggage that I can carry. Mind you, rolly suitcases are better if you're carrying things that need to remain unsquashed, but I don't think I'll have anything like that. Well, except my laptop, and that'll be in my bookbag anyway.

And Zach, I am planning to pack light, inasmuch as the emphatic packing list I've been supplied will allow me to. I don't think I can really plan to pick stuff up there, though, because from the looks of it I'm not going to have much free time. I'll be on the site or in the lab from 8-5 every day plus driving time, and in the evenings there's scheduled dinner plus lectures and homework. Since I'm starting with no knowledge of where anything is in Ithaca, my guess is that the first weekend will be my first chance to go out and get anything. And if I can do without it until the first weekend, I probably don't need it at all.

Posted by: Dianna at June 1, 2006 08:15 AM