Trip Report: United States, Part 1

Since moving to Dublin in 2006, we’ve made the journey back to California every Christmas for a dose of family, friends and, usually, some much-needed sun. While we always look forward to these trips, they come with cost (aside from the obvious one). The two flights – Dublin to Heathrow – LAX add up to 12+ hours in the air, each way, as a part of 18+ hour days. Each year we’re faced with the choice of stuffing gifts (nothing fragile or too heavy or too big) into luggage alongside two weeks of clothes and personal effects or some combination of online purchases and mad shopping trips on arrival (always during the busiest shopping time of year). Crossing 8 hours worth of time zones hits us hard every time, particularly after the return trip. I’m lucky if it only takes me a week to recover. And on and on…

In short, the Christmas trip was getting old and we were increasingly coming away remembering the hassle and pain rather than the family time and holidays. Time for something different.

Meanwhile, the kids. The kids are growing up. Doing well in their respective Irish schools. Despite the news the rest of the world is hearing about Ireland these days, it has not hurt our small part of the education system… yet. Math(s), spelling, science, European history, European geography. Yes, a fine education thus far. And we’ve been here long enough that they have now received more of their education in Ireland than in the U.S. We have noticed, however, that they are missing out on some of the U.S. history and geography they would be getting back in the States. And we expect that someday they may need to know a bit about U.S. government, which states are where on a map and a few details of U.S. history.

Then there is my lovely wife and Cambridge University and a dissertation and a deadline. Research to do. Art to consider. Collections to visit.

And so, these three birds – the dreaded long haul Christmas flight to California, the perfectly understandable gap in our children’s education, and Facty’s art history research – needed a stone. And we came up with one.

Instead of the 8 time-zone, 2 flights (with Heathrow in the middle), 18 hour days to and from California, let’s try the 5 time-zone, one flight, Dublin – East Coast, 9 hour days. Less flying, less time zone traversal, less jet lag, no presents to pack (online only this year), new things to see. Washington D.C. for some history, government and Duncan Phillips. Philadelphia for more history, a bit of family reunion, and Dr. Barnes. New York for shopping, sightseeing, museums, and more history; and finally, Boston for some history, history and history.

Not a perfect plan, as we gave up seeing the family during the holidays and figured we’d miss out on some weather (ahem). So we made the difficult phone calls to California, penciled in a summer visit instead, and headed for Washington.

More photos here