Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Planning Process

Note: This piece was written by Owen, and only uploaded from Jeff's account.

A trip like this does not come into existence overnight.  It has taken significant time and effort from each one of us to make this dream a reality.  In our continuing series of pre-trip coverage, I would like to share with you exactly what that entailed.  Think of this as part storytelling and part how-to manual for planning a journey of your own.

On January 31, 2012, the four of us packed ourselves into a Damon’s car and drove two and a half hours to watch our top ranked Middlebury Panthers Men’s Basketball team battle the Keene State Owls.  To objective eyes, the trip was a disaster.  Our Panthers lost by one point after leading by double digits throughout, we were heckled repeatedly by the Owls’ student section, and we got lost on the way home.  However, if you ask any of us, we’ll tell you that the trip was a blast.  We had all fallen in love with road tripping to sporting events.

Later that week, Damon and I were holed up working on our final paper for class.  As it often does with the two of us, the conversation shifted to sports and stayed there for a long while.  Pitchers and catchers were due to report in a few short weeks and we were both counting the days until Opening Day.  Around 1 am, the abstract idea of taking a trip to some ballparks came up.  We are each longtime baseball fanatics and the thought of visiting every stadium in one season was not foreign to us.  As the discussion progressed, we both became aware of the fact we had a unique opportunity the upcoming summer to actually make this happen.  Our first step was to make sure that it was doable given our time constraints.  We then spent the next three hours going through the MLB schedule planning a route.  At about 4 am we came to the conclusion that it in fact was possible, but even the two of us have limits on the acceptable amount of procrastination so we called it a night.

When I awoke the next day, it seemed as if the conversation the night before had been nothing more than a pleasant dream.  It’s always fun to fantasize about such things, but often nothing comes of these kinds of discussions.  However, this feeling completely changed in a matter of hours when we pitched the idea to Craig over breakfast.   Once I realized how passionate the three of us were about this, it was off to the races as far as planning was concerned. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, the three of us spent just about every free moment working on the schedule.  The first plan called for over 15,000 miles of driving.  We cut that down to 13,500 in repeated efforts to streamline the itinerary.  Also, we made it a goal to limit crazy long drives, especially those that would require all-nighters.  No one can do this trip without spending hours upon hours in the car, but we feel that responsible time management is essential to keep us all sane.

The next logical step was to get Jeff on board.  After some (but not much) convincing, he joined as the 4th member of our group.  Our ballpark schedule was set, our budget was estimated, and our summers were aligned.  We then decided to apply for funding from our school.  For me, this was a lesson in the power of persistence and creative thinking.  All along we wanted to make this trip more than just a summer vacation.  Through this blog and other multimedia, we have turned the 30 in 38 Project into a learning experience in writing, planning, budgeting, and using technology.  With some helpful guidance from Professor Karl Lindholm, we took our case to Middlebury’s Career Services Office and they graciously agreed to help us out.

After four months of work, we finished up our semester in the spring with all aspects of the trip planned out.  It has been a long couple of months since we left Vermont, but our patience and hard work is going to be rewarded starting this Friday as we begin our journey.  We hope you stay tuned.

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