I’m home again. 😴
California was great. I hung out with Sandi, perpetually bathed in golden sunshine.
After so long without travelling it felt very weird being back in America, or indeed anywhere other than the streets immediately surrounding my flat.
The vegan food options in both San Diego and Carlsbad — at least the parts where I stayed — were surprisingly poor. Most places didn’t offer anything suitable, really, and the rest just slapped an Impossible version of their normal burger on the menu and I had to remove the cheese. Wrong bit of California, I suppose. At least the local beer was good.
We chatted and drove and taught a class together, then she dropped me off near the airport and I was gone again, sunlight streaming across the runway behind me.
A good adventure. ✅
I’ve never been great at handling jet lag but I’m definitely out of practice. Before this trip my most recent flights were to Australia, California and New York in 2019, which is all the time zones actually, and my brain & body have since forgotten everything they’d learned about how to power through it.
Flying west is fine because to me it doesn’t feel much different from having a very late night and a luxurious lie-in the next morning; plus, you know, I’m in a new place and that’s inherently exciting and energising. Flying east is much harder because I can never properly sleep on the plane so the overnight journey is followed by a full day of being deliriously sleep-deprived under the suddenly-grey London sky, then a long tail of restless nights slowly paying down that debt.
Thank god it’s a bank holiday tomorrow.
This trip was a bit of an experiment in travelling light. I didn’t check a bag and took a single small backpack as carry-on. It wasn’t hard to fit a few days’ clothes and a laptop in there, and the only minor inconvenience was having to decant my toiletries into 100ml tubes to get them through security instead of throwing full-size bottles into a suitcase.
Basically I’m glad I did it and it worked out well, especially since baggage claim unexpectedly comes before passport control at San Diego airport, so I had the immigration line all to myself while everyone else stood around waiting for their bags like absolute flipping chumps.
What didn’t work out well was trying to take treats & swag home in a bulging paper Sprouts bag, so I won’t do that again.
As part of the experiment I took a teensy MINIX NEO P1 as my only power adapter. This turned out to be enough to charge everything (laptop, tablet, phone, watch, headphones) without incident so I’ll definitely be doing it again. Five stars! Great work Andy Tanenbaum! That’s a joke.
The only brief disappointment was that I’d assumed I could get some use from the otherwise pointless USB-A port by bringing a USB-A to Lightning cable and plugging the MagSafe Duo charger into it, but that didn’t work because the Duo requires USB PD 3.0, which USB-A ports can’t support. No big deal though: the charger’s two USB-C ports were more than enough because I could power anything else from the laptop’s downstream USB-C ports anyway, so I’ll just fill the USB-A port with gum and pretend it doesn’t exist.
With no queue, Global Entry made passport control pretty much instantaneous, which reminded me to do something about renewing it while it’s still valid.
The renewal process was the same as when I opportunistically enrolled in 2016: I paid £42 for a UK background check, and less than a day later I was emailed a code that let me pay $100 to reapply for Global Entry on what is now the Trusted Traveler Programs (formerly Global Online Enrollment System) website, hosted at the amusingly unmemorable ttp.cbp.dhs.gov.
I navigated this maze during the trip because I naïvely thought there was a chance I’d be able to have my interview at the airport on the way home. That was hopelessly optimistic because the confirmation page explains they’ve instituted a 24-month grace period for renewals “due to a significant increase in application volume”, which does at least mean I get two more years of slightly easier travel regardless of how long it takes to approve me, so the problem is temporarily solved.
But still: will I be able to schedule my eventual interview in the US at a convenient time during future travel? Will they let me do it remotely instead? Do I even need another interview given that nothing’s changed since I first applied? Literally nobody knows.
I have more, but it’s already late and I’m so tired. Let’s resume next week.
RailsConf Portland in two weeks.