Traveling 2016

I flew about 75,000 miles this year. That’s a lot. For comparison, that’s about 1/3 of the way to the moon (238,855 miles on average). I went to:

  • LA (6 times – once for work, the rest for family stuff)
  • DC (3 times for work, including a memorable Snowpocalypse adventure)
  • New York, NY (for work, but managed to see Hamilton!)
  • Baltimore, MD (work conference)
  • Bloomington, Indiana (workshop)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (workshop)
  • Wichita, KS (work stuff)
  • Madison, WI (for a friend’s wedding!)
  • Arecibo, Puerto Rico (radio telescope!)
  • Carpinteria, CA (annual family Labor Day fun time)
  • Paris and Lyon, France (work conference)
  • Edinburgh, Scotland (work conference)
  • Singapore (work conference)
  • Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (vacation!)

So yeah, I’m a bit tired. That was probably too much. I’m going to try really hard not to repeat that in 2017, but who knows what will happen. I love traveling, but it is exhausting.

Here are some photo highlights from my year of travel.

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Driving to LA

I grew up in LA. My family still lives there, with my immediate family in the San Fernando Valley and the extended part of my mom’s side of the family mostly lives nearby-ish. So, I drive to LA (and back) a few times a year to see them. I’ve gotten really good at the drive and have seemingly mastered the 5-6 hour snooze fest that is typical of driving through California’s central valley (and before that, the big desert between Arizona and California).

Driving on the 5 is pretty easy. It’s pretty straight, simple two lanes each direction, with occasional rest stops, gas stations, and even an In-n-Out halfway between LA and the Bay Area. It’s boring. There’s not a lot to see except for agriculture and cows1. So, doing the drive for 5-6 hours, especially by yourself like I normally do, requires a certain amount of preparation, Zen-like patience (for when there is traffic), and an ability to amuse yourself when needed.
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Red Rocks

Last summer, when I was in Boulder for the ICLS conference, I stayed a couple extra days to hang out with some friends. On a seriously perfect and beautiful day, Carrie, her dog Scout, and I went hiking in Red Rocks. Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheater and recreation area near Denver with lots of hiking and cool things to do (in addition to listening to awesome music).
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Yesterday I spent all day at Disneyland (and California Adventure) with my brother and my two oldest cousins (on my mom’s side of the family). We had SO MUCH FUN. I am so completely exhausted today and my entire body hurts but it was totally worth it. (I also broke my one-day FitBit record yesterday and got 30,000 steps – about 13 miles.) Somehow, with a little bit of planning and a lot of luck and endurance, we were able to execute a nearly perfect Disneyland day. And this is saying something, especially since we went on a Saturday which was also the same day as a 5k/half-marathon at the park and the first weekend of the winter/holiday decorations (and also we got a slow start to the day). We went on 23 rides. That is a lot. We gamed the system a bit, took full advantage of the FastPasses, and were quick and nimble with our decision making.

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Chile: Part 3

If you somehow missed parts 1 and 2, I would highly suggest reading those first: Part 1 and Part 2.


After our adventures in Patagonia, we flew back to Santiago and found our apartment/hotel in the Providencia area of the city. It was pretty nice. We got ready to go out for dinner that night and had a bit of a tough time because it was election day in Chile and many of the restaurants were closed (something about not being able to serve alcohol on election day – thank goodness we don’t have that here!). But we managed to find a place that was open and met some of Katie’s friends there. We took the metro to Tiramisu, a very popular local restaurant that had delicious pizza and lots of wine and gelato (yes, I know I was in Chile and not Italy – we didn’t have a lot of options). It was an enjoyable and relaxing, and a good break from the last few days of crazy adventures.
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Chile: Part 2

If you skipped part one, you really shouldn’t have. Catch up here: Part 1.

After our two nights in the Elqui Valley, we headed back to La Serena and flew down to Punta Arenas to begin the next phase of our adventure.

Punta Arenas

We got in fairly late that day and got to our hostel (Hostal Fitz Roy) in Punta Arenas. The hostel was alright; we had our own little 5-person cabin at the back of the property. It was cozy but it took us a while to figure out how the heat worked. And, oh yeah, since we were in Punta Arenas now and basically as close to Antarctica as you can get without actually being in Antarctica, it was very cold even though it was spring (November). Breakfast at the hostel was typical chile: toast with jam, meat & cheese, tea or Nescafe “coffee”1, and some weird almost-orange juice.
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Chile: Part 1

Last November I took a two-week vacation to Chile to visit my good friend Katie and explore a new place. I had never been to South America (or even the Southern Hemisphere) before, so it was a totally new experience and I got to see another part of the world. It was quite an adventure and we packed a lot of different sights and experiences into the two weeks.

La Serena

Chile is a big place, and I saw lots of it. I flew into Santiago from Atlanta (an 11 hour flight) and then flew to La Serena, a small beach town about an hour’s flight north of Santiago, where Katie lives. Katie picked me up at the airport. The airport in La Serena reminded me of an old movie because there was no gate, the plane just arrived and everyone walked over to the building. A lot of the passengers were taking pictures in front of the plane after they got off.
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Road Trip!

In 2012 I moved from Wisconsin to California for my new job. I decided it would be fun to do another road trip and see some more of this wonderful country. My dad and my trusty dog Laika accompanied me on the journey, just like the last long road trip when I moved from Arizona to Wisconsin. This time, we decided to take a more northernly route on our way west and headed through Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and then finally California.

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[We missed the Utah sign.]
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In August 2004 I went to Rotterdam, the Netherlands for a conference. I was presenting my work on a recent meta-analysis of STEM simulations for learning. (You can read more about it here and can download the report here.) The conference was a meeting for two special interest groups of EARLI (the European version of AERA) – Instructional Design and Learning & Instruction with Computers. It was a small conference with no concurrent sessions (i.e., we were all in the same room for the entire conference) which was really nice because a) I didn’t have to make any decisions and wonder if I chose the wrong concurrent session and b) I was exposed to a bunch of interesting research that was a bit outside my normal area.

some cool architecture in Rotterdam
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My Year in Review: 2013

This post is meant to serve as my non-existent holiday card for interested friends and relatives, as well as a completely biased recounting of my year.


Airplane sunset
Well, I traveled a lot this year. More than usual. I flew 46,601 miles, going to about 22 different cities. I went to North Carolina twice, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Madison, Chicago, Chile, and a bunch of places in Southern California. Most of those trips were either work-related or family-related (my brother got married this summer!). But I did finally take an actual vacation – two weeks in Chile (I promise a post about this is going to happen).
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