SAN FRANCISCO--Each summer for the last four years, I've been lucky enough to get to pick a region of the country and spend several weeks driving around, writing stories and taking photos of some of the best geek-oriented destinations I could find.
In 2006, it was the Pacific Northwest. In 2007, the Southwest. In 2008, it was the Southeast. And in 2009, I traveled through almost the entire Rocky Mountain and Continental Divide region. Over the four years, I've covered 18,528 miles and visited dozens of the most interesting research labs, military bases, aviation facilities, NASA centers, technology companies and much, much more.
Along the way, I've also gotten a chance to test out a great deal of the newest tech gear, and see how that gear works when carting it around the country, putting it through its paces, and trying to get the most out of it.
On Road Trip 2009, I drove an Audi Q7 TDI 5,765 miles through Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, crossing the Continental Divide at least 10 times, and stopped in on places like Cheyenne Mountain, the former home of NORAD; the U.S. Air Force Academy; Arches National Park; Robert Smithson's great earthwork, Spiral Jetty; the Air Force's Utah Test & Training Range; the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Lab; the Craters of the Moon; Glacier National Park; a cutting edge wind farm in Wyoming; and more.
And this year, I'm happy to say, is no different. On Thursday, I'll be hitting the East Coast for Road Trip 2010. I'll fly into Washington, D.C., and spend the next few weeks driving a review Porsche Panamera 4S through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. I may even make it across the border into Canada.
I never like to give away the full itinerary, but I will give you a taste of what's in store. Each day, including most weekend days, I'll be stopping in somewhere and producing both a feature story and a photo gallery. When I can, I'll do video as well. Among the stops this year are places as diverse as Northrop Grumman's naval shipyard in Newport News, Va.; PostSecret.com creator Frank Warren's home--including his archive of many hundreds of thousand of secret-laden postcards; induction day at the U.S. Naval Academy; the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing--makers of the country's paper money; the Harley-Davidson factory; Roomba maker iRobot's headquarters; IBM Research Labs; the high-tech New York City kitchen of French Laundry impresario Thomas Keller's Per Se resaurant; behind-the-scenes at Fenway Park; and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater.
And, naturally I've left room on the calendar to add a few destinations suggested by readers, as it wouldn't be that much fun to do this trip if I can't get you involved. Those who are especially helpful will be rewarded with prizes from a fairly sizable goody bag I've got. Stay tuned for details on how to help.
Of course, I'll also be getting you involved with my daily Picture of the Day challenge. Each day, I'll post a photograph and your job will be to identify what it's a picture of and where it was taken. At the end of each day, I'll pick a random person from among those who sent me the right answer, and that person will win a prize.
This year, I've got a bunch of different things to give away, including books, DVD sets from HBO, video games; Porsche memorabilia; and even the chance to play with a state-of-the-art telepresence robot. To help promote Showtime's forthcoming season of "Weeds" and its new show starring Laura Linney, "The Big C," I'll also have a bunch of DVD sets from that network (which is owned by CNET parent CBS).
Although anyone is welcome to participate in the Picture of the Day challenges, no one will be able to win more than twice. However, at the end of the trip, I'll put all the daily winners' names into a hat, as it were, and draw names for some additional prizes, including a couple of Flip video cameras, and some complete series of shows like "Extras" and "Dexter." I'll also be having a separate contest--details of which I'll announce soon--to give away a new Xbox 360 Slim.
High tech gear
As in previous years, a big part of Road Trip 2010 will be my road tests of a number of different kinds of high-tech gear.
Among those products are Apple's latest MacBook Pro, its iPad 3G and, most likely, its iPhone 4; Nikon's 300S digital SLR; Sprint's Overdrive 4G mobile hot spot; a tripod from Joby; a wireless charging system from Powermat; EyeFi's wireless SD card; both the GoPro Hero and Vicon Revue wearable cameras; and Hewlett-Packard's ScanJet Professional 1000 mobile scanner.
I'll be using all of that gear to document this trip in as many ways as I can--given my time constraints, of course. I'll also be trying an experiment once I hit the road to use the iPad for as many tasks as I can. There will, of course, be some things that I'll only be able to do on the MacBook Pro, but most Internet-based tasks will be possible on the iPad, and I intend to write regularly about the experience of trying to use Apple's tablet as much as possible.
And, of course, I'll be posting everything I produce on the trip here, and on my Facebook fan page, as well as on Twitter, at both my @GreeterDan and @RoadTrip accounts. Please be sure to follow those accounts, as there will be some surprises there.
It's always hard to know how these trips are going to go, but I know it will be interesting. I'm going to get to visit a great deal of interesting spots, often from a very behind-the-scenes perspective, and I intend to share as much of those experiences with you as I can. Either way, I do hope that you'll come along for the ride.