After 5 years of on and off journeys to a thousand concentration camps, the cleanup started in the boot of my car. Everything that had been in there for such a long time could now return either to my studio, my storage or simply back home (hello coffee maker).
I actually started off my Blue Skies journeys not by car, but by renting a camper van from dear friends. It allowed me to be quite flexible – or so I thought – in looking for places to sleep. I wouldn't need to plan ahead where I would end up every night, which was a logistical challenge given the fact that I had no idea how fast or slow any given travel day would be. Travel was very complicated and had to be very fast and flexible, because I had to literally drive behind the good weather and breaking cloud cover.
But slowly, changes on different fronts were happening, making my life easier. Google's My Maps became vastly more powerful and allowed custom maps to appear in its iOS app, effectively connecting my location research to my GPS navigation. I didn't have to manually bridge between the two anymore, constantly manually entering GPS coordinates dozens of times a day.
Weather apps were also improving rapidly, I now had access to weather apps that used the European satellites and allowed me to see live infrared cloud patterns over the continent. This proved to be a crucial layer of information for me. Now if only that could have been overlaid over the Google Maps app.
And then – finally – the data roaming in the EU became standardised (gone with the preposterous roaming charges, the mobile networks desperately trying to squeeze out the last little bit of profit before conceding), so I could finally get rid of the bunch of different SIM cards I was forced to use in a mobile hotspot.
The final thing that made my life easier was the possibility to book rooms online on the same day, have all my reservations at my fingertips and easily change if circumstances would arise. I had started out with AirBnB, but that became quite cumbersome and it still was very hard to find same day reservations. In contrast, using booking.com streamlined everything in a wonderful way and openend up rooms for same day reservation even in the most remote parts of Europe. I still am super annoyed though how they constantly push you during every single reservation no matter where you are ("last room available!", "booked 23 times in the last hour!", "hurry" etc etc).
All these unconnected advancements made it much cheaper and more efficient for me to travel by car. Using only 1/3rd of the fuel of a camper van and literally allowing met to work out of my boot, I had finally found the most affordable and efficient way to deal with traveling for this immense project.
Now 5 years later, cleaning out the trunk, I noticed my foldable camping chair that I had always taken along with me. As you can imagine, traveling to more than a thousand WW2 concentration camps wasn't a particularly "light" thing to do, and I ended up looking for every possible way to rest my weary mind. I found that stopping randomly at large fields or meadows at the side of a road and just sitting there for a while staring in the distance, helped a lot to keep things in perspective. My little camping chair became crucial to me, my sanity-keeper.
To this day I keep it in my car, and it reminds me to once in a while just stop and let go.