I’m not much of a traveler. I love visiting places, but the process of getting to those places is a real drag. It’s hard to enjoy a city when you’re trying to wake up after a red-eye flight full of extra-grumpy babies, or after stewing on a train that was stuck at a broken signal for over an hour, mere yards from the station. Even when I know it will be great to be in a place and see people and do things on a trip, getting up the motivation to go on the trip can be rough.

But the construction inside my apartment building had been going on for months and was showing no sign of ending. Waking up to buzzsaws and jackhammers every morning provided pretty good motivation to get out of Dodge. And besides, what’s the point of going back to freelancing if I can’t work from random places all over America? So I took a deep breath, packed my bags, and spent half of June on the road, covering a wide swath of the U.S. by train and plane (but no automobile).

Portland: Hung out with family for a couple of days. Went for a drive up the Columbia River Gorge, and even did a little hiking with my mom. I still want to execute my Portland Master Plan one of these days: visit without telling my family, so I can take the time to visit the hipster-cool town that Portland has apparently become in the (very, very long time) since I grew up there.

Seattle: Mostly worked in coffee shops like I would at home, but they were Seattle coffee shops, so that makes it cooler, right? Also caught up with friends and basked in ridiculously nice Seattle June weather. Don’t be fooled by people complaining about the rain all the time! Seattle is super pretty.

For some reason, while I was in Seattle, I ran into multiple reminders of Singles, either because the soundtrack just turned 20 or because the universe likes clich├ęs. A friend even took me past an apartment building in Capitol Hill that served as a set in the movie. I guess it’s time to dig all my early 90s CDs out of storage, rip them, and weep for my lost youth.

Minneapolis: I can still navigate my old haunts by force of habit, but it gets harder to remember that I lived there for over a decade. It seems more like a really nice place where I spent an extended visit. I did get to see a whole bunch of friends, though, and even went for a walk to get ice cream at Crema, which is just about the best way to spend a warm summer evening.

Speaking of old friends: I got a chance to visit the Walker and get reacquainted with some favorite artworks, and was surprised by how much nostalgic happiness I felt at at seeing them. Rauschenberg! Newman! Hey, it’s Beuys’s felt suit! Good ol’ felt suit. We had some good times back in the day, didn’t we?

In sadder news: Uptown seems to have finally completed its long project to transform itself into a terrible playground for suburban fratty types. Grim.

New York: Hard to believe that it took me this long to visit New York, but it did. I managed to spend a couple of days there during a break in the heat wave, so I got to do a lot of walking around and random exploration — the best way to spend time in any city, especially New York. A visit to the MOMA made a great complement to my Walker pilgrimage. I even had some fun times with the NY game design crowd when I volunteered to review final projects for a class at NYU.

Oh, but wow, when it gets hot in NY, it gets gross. By the time I dragged my suitcase and my carcass to JFK, I was literally soaked in sweat. It’s probably for the best: New York really is my kind of place (i.e., a place where I can hate on people who walk too slowly), and I probably wouldn’t have been as happy about going home if the weather hadn’t been kicking my ass. Coming home to a cold foggy night in San Francisco made me fall in love with it all over again. Visiting places (and the people in those places) is great, but being home is even better.