Skepticon 5 DFW Van PoolLast Updated November 2nd, 2012
Big Scary Disclaimer: I do not represent a professional travel service or anything of the sort. I'm just one guy organizing a trip to Skepticon 5. If something goes wrong I will do my best to fix it, but I cannot guarantee that everything will go smoothly. Please keep this in mind if you wish to sign up.
So you want to go to Skepticon 5...
Before you do anything else, register for the convention at http://www.skepticon.org/event-registration/.
To claim a seat in one of the vans, you can either send a Facebook message to Kyle Deep or send an email to email@example.com. Also look at the Facebook event page. If there's room in the vans, I will put you on the list and send you an email with my contact information.
Ermaghad who is driving? Kyle Deep (that's me) will be driving the van, while Frank will be driving his (or my) own personal vehicle.
DFW Pickup Location #1: for UTA, Arlington, Fort Worth and mid-cities people, you can park at the Arlington Park-and-Ride located and I-30 and Lamar Blvd. It's the big parking lot across from Kroger and next to a church. I'll be picking up Arlington people first, so DON'T BE LATE.Map
DFW Pickup Location #2: for Dallas, Collin, and other north-easternly folks, you'll have to park at the DART North Carrollton/Frankford Station. It's paid parking, unfortunately, so I suggest carpooling with other people in the area. Map
Hotel: Everyone will be staying at the Baymont Inn & Suites on South Glenstone. Map
Travel Time: The drive from DFW to Springfield will be approximately 8 hours. I plan to stop for dinner on the first night which should take about an hour. Google Maps tends to over-estimate the travel time. Map
The cost per-person to ride is $125. This includes the non-refundable deposit of $25 and will cover the van rental, fuel for the van and 3 hotel rooms for 3 nights (4 people per room). Remember, the $125 does not include your dinner!
If you do need to cancel your reservation, you may do so without penalty up to two weeks before the trip - otherwise I'm keeping that $25. ಠ_ಠ
If the actual costs fall short of their estimates, I'll ask each person privately if they want their share of the excess money back, or if they want to donate it to the Secular Student Alliance.
If for whatever reason the van trip is cancelled, everyone will recieve of full refund. The non-refundable deposit is only applicable if the van rolls.
Your payment is due before the van leaves on November 8th. I will accept cash or check up until the time the vans are leaving the parking lot.
Wednesday, Nov 7th, 2012
- Drivers must be at the Budget Hurst and Avis rental locations to put their names on the authorized driver form.
Thursday, Nov 8th, 2012
- Noon - 4PM: get to your pickup location in your area of the metroplex.
- 4PM: The van leaves DFW.
- 8-9PM: Stop for dinner.
- 12AM: Check-in at the hotel
Friday, Nov 9th, 2012
- Yay Skepticon!
- Yay dinner!
Saturday, Nov 10th, 2012
- Yay more Skepticon!
- Yay dinner again!
Sunday, Nov 11th, 2012
- Last day of Skepticon!
- I want to leave Springfield at about 4PM to give us enough time to make it back to Dallas and put people to bed.
- 8-9PM: Stop for dinner.
- 12AM: Back home in DFW
- No smoking.
- No alcoholic drinks.
- No illegal drugs or paraphernalia.
- No firearms.
- No weapons of any kind. Except, of course, your razor sharp wit.
- Seatbelts must be worn at all times.
- Pack as light as possible. If you forget something, you can probably just buy it at a gas station.
- Bring some snacks for the long haul between Texas and Missouri.
- Bring a small pillow or blanket, as you might end up sleeping in the van if we are delayed.
- You should leave your laptops at home. The van doesn't have sufficient electric power to charge everyone's computer. I will be bringing a netbook for us to share. If you do bring your laptop, leave it in the bag or use your own battery until we get to the hotel.
- Bringing your tablets, GPS units or chargers is okay, but please understand that you may not always have power available, so keep your phone in airplane mode or turn your device off until you need it.
- Do not wait until the day-of to pack. Get it together the night before.
- If you have a smartphone, install a tracking app. The Apple Store and the Android Market both host dozens of "find my phone" applications. I prefer to use Cerberus for my Android.
- Seatbelts. This rule is absolutely critical. If you've never been in a car crash, I can tell you that it's unpleasant even with the seatbelt on. Your arms and legs are not strong enough to brace against hitting the seat in front of you. Your own body will become a projectile. Anyone can get a ticket for not wearing the belt. It's simple, it's easy, it's only an 8 hour drive. Just wear the belt!
- Insurance coverage. In an at-fault and non-at-fault accident, my personal automobile insurance will cover damage to the van, damage to other vehicles and any kind of personal injury to myself. This does not extend to my passengers. If you have an auto insurance policy, call your agent and see if you're covered as a passenger. I purchased Budget's "Personal Accident and Effects" and "Supplemental Liability" insurance which, as advertised, will cover passengers inside the rental vehicle.
- Power and batteries. I will be bringing a power inverter with a power strip for cell phone chargers. Please do not expect to use your full-size laptops or other big devices in the van. The van's 12V DC power port may be easily overloaded, so I can't promise you'll be able to plug in.
- Packing your cargo. Pack as little as you can stand, and split your items into two bags: one large sturdy bag for your clothes, PJs, stuffed animals, toothpaste and other unmentionables, and one smaller bag for your snacks, books, batteries and water bottles that can be easily accessed while we're on the road. Your large bag may get stuffed under someone else's seat, so don't expect that you'll be able to get to it.
- Identification and security. Make a photocopy or take a picture of your driver's license with your phone. Also put your credit card and bank's phone numbers in your phone so you can call them if something goes wrong.
- I'll have everyone's phone number. Everyone else will have either my number or Frank's number.
- Sign up for Google Latitude. When the time comes, I'll send the email address that I have linked to Google Latitude. (It's not the kyle.r.deep address.) With this you'll be able to track where I am and find me on a map using your phone or computer.
- I expect that everyone will split up at the convention. Of course we'll all need to congregate at the end of the day, so we'll decide on a rallying time and place when we get to the convention center.
General Road Rules
- No speeding. You're going to waste gas, scare your passengers and piss off the police.
- Insurance coverage. Call your insurance company and see if your coverage extends to rental vehicles. I purchased the Loss Damage Waiver, Supplemental Liability and Personal Accident and Effects insurance for the van, however, it won't hurt to be up to date on your own insurance policies.
- Loading and cargo. Our van has a high center of gravity by design, making it prone to rolling in an accident. Also, the chassis length makes it prone to fish-tailing, especially if there's too much weight at the back. Keep heavier passengers and cargo towards the front of the van, forward from the rear wheels. Don't let a wall of crap build up in the cargo area behind the rear-most seat. Figure out which side the gas tank is on and put luggage on the other side.
- Emergency manuevers. A 12 passenger van full of people and cargo requires significantly more stopping distance than a passenger car or light truck. Leave at least 4 car lengths of space between yourself and car ahead. If you find yourself presented with the choice of either hitting something in the road or swerving to miss, hit whatever is in front of you. Swerving will throw the van out of control and could cause a rollover. Your passengers stand a greater chance at surviving as long as all four wheels are on the ground.
- Safety Inspection. At each gas stop, check your tire condition and all fluids under the hood. Check headlights and blinkers.