Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: Now an extra challenge on top!

For the love of a sliced shark in formaldehyde ... can you stand another pic of me in front of another Spot Painting and my special Spot hat?
(In case you missed the start of all this, here's Day 1)

I'm doing it. I just decided, 3 days before the opportunity goes "pfffftt."

I'm doing the admittedly carbon-belching, fanciful, "join the dots" Damien Hirst Spot Challenge. This is a round-the-globe whistle-stop junket spotting his 11 gallery shows in 8 cities, and getting a card stamped and apparently, a signed print by him for all your carbon emissions.

Fun mapping tool gcmap.com did this. Why backtrack across the states from LA to London? LA closes first, London in a week, so I wanted to get there faster and save *some* stress. Map saved here.

It's granted me the perfect excuse to visit friends in the UK I haven't seen for 10 years, and, erm, some hostels in Paris, Geneva,  Rome and Athens where I don't have anyone to crash with, and even - when I get to Honkers - the possibility of zipping north to visit cousins in Beijing (where I've shamefully never visited despite being Chinese). Or more importantly, my mother downunder who I have not seen for 3 years ...

At first, you might say there isn't much challenge here at all. Walk into 11 galleries in 8 cities, deal with the occasional oh-you're-a-canvas-kicker withering looks of gallerinas behind the desk, get my card stamped with a big colorful dot, then hi-tail it to the next gallery... a few thousand air miles away.

Well. It's been a big challenge even just organizing flights. Kayak.com and United Mileage Plus both need a new e-muffler after all my surfing and clicking. You see, until now, my traveling life has been extensive but largely unstructured. I started out as a bicycle traveler with a 1-way ticket to Great Britain, riding it end to end at my leisure (people do it in 15 days - I took 3 months) and kept going: Ireland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, then finally the USA, where I spent an adventure-filled decade as the Bike Friday at-large Customer Evangelist.

In that capacity, I'd get an invitation from a customer to visit an area for an event, and off I'd go, bicycle, laptop, compact camera and Ex-Officio quick dry underwear (essential) in hand, to places like ItalyJapanPeru ...  more often than not they'd meet me at the airport, take me to their home, drive me around, take me back. I'd film, blog, write about it all the way.  The rockstar life on a shoestring!

"The Spot Challenge" forces me to accomplish many travel tasks without help, in a short window. I have to consider how to utterly maximize my 100K frequent flyer miles, find the red-eye hops that save a hotel, take trains where it makes sense, and use online resources like Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing - although these require a bit of lead time, unless you think that contacting someone and arriving on their doorstep in 1 hour is hospitable ... on that note, this is one of my best memories of travel hospitality ever.


But wait! There's more! My beau has just issued me a challenge atop the Challenge: do the entire trip with nothing more than my original Traffic Cone Bag as luggage. That's my made-in NYC, reversible cycling bag for minimalist gear freaks.

Think I can pack for a 3 week trip with just this little bag? Santa had no problem this past Christmas! 
"We packed for an entire weekend on Fire Island in our Traffic Cone Bags," says Mark and Gerrit.

War and Peace hides in Kate's Traffic Cone Bag in stealth/nightife mode. No one would ever know she's so literary!

Bicycle authority Preston Tyree uses an earlier version (the new one has a Scotchlite strip) for his iPad and keyboard.

Yes, if I get invited to the Paris Hilton for a slap up meal, I'll have the right bag. Except I won't have room to carry the rest of the threads - or will I? My Wolford black tube dress is but a tube ...

I'll let you know as I pack over the next day if a lone Traffic Cone Bag (and in it's two sizes, since I'm allowed a "personal item" with my carry on, right?) will do the trick. So now, it's a flight Thursday to the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills to get stamped right before that their show closes on Friday then off to London. Local challenge? Deal with the LA mid-afternoon traffic on a Thursday! 

Keep an eye on the ChelseaGallerista blog to check my progress, and you will hopefully see even more frequent updates (depending on wi-fi) on my Chelsea Gallerista Facebook Page

Next stop: Gagosian Gallery Beverley Hills
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