A few weeks ago I was hanging out in Des Moines "International" airport trying to keep my cool after a third round of "Actual Departure Time Roulette" getting back home to Chicago. Its the Midwest, its winter and it just happens.
I decided to goof around with Google Maps to figure exactly where I've traveled in the past 20-25 years of work. The list was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Each little location pin on the map reminded me of the place. Sharing a room with a quiet, well-behaved family of mice in Butte, MT. Driving through the majestic deserts of Utah for two weeks. Drinking my face off in Heidelberg, Germany for five days.
And I realized just how fortunate I am to have traveled so much; even for work. While working on a short story about zombies in the Great White North, I know firsthand how cold Brainerd can be in February. The next time I write sci-fi (or "speculative fiction" if you prefer) and a ship drifts too close to a star I can remember charbroiling my brain at Lake Havasu, AZ in the middle of July.
And I've got enough stock material from people I've met to create a never ending parade of characters. The overly friendly waitress in Santa Clara. The grizzled grumpy bartender who plays the cello in Missoula. The absolutely insane cab driver from Tuscon who gave me a book on astrophysics he'd just finished. The list goes on and on.
Infinite fictional ammo. Groovy!
To see the map in all its glory, try hitting this link.