From August 5-11, I took a trip to the north-east coast of the US from Denver, Colorado.  My primary reason was to attend the 2010 US National Rubik’s

The venue at MIT

Championship in Boston, MA from the 6-8th of August, but I also planned a few extra days to meet up with a good friend and to tour a bit.  The furthest east I had been prior to this trip was Chicago, IL in summer 2007 for US Nationals then.

I arrived in Boston on Thursday night (August 5), took a bus into town (via the T) and walked to meet up with a bunch of cubers at a restaurant near MIT. On the bus there, I met a guy who is studying his PhD at Cambridge (UK).  Oddly enough, he won the Fullbright (UK scholarship) last year, so he gave me tons of tips, which was very helpful. The food at the restaurant was alright – I met up with a bunch of old friends but also met some new friendly faces. I then walked back to the MIT frat house that I was going to stay at, and played foosball and pool with one of the other guys staying there. I ended up meeting a kid who lives there and goes to MIT who is from southern Colorado (he went to a small school nearby where I went). Anyways, after dominating in some foosball and pool, I ended up BS’ing with this 19 year old physics major about physics until about 4am. I ended up sleeping on a small couch in my friend’s room, which worked out well enough.  The frat had tons of rooms, enough space for roughly 35 people.

A view of Boston while walking across the bridge

I woke up Friday morning around 7:30am, got ready, and walked to the competition with some others. All in all, it was a good day.  I competed in 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, 5×5, 3×3 One-Handed, 3×3 Blindfolded, and Square-1.  I didn’t have too many expectations.  I was hoping to break my PBs in 3×3 and 4×4 (see more on that later). After the competition this day, we went out to dinner at Unos (right next to Fenway Park).  I ordered a steak sandwich which was very good.  There were 10 of us or so, and we sat around and cubed for awhile.  After dinner we ended up going to the Hyatt hotel (where all the other cubers were staying at) and cubed until about 2am, and then we walked back to the MIT frat to sleep (about a 20 minute walk).

The next morning was pretty similar. I woke up around 7:30am, got ready, and then walked to a bagel shop to get some food before walking to the venue at MIT. I met lots more people this day, and just messed around with others. I had some nice results (52.xx 4×4 single, 21 sec Sq-1 single, 58.xx 4×4 avg). After the comp., a group of us joined together to walk to a restaurant. Next thing you know we are in a seafood place looking at a menu where the cheapest thing is $30. So 5 of us (who were at our table) out of the group of 30 end up bailing to a nearby pizza place, where we get way more food, great pizza, and some beer at a great price. After spending much of the night BS’ing there while eating dinner, 3 of us took a taxi to the hotel while the other 2 go back to their hotel (a different one nearby to the pizza place). We ended up cubing at the hotel again until late.  I ended doing some team BLD for most of it.

On Sunday, I woke up at 8:00am and brought all my bags with me to the venue so I didn’t have to go back to the frat to get them after the competition (I planned to stay at the Hyatt this night since my best friend my high school was coming in to meet me from Baltimore – a 7 and a half hour drive away).  This day was the final day of the competition.   Here are my results from the competition:

2×2: 7.52 second average – horrible average, but expected since I don’t practice this puzzle.

3×3: 15.56 second average first round, 16.68 second average second round – quite disappointing; I was hoping to break the 14 second barrier.

4×4: 1:01.78 average first round with a 52.59 second single (personal best), 58.04 second average second round (personal best) – standard averages, and single.  I’m happy to finally get a decent 4×4 average and single in competition.

5×5: 2:07.69 average first round, 2:10.61 average second round – horrible, but expected since I haven’t been practicing this puzzle.

3×3 Blindfolded: DNF’ed all attempts – disappointing, considering that I was off my 2 flipped pieces on 2 out of 3 of the solves.

3×3 One-handed: 29.88 second average first round (personal best), 31.23 second average second round – quite surprising since I haven’t practiced, but happy that I finally broke the 30 second barrier.

Square-1: 35.84 second average with a 21.94 second single (personal best) – bad average; I messed up an algorithm on the solve that killed the average – I am happy about the single though.

I spent most of the day taking videos and chatting with some new friends.  During the 3×3 finals (at the end of the day), my high school friend Richard arrived from Baltimore and we ended up BS’ing there while we watched the finals.  It was the first I had seen him since US Nationals 2009 in San Fransisco, CA (when he was based nearby there). After the competition concluded, we headed to the hotel. My friend Richard and I planned to crash on the floor in a room with 4 others and split the costs.  Our friend Jackson, his parents, and their friends came by the hotel room, and we got some beer and pizza, and end up cubing and chatting the night away. It was great time. It was good to catch up with Richard, and also rock out to some Tom Petty with Jackson and his

Fully functional 11x11x11

family. Next thing you know it is 3:30am and we are all in the lobby messing around with magic tricks and cubing. We get to bed by around 4am. I tell everyone goodbye since we plan to leave early in the morning for NYC.

On Monday morning, Richard and I awake around 7:30am, and then wake another friend Donovan (he lives nearby me in Colorado, and was staying in the east until Wednesday so he decided to go with us). We ended up leaving Boston for NYC by around 9am (me and Rich had tickets for a Yankees game that started at 2pm).  About 2 hours into the 5 hour drive (traffic sucks), Donovan takes over driving since Richard is too tired.  Donovan is an amazing driving in NYC traffic – legend!  Anyways,we get to the stadium around 1:45pm (got caught in bad NYC traffic).  Donovan drops us off and goes to mail some stuff. After the game, Donovan picks us up and we head into the city (into lower Manhattan).  Donovan picked up some Baklava for us which we munched on after – it was delicious. We decide the first thing to check out is Time Square (we really had no plans).  We got lucky and found a parking spot a block from Time Square. So we park there ($15 for 6 hours), and then walk all around Time Square and the surrounding area. We end up cubing in Time Square and get crowds of like 50 people around.  Then out of the blue some girl comes up and wants to race. So we do, and I win the first with a 12 second solve, she wins the second with like a 13 sec solve. I come to find out she competed at Nationals in Boston and has a 9.13 single solve in

At Yankee Stadium for the game

comp (she is the fastest female solver in the world by single solve – a Canadian). Craziness.  After cubing/walking around Time Square, we decide to head to NYC Chinatown for some late food.  So around 11pm, we get on the subway to Chinatown.  We find a place that is about 6 feet wide that sells sushi, so we head in there.  They had 18 pieces of sushi for $9, so all 3 of us order a plate each, along with lots of sake.  With each swig of sake, we cheers to all the great things we experiences in Boston and NYC.  After eating, we take the subway back to Time Square (the subway sucks by the way – it is incredibly hot, takes incredibly long, and the maps/routes are incredibly confusing).  Once in Time Square, we walk around more looking for some water, and then walk back to our car.  We get to bed around 3am, and sleep in our car by Time Square (the 6 hours expired around midnight, but they don’t charge for parking between midnight and 7am).

We wake up at 7am (Tuesday, August 10) and drive to Starbucks to get coffee and breakfast. We stay there for like an hour, and then we come out and find a $65 parking ticket on the car (even though we paid for parking). Apparently the sign said between 7:30am-8:00 no one could park because of street cleaning (which we read before, but mis-read it). We then looking closer and find out the ticket is invalid since they put the wrong state on the ticket. So we leave Starbucks toward lower Manhattan. We are about there when I realize I left my phone charging in the Starbucks. So we drive back to the Starbucks, I grab my phone, and we head to downtown Manhattan. We see the site of the World Trade Centers and try to find parking, but have no luck. So we drive across the Brooklyn Bridge and find a place to park and cube in Brooklyn for awhile (with amazing views of the city). After that, we drive to Manhattan and find a parking garage. After eating lunch, we go to the WTC site, and then walk to the end of Manhattan to try to find a good view of the Statue of Liberty. While there, Donovan finds out that we can take a ferry to it for $12, so we get in line and

Me, Richard, and Donovan in Brooklyn with the city in the background.

do that.  The ferry was awesome.  It dropped us off at Liberty island, and then Ellis island.  We got off at Liberty island to check out the statue, but at Ellis island we didn’t get off since we were running low on time and it didn’t look very interesting anyways.  After the ride there, we hoped into the car, and drove back to Boston (Donovan did the driving once again – he is just too good of a driver).  After getting out of NYC, we make a stop at a service station for some food/drinks. We leave NYC around 6-7pm, and arrive in Boston at 11pm or so. We end up crashing at my friend Nate’s house (I met him in England when I studied at Leeds – he exchanged second semester to Leeds from Northeastern in Boston). Once we bring all our bags in, Nate, Richard, and I play a game of darts, and then Donovan ends up going to sleep along with Nate and his flatmates, while Richard and I walk out around the city and about. We find out Boston is absolutely dead by 1am. We found a pay phone and attempted to call Sophie in Uganda but international phone calls are like $70, so no luck getting through.  Richard and I end up getting back to Nate’s around 2:30am, and sit outside BS’ing until about 3:45am before heading inside to sleep.

The next morning we wake at 7:30am and have to be out by 8am since Nate and his flatmates are leaving to class. So we drive to a Starbucks, and eat breakfast, cube, and get online. We get ready

Me and the Statue of Liberty

to leave around 10-10:30am and we find that the car has a ticket on it. The meter went to 0 min like 2 minutes before hand (Donovan had his phone on a timer, and after the timer went off we went to the toilet, and then left), so we have a $25 ticket now, which is valid. Donovan has to catch a plane at 1pm, so we then take him to the airport. After, Richard and I drive back to MIT, find parking, and walk MIT after eating some lunch (we had some tasty calzones near the MIT campus). We then drive to Harvard, walk all over the area, and then drive to downtown Boston to find a pub. With no luck finding parkingthere, we decide to head toward the airport and find a pub on the way (it is around 6pm at this point – I have to be at the airport around 7pm for my 9pm flight back to Denver). We end up finding a pub called “Kelley’s Pub”, and we go in, have a couple pints of Guinness each, and then take off. The bar tender was a Marine (as is Richard), so we paid $8.45 total (he only charged for my pints), and I just bought it and tipped him $5, so amazingly cheap and tasted good. Richard then drives me to the airport and I head back to Denver (get back to my apartment around 1am – my brother Ron picked me up at the airport around midnight).

Overall, this trip ended up going beyond anything I ever imagined.  Nationals was fun as always, and meeting up with Richard is always a good time.  NYC is way bigger than I thought, and Boston is a beautiful city with some incredible universities so close together (I heard there are nearly 50 universities in Boston alone).  What a great way to wrap up my summer.

Some cool videos of me cubing along the trip:

Speedcubing at Harvard

Cubing in Brooklyn overlooking NYC

Cubing in Time Square, NYC