Wednesday, January 26, 2011

California - Travel Day

It's been a long day - the clock on the laptop still sits on Eastern time, and it's saying it's past midnight. I went to sleep about 24 hours ago after a long night of packing, waking up just 4 hours later to get to the airport.

The Missus dropped me off at o-dark hundred at the local airport, a nice 20 or so minute drive from home. I dragged my little baggage train into the airport - 48 pounds in one bag (bike kit, street kit, some bike parts), 22 lbs or so in another (bike parts, WaterPik, Sonic Care toothbrush, some bike parts), plus my carry on (about 35 lbs of my long term project, laptops, external drives, and cables/cords), and of course my bike (about 40 lbs). It was a bit awkward but I made it.

Luckily my flight just beat out the apparently big snowfall - the weather thing shows snow falling at home even now.

Unusual for me I had a talkative neighbor (or rather I was talkative and he listened). I'd been editing a friend's report and he couldn't help but notice the cyclists in the included pictures. A cyclist of sorts (aspiring racer), he and I talked bikes for the couple hours I was conscious.

Luckily too my flight (which I recalled as being direct but it was more accurately a "stop but don't have to change planes") stopped over in a well-cleaned off Chicago area airport. Apparently something wasn't good with the plane so we had to deplane.

This made me worry about my bike - last time I was rushed from one plane to another my bike got lost in the mix.

Once on the plane I watched helplessly as we sat on the taxiway as THREE enormous sweeper machines rolled by over and over again. It was a "if I could have anything I wanted at Bethel" kind of shot for sure. I really, really wanted to take a picture but phones had to be off, not just in airplane mode, and I was trying to be good.

I realize now I had an HD camcorder/camera but I just plain forgot at the time. I'll remember in the future though.

I have to admit the machines were awe-inspiring. It was pretty incredible, power broom wheels a good 15 feet wide. Think of how quickly Bethel would get swept!

(The piles of mud on peoples' lawns... that'd be a different problem we'd have to tackle.)

A de-icing spray paused us a bit too. I felt kind of nervous, I have to admit, since I don't remember ever getting a de-icing spray. It's not like I never fly, but to get sprayed down with some alcohol spray or something... Worse, on a different area I saw another plane getting sprayed and they were using a different technique that sprayed the lower parts of the plane. Our plane didn't get that treatment. Would it fly?

Of course everything worked out okay, else I wouldn't be writing this now.

I'd pulled out my friend's race report and started working on it again.

Fell asleep again.

(Mind you it was me that was tired, not the report causing me to fall asleep with boredom.)

This time my neighbor (a different one) asked me if I was an editor.

I wish, right?

Well, although not necessarily a "cyclist" (I use that term in a loose way as she rides but she doesn't have racing aspirations), I got to enjoy another neighbor's company for the slightly longer flight bringing us to good ol' Southern California.

I have to admit that, between my two neighbors, I got very little editing done.

After we arrived at the much, much warmer than home airport (it was 45 degrees warmer than home), I collected my gear. My bike made it through fine - in fact I peeked through those rubber flap things where the bags come out and I saw my bike sitting nicely on the cart.

The black bag at the front of the cart is the bike!

Once I collected everything I got my baggage train going, and struggled a bit to get through a couple elevators, some long stretches of airport floor, and finally onto a curb where I got a Cloud9 shuttle.

It's amazing, the driver's knowledge of the area. I noticed a few developments that seemed new-to-me - he could confirm that, yeah, they started that one almost a year ago. This one was finished up just recently. That building got built half a year ago.

And this is all 40 minutes away from the airport.

If you drove me 40 minutes in some random direction from my house, I wouldn't know what was built in the last 20 years, forget about the last 10 months or so.

I got to the host family's house, got in using the double-top-secret access code and key combination. I'd describe it to you but then I'd have to kill you, but let's just say it involve retinal scans, palm prints, a thumb print, and then a slew of codes and one very special key.

I may have to strike that as it has too much detail.

Um, nope, it's okay.

Anyway... the warm weather, the sun streaming into the garage... let's just say I was tired and very melty-feeling. I felt lethargic and tired and sleepy and didn't feel like assembling my bike.

Eventually I got around to it, finishing just in time for the hosts to return. I'd been worried about the wheels - I flew for the first time with two pairs of wheels, intending for them to act as buttresses to the integrated seat post on the new frame. The wheels really filled the bike bag, giving it shape, but they seemed vulnerable to damage.

No worries. Southwest came through again. The bike rolled fine. A short test ride with part of the host's family (their younger test riders, ages 5 and 8) confirmed the bike worked as expected.

I tweeted and facebooked a lot while all this was going on. What I didn't tweet is that I learned that the kids had been exposed recently to little parasitical creatures that live in hair and rhyme with "mice". They got checked over, we've been throwing everything in the dryer, and I've carefully avoided contact with any fuzzy stuffed animals (now in quarantine), hair (all soaked in oil), etc etc.

So, after quite an eventful trip, I'm at my temporary home for the next couple weeks. I have my bike. My kit. Maybe a few little friends getting fried in the dryer.

And, just a little while ago, I got yet another piece of info in an email.

A FedEx tracking number.

Tomorrow my frame should arrive.


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