With everything boxed, and a taxi/van reserved at 8:00 am to get me to the airport four hours before my flight, I headed to bed. I slept horribly, waking every hour or so,
Is it time?
finally giving up on sleep and climbing into the shower at 6:15 am. At 7:30 am a taxi/van arrived, looking for someone else. Confusion ensued; the cab company sent a van for someone else at 7:30 and intended a cab for me at 8:00 am. Resolving that to everyone’s satisfaction meant still meant I left for the airport earlier than planned.
The taxi driver dropped me at Terminal 1, because construction blocks access to Terminal 2, providing the opportunity to wander through the airport dragging a large box while finding my way to the other terminal. After that I waited for check-in to open. First in line, my bicycle box passed through with no issues, and they forgot to charge me the bike shipping fee. Only one issue passing through security – the dental rinse. But a quick check to make sure it wouldn’t explode, and I proceeded. Yet more waiting (not unexpected), I boarded. Time to fly home.
Unfortunately the AC on our plane did not actually provide AC. A short delay and the AC was fixed, and then broken again, and then deemed not fixable. At that point the airline decided we would fly a longer northern route (colder), which meant a longer flight, and another delay while we took on more fuel.
In my experience, international flights use large, modern planes. Video on the back of the headrest, audio jacks in the chair. I don’t know if we were on an older plane, or an even more modern plane without those features. Instead, I had the option to use WiFi to view in-flight movies on my mobile device, or rent a tablet ($10) and headphones ($4) for in-flight entertainment. In-flight entertainments included mostly very old TV and movies; the two sitting next to me watched episodes of “The Love Boat”.
I try to schedule layovers for international flights for four hours, to help ensure both I and the bicycle make the transition. In this case I started with six hours. By the time we landed in Toronto, I had four hours left (two used up with the delayed flight). Landing in Toronto, I processed through US Customs. Flagged for an individual check at security, they then pulled me out of line at Customs, flagged my box to come off the plane, and walked me a very long distance away to separate area, leaving me to sit. I pulled out my book.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that I’ve played this game before. Coming back from my first tour, cycling from England to Italy and back, Customs reviewed my passport and asked why I’d been in the Netherlands for only four hours. My quick response of, “Because I cycled across it?”, while true, almost prompted a drug search.
After touring, I always check the “Have you been on a farm?” box. The first time I came back from Ireland, the customs officer asked, “Have you really been on a farm?” and was not amused with my response of, “I’ve been in Ireland, the entire country is a farm”. To his followup question of “But have you actually been on a farm?” I responded , “Does being chased across a field by cows count?”.
I expected the questions to focus on farm life, but the first questions were: “How long did you stay in Istanbul?” “Where did you stay in Istanbul?” “What’s in the box?”. Once the customs agent realized the box contained a bike, and I’d used the bike to move myself across Europe, he relaxed a bit. He told me I’d been flagged because of my time in Istanbul, as a gateway point, and sent me on my way. Now with only two hours to catch my plane, I grabbed a meal.
I boarded the next flight, with a row all to myself. While I could have regretted the layover time, instead it provided a relaxing flight home, surrounded by people freaking out about their flight. I landed in RDU with my box already waiting for me, found Marnie waiting for me, and we headed home to a poodle who wasn’t quite sure who I was for the first few minutes.
And so it ends. The weight of that, and how my life changes after that, still hasn’t sunk in. I still have photos to go through, an analysis of expenses, a few random blogs posts to make (“Top 10 Classic Mistakes”, “Top 10 Tricks”, “Brilliant life insights of some sort”, etc.), and upgrades and fixes to the website I didn’t want to tackle remotely, so I still can savor the experience for just a while longer.
Life feels like it’s suddenly moving very fast.