Is it time yet? 

Fearful of missing my alarm for the taxi, I didn’t wear earplugs last night. So I didn’t sleep much either. Big surprise.

By 7 am I waited, fully packed, at the hostel door for the 7:30 am taxi. At 7:35 am the taxi company called to say they would arrive 10 minutes; they were having problems locating a taxi that could carry the bicycle. At repeating intervals they called to say they were on their way, with the hostel staff harassing them. I’d given myself an extra half-hour in trip math to deal with any issues, and used up 45 minutes before the taxi arrived.

I checked in with Aer Lingus, who sent me across the terminal to Oversize Luggage. I found … the wrong one. After charging me $75 for the bicycle, they realized the earlier desk had checked the bicycle in already, for free. I was instructed to go to Customer Service for a refund; I decided I’d deal with that after I got home, time slowly slipping away.

In Ireland the US now pre-clears people for customs.  All advertised as “the ultimate time-saving service … So not a second of your trip is wasted.” After I worked my way through the usual airport security, curious about the bicycle lock in my panniers, I worked my way through … another security checkpoint, manned by US personnel, curious about the bicycle lock in my panniers. I next went through pre-clearance Customs, where a machine scanned my passport, took my photograph, and gave me a piece of paper with my picture on it to carry around. From there through an actual Customs officer before finally being free to head for my gate. Between every single stage someone checked my boarding pass, my passport, and, once I had it, the pre-clearance photograph (because, you know, they needed a photograph of me to compare to the passport because I wasn’t standing right there. Oh wait, I was). Each step was also another long, wandering process through Dublin airport before arriving at the next one.

For the flight from Dublin to the US I had an aisle seat, with no one in the two seats adjacent to me. Score! The meal (and snack) Aer Lingus served could beat most restaurant food. Determined to stay up to help reset my clock, I watched movies on the flight over (The Wolverine, Table 19, and Jupiter Ascending), as well as enough of Life to decide not to.

The intentionally-planned 3.5 hour layover to deal with Customs no longer necessary, I read. As another sign that my metabolism never truly kicked in, I mostly didn’t eat while I waited. The unintentionally-planned additional two-hour delay due to weather, I still read.

As a security precaution, I had wiped my phone, a foible from my security background. Recent court ruling have determined that Homeland Security can ask you for your phone password (which in turn gives them access to everything else on your phone), and I didn’t feel like dealing with that more than I didn’t feel like dealing with setting my phone back up. The bicycle tends to attract attention, but with it checked, no one ever bothered me (except by being irritated I hadn’t pre-declared my sealed bag of cookies). I had hoped to be able to use the phone once through Customs, but Google security wouldn’t even let me log into my email without sending me a text message that I couldn’t receive. If nothing else a good opportunity to clean up the phone.

I found Marnie right where she said she’d be, and my bicycle arrived for once as everyone else’s luggage arrived. I had a few strange moments of “Auggh! Why are the cars on the wrong side of the road!” when driving home to meet my exuberant poodles.

Glad to be home.


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