My watch died on the first day of the trip, leaving me with one personal time source – the phone.  More importantly, only one alarm. I set the alarm for 5:45 am, but if it failed I’d miss my plane. I therefore slept as I always do before a critical morning event  – poorly. I woke at 5:30 am all on my own.

Scrambling out of the hostel, I ate breakfast and headed for the station by 6:00 am. The trolley … worked. I mean, trekking about with a 6′ long box can be nothing but awkward, but the journey to the train station included only the expected hassles of crossing the street, and the trees on the sidewalk occasionally limiting space to less than that of a bicycle on a trolley.

Arriving at the station, I double-checked the platform for the train to the airport, and waited. And waited. I’d excessively overcompensated for the train’s arrival time compared to the duration of the walk to the station. When the train arrived at 7:00 am (“Mind the gap”), I loaded the box onto the train, and moved over to the opposite door to be out of the way.

Every other stop the platform was on the that side. Where I’d put the box. By the time I realized my error, the train was packed with commuters. Every stop between there and the airport involved hordes of people jammed into the train, exiting and boarding past the box, with me squashed in the middle.

The train terminal wasn’t quite inside the airport, but it was close. I could see where the problem would have been had I taken the Metro, as that stop was almost a kilometer from the entrance to the station. Some wandering about, and I located the check-in for Turkish Air, arriving only moments after they opened at 8:00 am. While we weighed the box, it fell well within the weight limit of 30 kilos. My bicycle weighs 12 kilos, my gear weighs 10 kilos (some of which I was carrying), and the odds of the box weighing 8 kilos were low. Except for tape. I’ll admit I’d used a lot of tape. Nonetheless fine. I just needed to go across the weigh to pay for the bicycle. During that 30-foot crossing, a wheel on the trolley disintegrated.

However, only 20 feet to the counter and another 100 feet or so to the Oversized Luggage check-in remained. My design spec for that trolley only required it to survive my walk to the train station. Admittedly I’d had farther to go after that than I’d expected, and I’m glad I had it up to the counter, but well within expectations. I’m calling that a win.

The first leg of my flight to Istanbul was on a plane far larger than required for such a short flight. Istanbul recently completed a new airport on the other side of the city, the airport under construction when last I cycled in Turkey. The new airport is … big. To get from the gate where we landed involved walking the length of the airport, dropping a floor, and walking back that length to get to my next gate. Which included walking back through Security.

For the flight from Istanbul to Toronto, while I was in the middle row of seats, I had no one in the seat next to me (middle). I talked with my companion on the other side for a while before we both settled into the flight (also known as the world’s most expensive movie theater). I watched five movies during the flight, including Captain Marvel which I’d kept not getting around to watching. Two dog movies too. Either I forgot to call the airline, or they lost my request, but I had no special meal listed under my name. Food on the flight consisted of granola bars and Oreos.

Arriving in Toronto I realized I would pass through US Customs there, and wiped my phone. US Customs is not allowed to ask for the passwords to your email or social media, but they are allowed to ask for the password for your phone (which gives them access to whatever they want). Do I have anything to hide? No. But it’s a lot easier to just wipe the phone then have them ask for my password and have me refuse. That wouldn’t end well; wiping the phone makes that more likely I’ll get home.

By that point I was starving, but there’s not a lot of food available for the part of the airport in Toronto – the best I found was a pre-made sandwich.

I’d worked hard at staying awake, which I’ve found the best way to reset my clock, but by the time the flight from Toronto to RDU took off I was exhausted. I tried to read but failed, and dozed until we landed. Marnie had arrived just before I did, and the bicycle arrived shortly thereafter. We packed everything up and headed home. Two poodles were ecstatic to see me; I almost fell asleep on the floor while wrestling with them.

Time to resume, well, everything else. I’ll put together my usual trip summary, maps, and organized photos, thought it might take a few days.

Total trip distance? 1,874 km. Which at this point counts as “short.”