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Friday, August 11, 2017

Bowen's First Tour: Epilogue - Cycling is the Easy Part

After checking into the hotel, I got out my tools and the hotel staff helped me get out the cardboard box. Packing the bike into the box took about a half hour or so, using up all the duct tape I had brought with me from San Francisco Airport. Then Bowen and I walked back to the civic center just a bit too late to get our last savoury pies from the bakery, but managed a good dinner at the Mr Baker's Fish and Chips place for a surprisingly good price.

On the way back, we stopped by once again at Painswick Park for Bowen to play, and he found a friend there happy to play with him for his last English playground experience. In the evening, I discovered that I'd left the USB charger that Jaine had given me behind in London. This was the last thing that we would leave behind on tour, but it definitely put an exclamation mark on my forgetfulness on this trip, which may or may not be because the additional load of parenting a 5-year old just made me more forgetful than usual.
Booking a mini bus to bring the tandem back to the airport was an ordeal. It was no problem booking the bus, and the hotel helped me specify one big enough to take the tandem. But the driver showed up with a van you couldn't remove the seats from, which made it very painful to load the tandem --- we had to lift it up over the rear seat and leave it cantilevered there, a poor situation. Once at the airport, the driver refused to help me unload the tandem and bring it to the ticket counter, demanding to be paid cash so he could leave to take the next job. I eventually collar'd an airport security guy and he helped me, and gave me a big trolley.

Once in line at the Virgin Airline counter, I experienced the longest checkin time in the world. Then after that, I had to bring the bike and bags to oversized baggage and waited in line once more. We had about 2.5 hours but the entire process burned up an hour and a half. Then we were told to rush through the security line only to arrive at the gate 20 minutes too early to board.

The flight back was easy (thanks to the PS Vita). On the other side, there was a long immigration line and by the time we got through it our luggage was already out, which is the fastest luggage delivery I'd ever seen. Driving the tandem in its box through the customs area was a pain, and there was one fearful point where we had to unload the tandem and bring it through the doors manually and the doors closed behind us cutting us off from the rest of the luggage. But we resolved that and were soon outside in the waiting area.

By the time Xiaoqin arrived with the car, I'd gotten the tandem out of its box, and uncoupled it, so when she arrived with the Honda Fit it was a trivial matter of laying down the plastic bag, dropping a rear seat down, and putting the big bike into the car, installing Bowen's car seat, and putting the rest of the baggage into the aptly named Honda Fit, whose rear hatchback and fold down seats handled everything with grace. Our trip was over.

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