United Kingdom 2005
We both get up early since it's a 30 minute ride just to get to the airport. My stuff is already packed, sorted and ready to go. It seems like a lot, but I like to be prepared. This trip I'm taking two river bags and a carryon.
I figure the weather will be similar to what we encountered in Canada and New England in 2001, so I've got warm weather stuff and my heated stuff. As I always say - ,
“Better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”
Guy is busy sorting out his gear and I am afraid he may be jettisoning some stuff he will need later on. But this ain't his first rodeo, so I leave it to him. We have differing philosophies of what we carry but that's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream – people are different. The time comes finally, and we load up our gear into my old brown pickup truck. The guys that worked for me at my previous job said it was the only truck around that had its own zip code it was so long.
We make it to the airport with no hitch, find my usual parking place near the high wall (so I can remember where we parked) and catch the shuttle to the airport. When we arrive at the terminal I reach for my wallet.
“Well, if that don't beat all – I must have left my wallet in the truck” I tell Guy.
“I'll just wait here with the stuff til you get back.”
I grab the next shuttle, thinking how dumb is this. But as it turns out, it is a very fortunate thing. When I get to the truck I see something else that I left – my helmet. I imagine finding a helmet in the UK would have been a very expensive and time consuming adventure. And mine had my headset for my MP3 player in it which I would have sorely missed. So I give thanks to the Lord for His deliverance once again. I grab my stuff and catch the next shuttle back to the terminal. When I see Guy, I tell him –
“Well, guess what?”
“I dunno, tell me bro” he says.
“When I got back to the truck, I found my helmet in the back. The Lord sure is definitely looking out for us.”
We head inside and check our bags, wondering what security will be like. Guy's stuff sails right through, but the inspectors focus on my yellow river bag. It's got tools, a mini-air compressor and other stuff in it and I guess it gives them a start. I wander over there to watch the whole thing, and it's kind of comical as the inspector begins pulling stuff out of the bag. Most of it he does not have a clue about, but just scratches his head. He finally figures it's not a bomb apparatus, and stuffs it back in the bag. I want to make sure that it all goes back in and it does. We head for the gate, where Guy makes some last minute phone calls before we board our flight to Chicago.
Being a veteran of many flights and many airports from my previous job, I know the drill to Chicago. My biggest problem with flying is the size of the seats. If I press all the way back in most airline seats, I have about ½ inch clearance between my knee caps and the back of the seat in front of me. So if Mr. Smith in front of me puts his seat back, he gets a nice set of knees in his kidneys cause there's no other place for them to go. If the comfort controls are in the sides of the arms, I'm so wide, I can't use them. I guess I'm just not the average size American that airlines use in designing seats! I look out the window and see our plane sitting at the gate and I already know it's gonna be tight quarters for me.
The flight to Chicago is routine, and I have scheduled it and the London flight so that we have plenty of time to make connections. The last thing I want to do is arrive in London with no luggage because it didn't make the plane. That would mean hanging around an extra day at least for the bags. Just in case, I have packed so that my carryon luggage has all of my riding gear. The worse then would just be finding some street clothes to wear which is a lot easier than finding proper motorcycle gear. Once we land at O'Hare, we hunt up a place to eat. The only thing that looks half interesting is Chili's, so we get a table pretty quick. After we finish up our meal, we head for the gate to take up residence for a while. Guy finds a WIFI connection with his PDA and posts to My-MC.com where we are. Nothing like being with a man that's connected! Finally the boarding call comes and we are herded on the Triple 7 for the 8 hour flight. Having made this run before, the plan is simple. If we can sleep enough on the way over to be able to stay up until bedtime in London, our bio clocks will pretty much be reset. But Guy is restless as a duck in a pen and fiddles with the video screen at his seat. I make myself as comfortable as I can, and settle down for as much sleep as I can get. When daylight comes, we'll be in the United Kingdom. Before long I drift off into a fitful slumber, with Guy still fiddling with the video.