United Kingdom 2005
I'm a bit like a mule that smells his alfalfa – when it's time to head for the barn, I'm ready. I let poor Guy sleep to about 8 AM, but I want to get those bikes back and get to the airport. We're on our own today, with no one to rescue us if we take the wrong bus or train. So I want to be sure we have plenty of ‘recover' time if needed. Breakfast downstairs in the pub is good and we make short order of it. It's back to the room to get our riding gear then out to the bikes. We follow the route I figured out last night and arrive just as Mike, the proprietor of AboutTown is opening up.
He inspects the bikes and everything is in order. He processes the $6000 safety deposit refund (I had to cover my bike and Guy's bike because he only had American Express). The main reason he does not take American Express is the high merchant fees that he has to eat on the refund. But Visa or Mastercard works just fine and it's a great place to work with. Anytime you are in London and want to rent a bike, Mike is the man to see. He is a real professional at what he does and is quite a rider himself. We bid Mike a good-bye, and it's a short stroll back down the hill to collect our bags at the pub. Then across the street and we are at the bus stop that will take us to the train station to Heathrow.
The London transportation system is well marked and easy to follow, and we manage to get to Heathrow with only a bobble or two in about an hour. We are able to sail right through customs without a hitch, get our bags checked and arrive at the gate. When the boarding starts, I'm one happy camper. Once it's time to head for the house, I just can't seem to get there fast enough. With 8 hours of flight time, Guy and I talk about our many and varied experiences. We each have different philosophies of riding based on our personal likes and dislikes. He sits amazed as I talk about my little ‘run' up to Alaska. As I tell him, it is not the time frame that I wanted to do it in, but I have to work with what I have and 2 weeks was all I had. I figure you either play the hand that's dealt you or you don't play at all. I doze off to sleep and before I know it, we are landing in Chicago. A quick walk through customs, herded by one of the rudest baggage women I've run into, and we're off to get a snack. When the time comes to head for the gate, I herd Guy in that direction. I sail through the security inspection quickly, but Guy hits a snag. Seems as if he has this dangerous weapon – a set of nail clippers – so he has to pitch them before he can board an airplane. I just laugh as we head for the gate, remembering all the fun he made of me and my inspection before we left Nashville. Once we're on the plane, I'm out for another nap. It just seems my body is trying to catch up from the wear and tear of the past days and I am just willing to let it. The bump of the landing wakes me up and I see the runway lights of Nashville. We see a lady ahead of us that is just struggling in her walker, dragging her bags. Not a soul was offering her any help – I guess they were just too busy or their momma never taught them any manners. Guy and I catch up with her on the exit ramp and grab her bags. Then we give her the grand escort to meet her daughters that are waiting near the baggage claim. They thank us for helping their mom, and for looking after her. Having an elderly mother I understand the situation. I just tell them
"No problem ma'am, I'd want someone to do the same for my mother."
We walk over to the luggage carousel and thankfully our bags are all there. I tell Guy –
“Just guard the bags and I'll go fetch the truck.”
I grab the shuttle bus and retrieval the old brown redneck limousine and pick up Guy. I have made this drive from the Nashville Airport to the Holler so many times I can probably do it in my sleep. As I drive along, I point out to Guy the roads to take to his place to avoid the morning congestion. We pull into the Holler about 10 PM and I am so glad to be there once again. It was a great trip, but just as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz –
‘There's no place like home…There's no place like home'.
|Below is a map of the UK and where most of the fine and caring folks that we met on this trip live. As I always say, Good Folks are Just Good Folks, wherever they live!