Well the adventure is to begin in earnest today - departing to Portland - yes Portland not Seattle. Originally it was Seattle as I was going to visit my doctor in a nearby suburb of Seattle. Back when I was waffling on whether to actually commit to this ride I decided to go ahead and book a flight to get myself off dead center and worry about the doctor arrangements later. Well it turns out the doctor is on vacation this week and the closest airport to the tour start is Portland. I thought I would rent a car in Seattle and drive to Portland after keeping it until Sunday, but it almost doubled the price of the rental vs picking up and dropping off in Portland. I looked at taking the train from Seattle to Portland and it was only $34 which seemed a good option except I would have to wait from 1:00 am until 7:30am for the train.
In a moment of optimistic insanity I thought I would call the airlines and see if I could get my non-refundable flight changed to Portland. Well good old American Airlines - never thought I would say that (well that's not fair as I never really had any trouble with American Airlines) - came through for me with a cost neutral change. After I explained to the agent what I was doing regarding supporting Soldiers Best Friend the agent said they would be happy to get me directly to Portland. Thank you Jennifer Sanchez and American Airlines .
Now this is not to say the trip went without a hitch though - more to come on that.
My fight left at 5:40 pm from Charleston and so the morning was filled with last minute "going away for 2.5 months type things" and frantic accumulation of the pile of stuff I was to take and then "reductionism" phase to get down to the bare essentials.
So here is the pile on the dining room table...
Besides the tent you will see air mattress, aerobars, clothes and of course the all important "business cards".
Here is the tent set up in the side yard. Engineered to weigh approximately 3 lbs. It is called the Double Rainbow from TarpTent
So what do you do with all of this stuff when you have your panniers out in Portland and no intention of carrying luggage back to Charleston on a bike????
Let me introduce you to Bag Man who cut quite a stylin' figure through the Charleston, Dallas, and Portland airports:):).
For some reason Flynn didn't want to walk with me into the departure area... ??? They are heavy duty contractor garbage bags and will serve as light weight rain gear for Sandrine d I as required later.
On the flight to Dallas I met Shawn Nelson of Charleston, a vet of the Iraq conflict decorated with a Purple Heart. Shawn describes this as his "military smile" - he is actually a naturally friendly and gregarious guy.
It was good to speak to Shawn about the importance of the efforts to help vets outside of the VA system even though he didn't speak badly of his treatment in relation to the recent negativity surrounding the VA.
I wasn't the only important person in Dallas Wednesday evening. Check out in the distance the lineup of emergency vehicles in this photo.
I did ask POTUS to carry my bags - to so to speak become Bag-Man-In-Chief but he would have none of it. I thought of it as a get-down-and-get-with-the-people type thing but he didn't see it that way. (Note to NSA - just joshing here). He did very kindly assign a member of the secret service to the detail however.
As a result of the president's visit the airport was shutdown for a period and then the plant had mechanical issues which they worked on for about 1.5 hours and then finally brought up a different plane. The result was an arrival in Portland of 12:45 am vs the expected 11:15 pm which made all the different in the world because the Enterprise Rental car closed at 1:00 am and I was a few minutes late in reaching the counter. Enterprise did give me a free upgrade to a small Hyundai SUV which I needed in order to cart the bikes around while getting settled in Portland
So here is Bag Man on his first airport sleep-over ever using cushy biking shorts (laundered) as pillows.
Well I have so much more to tell you about my PORTLAND. My first most excellent Warm Showers experience, visiting a pannier factory, getting my new bike, fitting and tricking out my new bike etc etc but right now (Sat morning) I have a 100 mile ride in front of me to get to Astoria and dip my wheel in the Pacific.
Sandrine arrives tomorrow too.
Please keep tuned and keep the comments coming.
And finally please remember the cause - soldiersbestfriend.org I will go into this in more detail and perhaps some level of haranguing later on, but for now here is the link .... and an additional link for donation SoldiersBestFriend - Donate Please :):) As you donate please enter my name in the appropriate spot so the folks at SBF can tally the results to encourage me and let me know WE are getting something done TOGETHER. Oh and I would be a lot more comfortable if you use the "honorarium" option vs the "memoriam" option - you'll understand when you click on the link:):). I will be inserting this call to action in all of my blogs so I hope you don't mind.