Me And Some Big Boxes Take A Trip

I woke up in my van, stowed my bedsheets, and re-packed my toiletries bag. It was time to set in motion that long, weird collection of gears that would move me and three big chunks of luggage nearly four thousand miles across land and ocean in less than a day.

My friend Zog had plans to drive my van while I was gone, so I gave him a brief tour and promised to write him a more thorough document later. While he helped me lug the suitcases and box with the bicycle into the van, I chatted with his relatives, and they gave me some messages to send along to the Icelandic people, as follows:

Dear Iceland,

Lawrence A. Bell says he’s sorry about Mr Trump, but he takes responsibility.  Jeremy is sorry too, but does not take responsibility.

And then we were on our way to the Portland airport! Zog had to come along so he could drive the van back to his place.

Zog is my co-pilot.

We chatted about work and groovy electronics projects, and listened to some throwback 90’s-era goth electronica by Gods Of Luxury. (Sooo deliciously pretentious and cheezy and well produced!) In short order I was hugging Zog at the terminal curb, and then I was alone with my giant pile of stuff and a couple of hours to get on a plane.

Two disposable suitcases, each right up at the 50 pound limit, and one oversize bike box, right up at the 70 pound limit.

A handcart was only a few feet away, so I bundled everything onto that. The little wheels that I’d roped onto the bottom of the bike box turned out to be redundant, which was great news.

This time I didn’t encounter any sarcastic resistance from airline agents who didn’t know their own luggage rules. They knew the box was legal, and they knew it could go up to 70 pounds as long as I paid the oversize fee. I was asked to haul it to a special roped area, and allowed to watch as they unbuckled the straps and poked through the equipment inside.

Inspecting the box in the open, where I could see. I like that.

I appreciated that a lot because it meant I could watch them reassemble the box as well, and make sure they got everything back inside and properly tightened the straps.

With that done, all I had to do was get a few labels attached, then check my other suitcases along with the giant box and wave goodbye to the whole set.

It was exactly 70 pounds, but the clerk approved it anyway.

In the trip through security, my hands tested positive for some chemical contaminant so they padded me down and then searched my backpack. No big deal; I’ve got lots of time.

They also said my second camera lens – the 50mm f1.2 – was a strange object and they asked me to take it out of the bag and show them. The woman looking it over said, “holy mackerel, that’s a serious lens!”

“Yeah it’s nice, but my arm just about falls off after using it for a while,” I joked.

Bumped my head on the overhead bins.

I swear I should just wear my bike helmet all the time.  Even if it does make me look like a dangerous lunatic.  Actually perhaps that’s an advantage.

Skirting Mt. Hood as we take off.

Cool clouds on the plane.  Learned about clouds on my materials audiobook.

Long descent into clouds.

Woman ahead of me talked about how she’d been in Portland for six months teaching a woman Icelandic “she wanted to find an Icelandic husband” she said, with just a hint of exasperation in her voice, as though she thought the woman was silly, or perhaps Icelandic men were silly, or both.

Ride from a taxi driver.  Didn’t want to wait.  Cost about 40 dollars.

Delighted to see that I remembered the landmarks and the route.  There’s the jet on a stick, there’s the guy playing guitar.

Somehow id expected the place to feel as foreign this time as it did the first time.

Prince pollo bars in the lobby.  Where do I get money?  Where did I get it last time?

Long time before check in.  Desk clerk let me store my luggage, then gave me a breakfast ticket for the upstairs buffet with a wink.

This time I was ready for the milk carton that actually contained yogurt.  I poured soy milk on top to loosen it up.

Dude in fatigues in the lobby of the hotel.  I keep forgetting this is near a base.

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