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Corporate Runaways

Overland travelers and certified geeks, based in Vermont.


30-Minute Read

Saturday dawned bright and early as we got up, showered and put the finishing touches on our packing at around 7AM, all the time trying not to wake Gus the Canadian. Javier from Dakar Motos said he’d try to make it to the shop in the morning to see us off and lock up after we left, but since Gus was scheduled to arrive, that took the pressure off and Javier didn’t make it. The taxi was scheduled to show up at 8:30AM… at 8:20 I went out to take our trash out to the bin and the taxi was there.

So Kay scrambled to get his stuff wrapped up, and we didn’t end up signing the guest book at Dakar Motos - we saved that until the last minute and then had to run. I feel bad about that. The guest book is this awesome log of who’s been there and their thoughts and a little snippet of their personalities, and I wanted us to be in there too with all the other riders that have passed through, so I’m a little unhappy about that.

Kay’s note: In total agreement. Really wanted to sign it, but I remind myself that we’ll be back and have another chance when we go to pick up the bikes.

Taxi ride to the airport took about 40 minutes, and while we had mixed feelings (mostly weird) about being passengers instead of riding, it was definitely nice to let someone else do the navigating. We arrived shortly after 9AM, which gave us about three hours before our flight, and I was happy. I always feel time crunched when I get to an airport, but we had plenty of time and that relieved a lot of the stress. Especially as this was a long series of flights.

Whilst standing in line to check in, we notice that some people have gotten their luggage shrink-wrapped. I assume it’s to prevent security people from snagging your stuff, which we weren’t too worried about, but we did think it might be useful to have Kay’s panniers shrink-wrapped because we thought we might have trouble with checking them. They have lots of fiddly, pokey metal bits on them (see yesterday’s post) that we thought might give the baggage handlers an excuse to turn them away, so shrink-wrapping seemed like a way to make them appear slightly less odd. We debate it and then he takes them out to get them wrapped up, and they are much less conspicuous when shrink-wrapped (although now they won’t stand up at all).

Check in with zero trouble, and Copa prints all three of our boarding passes for us - the two for the Copa flights and the one for the United flight. The itinerary is Buenos Aires to Panama City, Panama City to Washington, D.C. (Dulles), and Washington to Boston. Not optimal in terms of number of connections, but it was the cheapest flight we could find at around $1,300 each. When we check the luggage, the woman at the Copa desk asks “What have you got there?” and Kay explains that his metal panniers are motorcycle luggage, and she seems fine with it. Two big duffle bags and two motorcycle panniers, and everything is within the size limits (we’d checked before hand) and we have no excess baggage fees through Copa. Yay!

Baggage safely checked and boarding passes in hand, we get through security with zero hassle. When we crossed the Darien Gap from Central America to South America, flying from Panama City to Bogota, we were still wearing our full motorcycle gear, and that gave the security people some issues. They were suspicious of our big boots and the motorcycle armor in our pants, which we can’t take off to send through the x-ray machine because they’re not overpants - they’re just our pants (they had to take us off to the side and “inspect” the pants, which for me was behind a screen, but for Kay was out in the open).

So this time we fly with our motorcycle gear safely packed away, except for our jackets, which we can send through the x-ray machines with our baggage. Just to be safe, I take all of the armor out of my jacket (it’s in one of the duffle bags) and Kay takes his elbow armor out, but leaves his shoulder and back armor in. Security doesn’t give us crap about anything and we make it into the terminal with no problems at all - much smoother than the Panama to Bogota flight from CA to SA months ago.

Safely past security by 10:30AM and we find a cafe for breakfast. We order lomito sandwiches, because the lomito completo was one of the best sandwiches we had in Argentina (I kept ordering it because I liked it so much) except it wasn’t the lomito sandwich we’ve been getting - it was basically really thick ham and cheese on a baguette. We were disappointed because we were looking forward to one more of those sandwiches before we leave, but it was amusing and perhaps somewhat fitting since we ended up eating so many ham and cheese sandwiches in Argentina.

Nervously ready to board

Flight from BA to Panama was from shortly after noon Buenos Aires time to shortly after 5PM in Panama… but we forgot about the time zone differences. So what we thought was a five-hour flight was actually seven hours. We’d both bought a bottled water before we got on the plane, and ended up drinking them both and still being really thirsty.

Meal service on the plane consisted of some very sad airline food (beef in a wine sauce, except somehow my meal was missing the sauce and the bread, so Kay gave me his and we ended up splitting the meat so we each got some with sauce and some without). I commented that it was like eating dog food, but we ate it anyway - long flight and no choice. It took an entire movie (which we actually watched - I don’t know the name of it but it had Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson and Owen Wilson and was kinda cute - Kay just looked it up and it was called “How Do You Know”) for dinner service to make it to our seats. And we only got a teeny half cup of drink - probably four ounces. Flying dehydrates you anyway, and we wished we’d gotten more water at the airport.

With around three hours left in the flight, I noticed the flight attendants putting some sandwich-looking things in the ovens to warm up. I didn’t know if they were for first class or what the deal was, so I pretty much forgot about them. But then, about 20 minutes before landing (and while the captain was making the landing announcements) they started handing out these little ham and cheese sandwiches. They’d been sitting in the warmer things for 2.5 hours - I think they forgot about them. People were literally unwrapping them as we were taxi-ing down the runway from landing - it was a very last minute thing. But we ate those, too, because we were still hungry from the teeny, bad-dog-food meal.

In Panama, we remembered (luckily) that the currency is US dollars. We had some of those! So we bought some hot dogs, water and Gatorade at one of the food stands. We wandered the terminal looking for a money changer, hoping to get rid of our Nicaraguan and Honduran currency, but no luck. The layover wasn’t too long - just a little over an hour before boarding for our flight from Panama to Washington, D.C.

Sunset at Tocumen in Panama City

Sitting in the waiting area at our gate was a bit of culture shock for us. It was a flight to the US, and *everyone* around us was speaking English. It was so weird to overhear English casually spoken by the people around us after so long in Latin America. Sure, we’re happy to speak English when we meet other travelers who speak it, and we speak it between the two of us, but we’ve just gotten so used to hearing Spanish that it seemed weird and kinda wrong that all of these people were speaking English.

Kay’s note: throughout the plane stuff we kept ordering things and responding to people in Spanish even though they were speaking English.

At the last minute, we were still thirsty and dehydrated from the long BA to Panama flight, so Kay grabbed us each another water to take on the plane with us…

… and it turned out that they were inspecting our carry ons before boarding our flight, for some reason, even though we’d already been through security to get to that point and had only been inside the terminal since then, and they confiscated our water. Took it away! We weren’t able to carry any drinks on the flight, and we were already thirsty and dehydrated, so this did not bode well. Plus it was a waste of $5 since they basically trashed our drinks. Kay chugged his whole bottle before they grabbed it but I was too annoyed and missed my chance.

On the flight from Panama to Washington D.C., we ended up sitting at the very front of economy class. This is a double-edged sword. It’s great because you get a little extra leg room up there, but the tables are a bit awkward and you don’t have a seat in front of you to put your stuff under. It’s also far from the bathrooms. We thought this was a five-hour flight, but due to time zone changes again, it was only a little over four hours. Yay! We left Panama at shortly after 7PM local time, and arrived in Washington, D.C. at around 12:30AM Washington time.

Again, on this flight we didn’t get enough to drink. There was meal service, and this time we got chicken instead of beef, but the meals were even smaller if possible. Kay was smart and asked for two drinks when the flight attendant was passing them out, but I didn’t and regretted it. So we were both still dehydrated upon arriving at Washington, and also extremely tired at this point, as it was 2AM Argentina time and very late for us.

Got off the plane and had to go through immigration and customs checkpoints. It was very quick and no-hassle, and although we were tired and grumpy, we tried to be polite (as always) to the immigration guy. He had just come on shift and was fresh and friendly to us. He greeted us with a “good morning”, which made me think about the time and do the math and realize it really was morning - he seemed amused by that. And when he was stamping our passports and we were heading out, he said “Welcome back, folks.” Kay and I agreed as we were walking away that it was surprisingly nice to hear that from an English speaker in our home country. We were back.

It was shortly after 1AM by the time we clear the immigration checkpoint, and we have to retrieve our luggage, take it through the customs checkpoint and then “re-check” it. We were NOT looking forward to this part because we’d be checking it with United, who has a stupid checked bag policy. They charge $25 just for you to check one bag, and $35 to check a second bag. So we were going to have to pay $60 in baggage fees, per person, just to check our luggage. And that was assuming it wasn’t over their size or weight limits - if it was over, we’d pay an additional $100 for every piece that was oversized. Ahh, the US and their BS baggage policies… or maybe it’s just United.

Waiting for our baggage we were tired and a bit silly. I was all happy every time I saw a piece of our luggage coming. “Look, it’s our yellow bag!” “Look, it’s a pannier!” “Ooo, it’s our black duffle.” There was a couple next to us, and the girl was sort of smiling to herself when I was commenting on our luggage… I don’t know if she thought it was my first time flying and I was all amazed by the baggage system or if she just realized how tired and silly we were at that point. We collected our pile, and then Kay saw a loose baggage cart thing and snagged it and piled our stuff on. Yay! Only one piece of our luggage had wheels, and the panniers were surprisingly heavy - wouldn’t have been fun to haul them around Dulles.

As we’re leaving the customs checkpoint with our baggage, we see a “re-check your luggage” sign and think “Oh! That’s what we want to do! We need to re-check our luggage!” and start to go that way. It doesn’t look particularly open, though, and when a cleaning guy sees us heading that way, he shakes his head and waves us off, pointing upstairs. Apparently the re-check isn’t open at 1AM. So we get our cart and head out.

A few minutes later, we pass a Starbucks. And it’s open. Thank the GODS! I’m still really thirsty, and the idea of sitting down for a few minutes with a warm drink before we have to deal with our luggage and our crazy long layover (did I mention that we got into Dulles at 1AM and our flight to Boston wasn’t until 9AM? Yeah. Never be in a hurry when you’re buying plane tickets, kiddies. Examine the itinerary carefully when you book a series of flights this long.) So we get some Starbucks and then sit on some chairs nearby to enjoy our drinks.

With no real rush, we dawdle over our drinks and then try to find a working elevator to get us and our baggage upstairs. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, as you think about it) nothing seems to be open at 1:30AM, and it takes a bit of wondering. But eventually I spot some people with baggage carts getting onto elevators, and we follow them. When we get upstairs, we find the United ticket counters where we need to re-check our baggage… but they’re all closed. Boo. It’s close to 2AM, so we find some chairs and camp out. We pile our baggage at the end of the chairs, and I see some power outlets nearby so we plug in our cell phones to charge. Then we settle in to watch an episode of Top Gear whilst waiting for our phones to charge.

At this point, we could try to sleep, except the chairs are a bank of like five one-person seats with arms between them. So we can’t lay down. I could still sleep sitting up, I think, except the power outlets with the cell phones charging are like 10-15 feet from our spot. I don’t want to leave them there while we’re sleeping, and they need to charge, so we figure an episode of Top Gear will give them enough charge and then we can maybe grab the phones and sleep.

When Top Gear ends, it’s around 3:30AM and there’s a woman in front of the United ticket booths moving the corral divider rope things around. I go to the bathroom and Kay asks the woman when the ticketing/check-in opens. She tells him they open at 4:20AM. He explains that we have a 9AM flight and ask if we can check our luggage then (as I think it’ll be too early - the United baggage policy states that you can only check luggage up to four hours before your flight for domestic flights) but she says we can, so we think we’re good. The cell phones could use more charging, so we decide to wait it out until United opens, collect our phones, check our baggage and try to get through security to find a place to nap.

So we wait. And wait some more. Eventually 4:20 rolls around and people start getting in line. There are only a handful of people waiting around, but they all rush to get in line as though it’s somehow going to take forever if they don’t. Silly competitive people. We’ve gotten accustomed to a slower Latin American pace, where stuff will get done when it gets done and not sooner - so we let them go ahead and then go with our stuff.

When we get up to the ticket/check-in, the guy at the counter points to a computer in front of the counter. Apparently they have some sort of automated check-in system. We stare at it dumbly for a minute, and then try scanning things to pull up our reservation. Kay tries the credit card first, which doesn’t do it, and then we try to scan our boarding passes with no results. Eventually Kay tries to scan his passport, is successful and the computer brings up his reservation. He goes through the screens, selects his 9AM flight and tries to check his luggage.

No! The computer won’t let him - it says he can’t check it more than four hours before his flight. We ask a woman standing nearby (a different one than we’d asked earlier, as she’s down at the “executive class” check-in) and she confirms we have to wait until four hours before the flight to check in. ARGH! If I’d known at 3:30 that we’d have to wait until 5AM to check the bags in, I woulda said “fuck it” to charging the cell phones more and just napped. An hour and a half would have been worth it. But when we asked the woman who apparently mis-informed us, we would only have had 40 minutes to wait to check our bags, and it didn’t seem to make sense to me to try to nap for 30 minutes. Our mistake for believing her, I guess.

Kay’s note: United airlines is amazingly fucking lazy. The self check-in doesn’t actually let you do all the baggage stuff yourself, since they obviously wouldn’t want people throwing whatever they wanted onto the conveyor. So an employee is still required to do half of the work. Instead of having the employee look up your name and swipe your card or passport with the efficiency of someone who does it constantly, they have passengers slowly poking at screens they’ve never seen before and putting the wrong thing in and wondering how the scanner works and… Fucking United.

I know at this point that I’m EXTREMELY tired and grumpy, and I’m overly upset that we have to go back and wait another 30 minutes for it to be late enough to check our baggage. We’ve been awake for 23 hours at this point, 21 of which have been spent dealing with airports and flying, and I’m sick of it. I just want to be done. We’re so close and it’s highly annoying that we’ve got such a long layover. We could have driven home from DC faster than waiting for this flight, but we didn’t have a car and we wouldn’t have been in a fit state to drive at this point because we’re so tired… but it just makes the delay that much more annoying.

We go back and sit down, and a few minutes later, a United woman is walking up and down asking people about their baggage and directing them to the appropriate line, etc. I’m staring dumbly at our luggage, and I notice on our checked bag tags that the final destination on the tags is Boston. Boston? Does that mean the bags are already checked to Boston? Can we just hand over our bags to the TSA guys without going through the check-in process with United and paying their annoying baggage fees?

Light dawns in my tired brain, and we call the woman over and ask her if our tags mean that our bags are already checked. She confirms that they are, and all we have to do is hand them over to the TSA checkpoint guys. In fact, we could have used the “re-check” baggage point downstairs, she tells us. We tell her it wasn’t open when our flight got in, which seems to surprise her - do the United people not even know their own hours, or is this handled by some other part of the airport? Regardless, we can get up and walk our luggage over to the TSA guys, even though it’s technically too early for our flight, because they’re already checked. Yay! But why didn’t anyone tell us that before?

Kay’s note: the re-check thing downstairs was a United specific recheck. Didn’t see one for any other airline. And there was zero signage indicating that the little TSA booth at the end could be used for rechecking baggage.

So we walk our luggage around the corner to the TSA guys, who ask for our boarding passes and “go check something” with the desk people. But then they come back and say it’s cool and we can leave the luggage with them. (Oh, so weird to have people using American idioms in English to us! “It’s cool?” No, the airport is not fria, nor does any of us have a fria beverage or anything else “cool”… oh, idioms. I had forgotten about those.)

We walk off and leave our luggage with the TSA guys. JOY! Downstairs to the security checkpoint, because the one up here still isn’t open (it doesn’t open until 5AM, and it’s around 4:50AM.) We wait in line while people go through the ridiculous security procedures here. Nowhere else have we had to take off our shoes, take our laptops or other liquids out of our bags, etc. It just seems so excessive after all the other flying we’ve done, perfectly safely. Kay wants to complain but I keep asking him to not talk about it here of all places, because the wrong word could get either of us hauled off for questioning.

When we get up to the scanner thing, it’s one of the new ones (backscatter?) that takes a basically naked image of you. We’ve been reading mixed reports of the amount of radiation you get dosed with, and we also both feel strongly about the privacy issue - especially as the person who is reading the scans is literally right next to the machine. In the propaganda about these scanners, they say “oh, the person looking at the images isn’t even in the same place - he or she is on the other side of the airport, or in a room somewhere away from the scanner itself.” The idea is that the person looking at the images never sees the person getting scanned, and its completely anonymous. But the person looking at the scans here at this Dulles checkpoint is right next to the machine - there’s a little monitor and the person watches you walk up, get in the scanner, scans you and looks at your scan, and then watches you walk away. No, sir. This is not what we’ve been promised.

So when we get there, Kay and I both ask for alternate screening. We have to walk over and stand next to a gate and wait for TSA personnel to lead us off and basically give us a very thorough pat-down. And because I’m a woman, they have to ask for “female assist” and it takes a few minutes for a woman to show up. She then explains the procedure to me, careful to go into detail about the pat-down process in regard to “sensitive” areas - i.e. boobs, butt and crotch region. She then asks if I have any “sensitive” areas - basically, I think, trying to make sure I’m not going to complain afterwards about being touched inappropriately.

She asks if I want to go to a private room or anything, and I say “No, it’s fine” and let her pat me down right there in the checkpoint. She’s quick, impersonal and efficient, and asks me to wait there for a minute. She walks away, and then comes back and tells me I’m free to collect my stuff and go through, and thanks me - I assume for not giving her crap. I’m polite and friendly to her, as I know she’s just doing her job and they’re trying to protect the public - I wouldn’t want to pat down a bunch of strangers every day if I were her; seems like a pretty thankless job to me.

While we’re going through our pat-downs, several other people also opt out of the backscatter scanner, so we’re not alone in asking for alternate screening. That makes me feel better. There’s a line of people waiting to be patted down by the time we walk off with our stuff, safely through the security checkpoint.

Kay’s note: I just said to the guy “I don’t want the scanner. I’ll take the extra pat-down.” I have to admit my heart was beating pretty fast beforehand. Too many horror stories about the TSA bullshit and getting hauled into inspection rooms for hours and crap like that. We had time but I wasn’t happy. For me the bigger concern was the reports I’ve been reading from scientists claiming that the radiation is seriously exceeding what the government is claiming and that there has been a serious lack of testing of the devices.

We do a quick check of the immediate terminal, discover that everything is closed except Starbucks, and then go to our gate. A few other people are there, presumably also from international flights, mostly stretched out on the chairs sleeping. This seems like a great idea to us, as it’s nearly 6AM and we’ve been going for 24 hours with no sleep. So we stretch out with our tank bags and jackets under our heads, I use my Buff to cover my eyes and block out the light, we stick our headphones in to drown out the nearby TV, and sleep.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sleep stretched out on airport seats, but I’m out like a light almost immediately. I wake up about 40 minutes later because I have to pee, and I go to the bathroom. When I come back, Kay stirs, and I ask if he wants to go look for breakfast or sleep more. He decides breakfast, so at around 6:50AM, with 40 minutes of sleep under our belts, we wander off to see what exists (and is open) for food in this terminal.

We pretty quickly discover a brewery next to a Subway that has a few people sitting around. Kay grabs a menu to see if they serve breakfast items, but we’re both brain-dead from lack of sleep and can’t make any sense of the menu. A woman inside (who is dining there, not an employee) notices us flipping through and says “there’s a menu on the big board there.” We walk over to the big board and see breakfast type items, and decide to sit down and order breakfast. And then realize we don’t know what we want, so we take turns going over to the big board to decide. As I’m taking my turn staring at the big board, a woman comes over to take our order and shows Kay the breakfast section of the menu. It was there all along - we’re just too brain-dead to notice it. So we ask for orange juice and water (tap water we can drink again!) and stare at the menu for a few minutes, trying to get enough brain power to make a decision. It’s hard, but I do, and Kay decides to get the same thing I do, which makes it easy. The woman comes back with our drinks, I order, we stare blindly at the TV not even understanding half of what they’re showing, and then our food comes.

We get a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, hash browns (think fried potato piece hash browns) and I get bacon and Kay gets sausage. Delicious. Wonderful. The best breakfast we’ve had since leaving Colombia, I think. No more of this crappy Argentinian or Chilean “breadfast.” And after we’ve eaten, we’re both a lot more awake and alert. We have enough brain power to begin to comprehend what’s going on around us, and we can actually have a conversation again. We’re still tired but the food has given us the energy to go on a little longer.

Back to the gate, and I tell Kay I’m stopping at Starbucks again because I could use the caffeine and sugar to help keep me awake. It’s totally worth the crazy long line. We sit at the gate waiting for it to start boarding (it’s shortly after 8AM now so we don’t have too long to wait) and I sip my coffee. We both go to the bathroom one more time, and the plane starts boarding around 8:30AM. We get on, get our stuff stowed and make ourselves comfy for the short flight. Everything goes smoothly and we depart on time, without waiting forever or taxi-ing endlessly on the runways.

In the air, we get a drink service. “Yes, please!” as we’re still both thirsty and dehydrated from all of the flying. This drink service gives us each an entire can of beverage (Sprite and Ginger Ale) which is something like three of the teeny airplane glasses full. Yay! Kay watches the in-flight entertainment (TV shows) while I stare out the window and think about being back in the United States and trying to re-integrate.

When we land in Boston, it’s good to be home. The flight gets in 10 minutes early, and Kay stops to re-activate his cell phone in case the friend who is picking us up needs to reach us. Then we head over to the baggage claim area, where we find our friend (Yay! So good to see our friends again!) and collect our bags. Apparently everyone else has already been and gone as our bags are the only ones sitting there, which makes it easy. Our friend has gotten us a luggage cart and we wheel our stuff off whilst catching up.

Back in Boston

We notice, though, when we pick up our bags, that the TSA has decided to inspect one of Kay’s panniers. They’ve unwrapped the green shrink wrap and have taken some of the stuff out, but instead of trying to fit it back inside, have merely wrapped the entire thing with a big plastic bag and left the stuff they took out floating around loose in the plastic bag. We see a couple of holes in the bag from the baggage handling process and hope nothing is missing. Luckily, though, they opened the pannier properly instead of breaking the lock (we left the lock off the pannier when we checked them for just this eventuality) and there’s no damage to the pannier itself.

We get home quickly with our friend driving, and we go up and knock on the front door to let the dog-sitters know we’re home. The dogs bark and bark at us. Dog-sitter opens the door (we got back earlier than I told her to expect us and she was apparently cleaning for us) and our dogs act like they’re going to eat us. It’s sad to be on the receiving end of this like any other stranger in the house.

Go back out to collect our luggage, and then pile it in the middle of the kitchen floor. Our friend heads off, leaving us to get re-acquainted with our dogs and our house. The dog-sitter lingers a bit, finishing up a bit of cleaning (taking out the garbage, washing a couple of dishes and collecting a few of their things they’ve left here) and starts tearing up at the thought of leaving our dogs. She’s gotten really attached to them while she was staying here, and we tell her gladly she can visit the dogs. She works nearby and will be in the neighborhood regularly, and I’d be happy for her to visit with them. I’m not sure she will, but I’m glad to see she’s gotten so fond of the dogs. Meanwhile, they sit next to her like she’s a safe haven and we’re strangers.

When I sit on the floor to greet them, Kay’s dog comes over and sniffs me. I know I must smell weird from being in all of these places, eating strange food and traveling so long, but he seems to recognize me. He gets tail-waggy and gives me some kisses, so I pet him, but then he randomly snarls and snaps at me. I can’t quite figure out how to handle him. He gives Kay a couple of kisses, too, but seems much more interested in me, and I feel bad about that.

My dog, meanwhile, wants nothing to do with us. He sits in the corner and stares at us. But that’s what he did when I first got him, too - he’s a shy dog to begin with - so I know if I’m patient he’ll come around. But I want nothing more than to pet and hug him after being gone so long, and it’s hard to force myself not to push him.

The dog-sitter leaves and we run a few errands. We go to the grocery store as the house is out of some staples - trash bags, etc. - and spend a surprising amount of money on re-stocking the basic stuff we use every day. (Kay’s note: the house is out of EVERYTHING. Food, cleaning, everything.) Then we get back to the house, and we basically have to move into our apartment all over again. We packed up a lot of stuff for the dog-sitters, so we have to dig through boxes to find basic things like sheets for our bed, and towels for the bathroom. Kay wants his clothes so he can get some clean socks out. The dog sitters have also packed some stuff up, so we have boxes sitting around everywhere and I don’t know where half our stuff is - it’s going to take days to “move in” to our own apartment. I hadn’t counted on having to do this at the end of the trip. It’s daunting, and I’m exhausted.

Kay wisely decides we should have some lunch, so we eat some sandwiches (turkey and cheese, not ham and cheese!) and watch a TV show on DVD. It’s less entertaining than we remember, and our house feels excessively large. After the show, we walk the dogs because I fully intend to sleep for a while and don’t want to have to get up in an hour or two and walk them. Then I shower, while Kay passes out on the couch. I wake him and we go to our own bed, which feels GLORIOUS (I remember it being rather uncomfortable - it didn’t compress much and I’d get stiff after sleeping it for too long, but now our own pillows feel luxurious, and the bed feels so much more comfortable after all of the crap beds and hard ground we’ve slept on during the trip).

We both pass out pretty quickly, and don’t wake up until I have to pee around midnight. We’ve slept for around 7 hours and the dogs need walking, so we get up to walk them. Then we make pasta for dinner, because it’s one of the staples we got at the grocery and the grocery is now closed so we can’t get anything else, and watch a documentary on Netflix. Which again feels excessive and weird. Kay showers while I start writing up the past couple of days, and the next thing I know, it’s 4AM and we’re both exhausted again. I have a feeling our sleep schedules are going to be screwed up for the next few days.

I do note at this point that somehow I seem to have picked up a cold. Four months on the road and nothing worse than diarrhea and altitude sickness. But 24 hours of traveling and now I’ve got a bad headache, a sore throat, messed up sinuses and that “off” feeling that comes with being sick. Boo for my return to the US!

Also, the dogs seem to be adjusting quickly to having us home. By the time we wake up later, they’re acting much more normal. My dog napped on the floor next to the side of the bed when I fell asleep, and was in his crate when I woke up like normal.

Note from the next day: when we woke up this morning (Monday AM, Day 119) the dogs were completely back to normal. Kay’s dog did his normal morning stuff, and mine, too. They’re waggy and predictable and not acting weird at all anymore. That was a quick adjustment, but yay! Now I can hug my dog, and Kay’s dog played “shoe” with him this morning… it’s good to be with our doggies again.

Kay’s note:
This is the official end of the trip. We’re home. There’s nothing more to do. There’s a lot of stuff that’s being going through our minds about that, and a fair amount of culture shock coming back into the US. Dachary’s got a big post planned about that, and I’m working on another big post about the things we brought, specifically, what worked, what didn’t, and what we think we should know about some of the items so that you can better choose your own. When we finally get the funds together to go extricate the bikes we’ll write that up too I’m sure. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we come up with a couple more things to write about here, but yeah… no more daily reports.

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A couple with 2 dogs and a thirst for exploring the places in-between.