Nothing was open when we arrived, but the little market opened after 30 minutes or so. We were able to get some snacks.
The United counter finally opened. Now came the test. Would they accept our bikes as a regular piece of luggage? We thought Sarah should go first, as her bike was the closest to being 62 linear inches (Brent and I knew our bikes were more like 80 linear inches). We figured if they let Sarah's bike through, they would think ours were the same. Well, we ended up at different ticket agents. I put my bike on the scale. It was just under 30 lbs. I said, "Woo Hoo, less than 30 lbs!" The agent smiled, and put it near the baggage belt. Didn't even really look at the dimensions. He did the same with Brent's bike, then asked if it was a wheelchair. I was tempted to say yes, but instead said no, it was a bike. We were charged $135 for four pieces of luggage (the bikes and shopping bags). That means we were not charged extra for the bikes!
Sarah and Tom were at the counter next to us. The agent there was pulling out a tape measure...uh oh. Sarah's bike measured 64 linear inches, but they let it go. Tom had packaged his bike a little differently. It was longer. The lady made him repack it. Fortunately, we had brought the roll of cling wrap with us. He took the bike outside, and we repacked it to make it shorter. They accepted it. Okay, step one accomplished. We did find out that, because we are overnight in the Houston airport, we have to retrieve our bags and bikes, and keep them with us overnight. We also might have to pay baggage fees again, which sucks.
At security, they took the rocks Brent had collected. They said shells were no problem. So, Brent carried those rocks for nothing. Bummer.
This airport has, not one, but two Subway restaurants! Not that I needed to, because I've already checked a Mexico Subway off my list, but we still had sandwiches. Now we're just waiting to board...
Part Dos--It's Like the Movie "Terminal"
We arrived in Houston.
After awhile, Sarah decided to go upstairs and see if we could check our bags, and bikes. Amazingly, we could! Even more good news, we didn't have to pay again for the baggage (the e-ticket receipt had said we would have to pay twice for our bags).
Once we were free of our bags and bikes, we were able to go back through security to airport restrauntlandia. I wasn't terribly hungry, so I just got a salad.
Now we have hunkered down at gate E-1, as it seems pretty quiet. We've pulled out mats and sleeping bags. Only 11 hours and 45 minutes until our next flight...
Part Tres--A Less Than Restful Night
We maybe could have picked a quieter place to try to sleep. There was a late night flight to San Antonio that boarded at 11:00 or so. Just after they closed the doors, a guy comes running up. They wouldn't let him on, but about 3 hours later, everyone on the plane had to get off because there was some mechanical malfunction. The flight was now going to depart at 9:35am (they put everyone up in a hotel--too bad we couldn't have tagged on to that one!). So, the guy who missed the flight really didn't miss it, but maybe got on another flight, and therefore made it to San Antonio before his scheduled flight!
Anyway, there was that commotion from 1:00-2:00am. Not much sleeping happening then. I didn't really feel like I slept until about 4:00am. Then we were up about 5:45. I really wonder how long a person could stay in the airport before employees noticed. In a large airport, probably a long time.
Now we are waiting at the gate for our final flight...
Part quattro--So Much for our Tidy Wrap Job
As we boarded the flight, we caught a glimpse of the bikes being loaded. Holy crap! The shrink wrap on both Tom and Sarah's bikes was a mess! Mine and Brent's fared a little better. We think it was because Tom and Sarah had included their frame bags and seat bags in the bike package. Needless to say, we were a bit nervous when we got to baggage claim in Portland. Sarah's bike in particular might as well of not had any wrap at all! We don't understand why they didn't just cling wrap it again (we know they have the stuff). Anyway, we won't know if there is damage to any of the bikes until we reassemble them (that won't happen today).
DA and his wife drove the Swallow's cool van (a Mercedes Sprinter type van--I could live in it!) to the airport. We loaded everything up and headed for Olympia. It's weird to be back in winter weather. I keep thinking it should be later than February.
We said a final goodbye to Tom and Sarah after getting them to autograph the cover of the latest Adventure Cyclist Magazine of which they are the cover story (about their Trans America Trail ride). See? I said they were famous! I miss them already!!!
Linda came and picked up Brent, and I finally took a shower and put on clothes I haven't worn in the last 54 days!