Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Other side of the tracks

August 31st, 2011

I’d scrambled up the steep embankment, over the rail tracks. Sliding down the other side, struggling to stay on my feet. Past the fish processors sat on plastic drums, enjoying a short break outside. Barely a glance from them. Stand knee deep in fish guts I suppose and a lost Englishman shuffling past barely warrants a raised eyebrow. But if they’d not really noticed me, I really wasn’t that bothered. I’d DHL’s Anchorage air freight centre in my sights. About to be reunited with my trusty steed.

Conclusion of the on-move from Australia within my grasp. Retrieving Emma the last piece of the jigsaw. A handful of paperwork to present to the shippers. Inside, a small line of people waiting to retrieve their goods. That could wait, for I’d spotted the complimentary coffee. Chance for another caffeine fix as I struggled with lack of sleep. Not that I’d be able to even if I’d tried. Cursed with insomnia.

Host Linda had dropped me a little earlier back at the airport’s North Terminal. Deserted. Much of it being renovated. I’d drifted around for quite a while until I eventually found Customs. I was sure I’d smiled a lot. My recollections a bit hazy. The officer at the counter very methodical. Kept thinking, as best I could, temporary importation. No duty to pay. He made several phone calls. What, I wondered, was the issue? I’d explained I’d been careful to thoroughly clean my bicycle. Definitely no soil on it.

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The difficulty was, as far as I could make out, how he should classify the bicycle. I really didn’t care, provided he’d release the bicycle. A few of his colleagues packed up and left. I began to wonder if I might be obliged to return the next day. No more calls. Instead asking another officer if he’d a particular form. I didn’t catch the details, but it sounded encouraging. Rummaging in a drawer. He then returned to the desk. A few scribbles, boxes to tick, my signature. And then the release stamp I sought to retrieve my steed from the shippers.

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Waving goodbye

August 23rd, 2011

Boxedbike

Time to part company. For a short while. My trusty steed bound for Alaska, air freighted for free by Robyn and her team at DHL in Melbourne. Collected by courier and routed via Los Angeles to Anchorage, she’d get there before me.

Thoroughly cleaned, every trace of soil and grime removed, so as to pass muster with US Customs, I’d managed to find a larger bike box than the one I’d found in Hong Kong. Easier to pack than before, but still time-consuming to get right and make sure she made it in one piece.

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Flying free

August 11th, 2011

I can cope with the sleep deprivation. The check-in queues. The seemingly endless security controls. Even sitting next to the odd fellow passenger who, you suspect, just loves to super size their meals. If there’s something worth it at the other end. Like Alaska. But, add a boxed bicycle and another forty kilogrammes of awkward baggage and mustering any enthusiasm becomes a bit of a struggle.

Fortunately, thanks to some help from The Outward Bound Trust, there’d been a phone call from Robyn at DHL South Pacific. Yep. That well known international shipping and courier company. Yes, she explained, they’d air freight everything for me. Details to sort out of course. Assured her I’d make sure everything was in order so not as to cause embarrassment with US Customs. Clean tyres and tent pegs. Just as I’d done for flying into Australia.

This was good news, I thought as I put the phone away. Really good news. One company rather than three different airlines. No struggling with boxes of kit around four airports, two terminal changes and an overnight stop in a Hawaiian hostel dorm. And a substantial saving in excess baggage charges. Of the order that would buy you a return airfare from Heathrow to Washington. No. Seriously.

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