Packing and prepping - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

November 15, 2023

Packing and prepping

Dear little friends,

Some people are early packers. They buy electrolyte packets even before they buy airline tickets. They make long elaborate lists, cross off items, then think of something they did/packed, write that down too, and put a line through it.

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Steve Miller/GrampiesIn our home this would definitely be Dodie. Steve doesn't do any of the sorting, packing, or list making. His role is limited to technology, computer work and bicycle maintenance, repair and carrying heavy things. It works for us.
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3 months ago
Frank DenmanWell done on the bikes you will luv the Mekong mostly flat except bridges over Mekong looking forward to updates xxxx
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3 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Frank DenmanWe DO love the Mekong and will be very happy to see it again, it's like an old friend.
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3 months ago
Jen RahnIt brings me great joy to know that there are other people who enjoy including completed tasks and packing items on a list .. just for the pleasure of crossing them off.

Great Joy!!
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnOh yes, what's a list without adding and subtracting at the same time! Do it all the time.
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3 months ago

Some tear around the house in a frenzy on the last day before a flight, running to the store for lithium batteries or the right size toothpaste. At midnight before an early morning flight they are puttering around with the lights on folding the laundry they did at dinnertime while the early packer is trying to get some shuteye. 

We won’t elaborate on who is who here. Let’s just say that after 8 trips together the early packer has put their foot down on the frenzy and will absolutely not tolerate it, and the frenzied one has seen the light in keeping last minute stress down. We’re not getting younger. We don’t need panic in our lives, there will be plenty of that to come on the road.

So here we are, within a week of leaving and we are mostly packed. My bike box is sealed up with yards of tape, Bruce’s is almost there. 

Before more details on packing our new Bike Fridays, I would first like to lift a glass to the boxes we are using. Back in January of 2020, we cut our trip short to return home to help my daughter manage the last few weeks of her pregnancy with twins. As I’ve said before, one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, because those little girls arrived two weeks before we would have returned home on our original ticket. And then the pandemic lid slammed down immediately after their birth.

From our little town on the Mekong where we came to that decision, we had to shuffle flights and get ourselves to the Bangkok airport. And we had to find boxes. So we rode to Ubon Ratchathani, dumped our stuff in our room, and then went to a bike shop and bought two empty full-sized bike boxes. The shop owner graciously delivered them to our hotel, complete with packing materials that we were so grateful for.

January 2020. Building the boxes in Ubon Ratchathani. I measure and cut, Bruce assembles. What a team.
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Waiting to check in at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
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The boxes survived in great shape the trip to Portland, so we used them again to fly back to Bangkok a year ago. Unusually, there were folks there who offered to store them for us so after three months, there they were. That was the only bike trip we’ve taken where we started and ended in the same city, and we aren’t going to do that this trip so on Sunday the estimable boxes will take their last journey. They’ve done a great job, having been on thirteen different flights by the time their career has ended. They are somewhat battered, and the ratio of cardboard to packing tape is getting to be remarkable, really. We’ll give you a report of their condition after we land in Ho Chi Minh City.

October 2022. Lots and lots of packing material.
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Janice BranhamThirteen flights?! The cardboard boxes we used last year were in rough shape after the first flight to Amsterdam. You found some sturdy specimens there.
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3 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Janice BranhamJust to clarify, by 13 I mean by each flight required to get from Portland to wherever it was we are going. So, on Sunday there will commence three flights: 1 to San Francisco, 1 to Taipei, and 1 more to Saigon. Each time these boxes get unloaded, transferred, and reloaded there is risk of damage, so that's why we're counting them that way.
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Janice BranhamJanice, I think luck has been involved more than sturdy. That and the fact that there isn't one inch of exposed cardboard anymore. They are 100% taped, which makes them slightly less vulnerable.

One time, before bikes, we had a large cardboard box full of beautiful Lao silk and while sitting on the plane in Bangkok we could see it outside waiting to be loaded onto the plane in a torrential downpour! The next time we saw that box, in San Francisco, it had literally melted and could not even be picked up. The contents had to be poured into a large plastic bag they gave us. But we had put all the silk in zip lock bags fortunately and nothing was ruined. Pretty tense though as we watched the box get soaked in the downpour.
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3 months ago
All sealed up.
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November 2022. The bikes are set free, and we hauled the empty boxes a few blocks to our friends' apartment.
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January 2023. It was pretty sweet to still have all that good packing material, and to not have to make new boxes.
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All that being said, as we pack them for the last time, we realize that with our new bikes, slightly larger boxes will be in order when we make more in Bangkok in mid-February. I’d say at least two inches in length and one in height. This means they will slightly exceed the 62 lineal inches that the airlines require, and while that is worrisome, I have yet to see a ticket agent whip out their measuring tape and check the dimensions, they are mostly concerned with the weight. And in Bangkok they always send us to the oversize baggage area anyway, even though they are not oversized. Our bikes are a snug fit in these boxes and the sides bulge oh-so-slightly, I will feel better with a little more room for cushioning. 

I'm not super happy with the fit in this box. We need it to be a little longer. The fold-down seat mast sticks up more than I want it to.
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But eventually it all fits in. Much more packing material was added after this.
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Jen RahnImpressive!
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnCrossing our fingers on both hands.
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3 months ago

So, while we are pretty prepared for our trip and feel like we have this whole thing down now after four previous bike trips to SE Asia, it wouldn’t be an adventure if there wasn’t a little tension about transferring our nagas across the planet. We have AirTags on the bikes and in the checked duffels, which are also starting to show their ages. But, honestly, whether we’ve just been stupidly lucky in the past, I really am not worried. We’re ready for takeoff.

Or, at least one of us is ready for takeoff.
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Jen RahnAll in me that is hard wired for planning lets out a sigh of relief.

When all is ready ahead of time, all is well!
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3 months ago

 

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Kat MarrinerThe list is near and dear to my heart! I have a stack of them from trips, adding and taking away as things change. Once upon a time, an entire pannier was dedicated to FILM and camera equipment. We were stronger then. Sigh
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanYes, I have lists from 25 years ago, pre-cycling days. Those lists are like ancient history and kind of fun to read although startling how much stuff I took on my back. Even the lists from year to year change quite a bit mostly because technology changes quickly.
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3 months ago