More on the Joy of Travel

Portland, Oregon—Ray's report on our trip home--July 19

We called NWA from Sauzet on Tuesday evening and were told there was space available on a flight leaving Thursday morning at 6:05 a.m. Since chances for another one looked slim to none, we grabbed it and started packing. About 36 hours later we were off, with lots of bumps along the way, starting with checking my bicycle in TLS. When I took it to France it was counted as a piece of luggage—one of my two included bags. However, when I checked it this time I expected to pay the equivalent of $90. It turned out to be €150 ($210)!

That was only the beginning.

We were taking our carry-ons through security when the inspector stopped at one bag and pulled out our pottery bell. It's the one we purchased in Scottsdale, Arizona in the late 1960s. He said we couldn't take it. We stood and argued for about five minutes telling him it was a piece of art (which it was) and it was very old (which it was) and not dangerous (which it wasn't). (We took it to France about five years ago. It passed PDX, SEA, and AMS security.)

Finally he said "check the bag." I took it back to the counter and was told, "too late." Back to monsieur to argue some more. A supervisor appeared and we got nowhere. Then a nice lady, a security employee, took us and the bell to the podium located just before one boards the plane. She asked the woman there if they could put it on the plane so we could retrieve it later. The answer was no.

She told us she'd take it back to her desk but we had to claim it before she went off duty at 1 p.m., or it would go into the "bin." We knew we were doomed. So there went our beautiful bell—a Soleri original that we've lugged through about 15 moves. Out with the old I suppose.

Then came Amsterdam, where I lost my (new Italian leather) wallet somewhere on the way to our gate. Schiphol airport lost-and-found office says it isn't there, so of course all cards cancelled and a new DL to get.

When we arrived in San Francisco we tried to get an earlier flight (the ticketed flight was for the next day at 9 p.m.). By that time we were really cooked from lack of sleep. All the Alaska flights from SFO to PDX were sold out, even overbooked. The counter person checked Oakland and found us a flight at 21h00 that night. After collecting all our bags and the bike crate we took a van to the Oakland airport where we had a seven hour wait; then the flight was delayed another hour.

We arrived home about 12:30 a.m. End of Story--33 hours after waking up in Sauzet.