|Journal for 28-Sep : Goulburn|
So much for the plush hotel ensuring I got a good nights sleep. Nodded off by 10pm, but was up and panting at 3:30am! This is a symptom of overtraining, which I imagine cycling 3000km without a day off qualifies as.
Got everything packed, or as ready as possible without storage bag for the panniers or a box for the bike.
Buffet breakfast, but in keeping with my experience at this hotel, the local bouncer gave me dirty looks the whole time I was there, and refused to let me leave until they checked I'd given the right room number.
Got a taxi to the "nearest" Wal-mart, $25 cab ride away.
Waited for 30min for it to open, reading the local paper: which featured not a single reference to anyone without black skin. It did include a good profile of legendary South African arch bishop Desmond "just call me the bish" Tutu.
After all that, Walmart didn't have the storage bags I was after. I tried calling bike shops about boxes, but most of those extracted from the hotel's sandscript phone book were either no longer in business, or just plain closed. United (eventually) assured me they had bike boxes at the airport. Ended up buying a suit case, my only real option for the panniers, and some bubble wrap. Got the third degree leaving Wal-mart too, made present photo I’D to pay by credit card (even though my photo is on my credit card), my bags "randomly" searched on the way out etc. I guess a white person shopping in a black neighbourhood is suspiciuos.
Cab back to hotel where I hoped to grab an
Hours sleep before noon checkout. I would have too, if the alarm clock in my room worked. Had a bath instead.
Got to the airport 10hrs early. Waited for 30 min at over sized counter to get my box. I thought it was going to be way too small, until I realised it was folded in half. Bike fit in beautifully with only minimal disassembly.
Had to wait 5hrs before I could check in, a long time to hold a full bladder (please don't leave baggage unattended, or it will be preemptively blown up).
Checked in OK, but made sign a waiver absolving United for any responsibility for damaging my bike. Signed it illegibly in the name of "Mr Get Stuffed".
Toothpaste confiscated as 3oz allowed, not my 4oz tube. My suggestion to squeeze half out brought a laugh but no sympathy.
Wished I'd bought some food at Wal-mart once I saw the prices airside.
Still no Wi-Fi internet, no T-Mobile GSM, internet kiosks $20/hr, payphones don't work etc. Pretty useless, especially compared with SFO.
Bloody long flight. Especially long given the in-flight movie projector in my part of the cabin wasn't working.
Took an hour to clear Aussie immigration, it's now faster for non-AU/NZ citizens, as Aussies have their passports scanned, are photographed, and then not-recognised by the facial recognition software.
Expensive disabled taxi ride to the train station. Lost it completely when Countrylink refused to take my bike because the huge United aitlines box was too huge. They offered me a microscopic mountain bike box instead, which would have required an oxy-torch and some welding to get my tourer in and out of.
Caught train mid-day cityrail train to Moss Vale, waited in the park to 5 hours for the Goulburn evening train. Very frustrating, because I could have ridden home in three hours from there, except I'd have had to ditch the suitcase I'd paid $us100 for. Finally made it to Goulburn walked my luggage an the bike home, 45hrs after leaving the hotel in LA.
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