Day 600 – travelling fun

(January 12, written by Dave)

Not all parts of a bicycle tour are fun.  One particularly un-fun part is often the travel getting to the start or from the end of a ride.  We spent the last 36 hours travelling from Ushuaia to Portland, Oregon.  Boy, was it fun.


Nancy leaving her kettle behind in Ushuaia – she rode with this on the back of her bike all the way from northern Peru

We thought we were flying Aerolines Argentinas from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.  And we did that, but along the way, we stopped in Trelew, Argentina (yeah, I’d never heard of Trelew before either).  This stop was not listed on our booking or itineraries.  In fact, our trip was billed as 2 stops.  I’m not sure if Trelew was planned all along or things changed after we booked.  Oh well, 2 stops or 3 stops, no harm done.

straights of magellan

The Straights of Magellan – boy planes travel fast compared to us on bikes

In all honestly, it would be hard to complain about the Aerolines leg of the journey.  And one big reason for not complaining was that they did not charge us for our bicycles.  And as a bonus, they checked them all the way through to Portland.  That’s at least a couple hundred bucks saved right there.  We are not sure why but what the heck, we’ll take it.

buenos aeres

Buenos Aires – biggest city we’ve seen in forever

Buenos Aires was a 4 hour layover but we found a bank, waited in the queue and got a good exchange rate on our last pesos.  So that worked out perfect.  The 10-hour flight to Houston was a non-event for me as I slept almost the entire way.  That is after the lovely dinner service was completed.  I’m including a photo of the airplane dinner here just to show you that not all travel meals are as glamorous as the ones we normally photograph and share on this blog.

dinner - ok

All travel meals are not created equal – posting this one here to give equal time to the below average meals.

We had 4 hour layover in Houston as well.  TSA was fantastic there.  It didn’t seem like they were shorthanded or stressed.  If anything, there were more agents than needed.  As with most international flights to the USA, you have to claim your bags, take it through customs and then re-check them.  In Houston, we discovered that the lovely baggage handlers felt it appropriate to leave our cardboard bike boxes out in the rain.  One was soaked, the other damp.  Both were also a bit banged up but we had tape and re-taped them.


Dave in Houston – big boots here

I think a lot of the box damage came from them shoving two bike boxes through the normal luggage conveyor, rather than the oversized one.  I was not overly excited when I later saw the boxes being reloaded on the Portland flight, with the bottom of Nancy’s box opening as it went up the belt into the plane.  Oh great, something else to worry about.

We went to the United lounges in Buenos Aires and Houston.  In the former we had to put toilet paper in a basket.  In the later, it was straight into the toilet.  Welcome home, as the TSA security agents said, after checking our US passports.  No more toilet paper baskets for a while I guess.  The agent didn’t ask where we’d been and we didn’t have to explain having no stamps in the passports reflecting last 20 months – they are all in the Australian passports.

The 5 hour flight from Houston to Portland went without incident.  It’s supposed to rain in Portland all winter but we arrived to sunny skies, and had nice views of the Cascade peaks on the way in.  We were met at the airport by Akemi and Eric (old friends from Nancy’s work), Jan (Nancy’s mum), Gretchen (one of Nancy’s sisters) and Andy (Nancy’s brother).  It was so nice to see all the friendly faces.  It was almost as if we’d never been away.

baker and rainier

Mounts Baker and Rainier

jan, nancy, akemi, eric and gretchen

Jan, Nancy, Akemi, Eric and Gretchen – part of our welcoming committee

Nancy’s bike box came through the oversized chute in Portland, but it was upside down because the bottom had completely broken out.  Someone, somewhere had tried to retape it with masking tape – now there’s a great idea on a bike box weighing 50 pounds – masking tape, brilliant.  TSA had inspected both boxes as evidenced by their tape on the tops of the boxes.  We have no idea who taped the bottom.  I didn’t pack anything loose in Nancy’s box so everything seems ok – it’s all just a little frustrating to make the effort to pack bikes carefully only for them to be abused by the baggage handlers.  Like I said, the getting to and from a bike ride can be the worst part of trip.


We made it.  And yes, that bike box is upside down.  We had to put it in the cart that way to prevent the bike from falling out.  How exciting!

But anyway, we’re here.  We’re safe.  We made it through customs, immigration, TSA (in the USA) and PSA (in Argentina).  We’ve been X-rayed 3 times.  Sniffed by at least three different dogs.  And had our brand new bag that we bought in Ushuaia torn.  Is riding your bike across the Americas stressful?  Nah, it’s nothing compared to 36 hours in the hands of the airlines and their security partners.

This really will be the last regular post.  It is day 600 and we are really done.  The next couple posts will be spread out of over the next weeks and months.  We’ll do a trip statistical summary and a gear summary.  Until then, we’ll be giving you and your email inboxes a break…  Phew, deep breath, we made it!

25 thoughts on “Day 600 – travelling fun

  1. I will miss your near daily blog updates. I am sure many others will as well. While you are in Portland perhaps you can arrange to show a “best of the best of the best photos” and keep the show down to just a few days. Let us know. Or get over to the beach for a visit. There is a new Mexican restaurant in Cannon Beach, open all of 3 days. I had empanadas for lunch today and they were quite good. I don’t know how they compare with what you found. Welcome to Oregon. (I’ll bet you scored some big son-in-law points by bringing Nancy back safe and sound.)

  2. David and Nancy

    How long are you in town? I’m just getting over a cold but Carol is still in the middle of hers but we would love to see you.


  3. Welcome back! So happy you and bikes made it back all together. Nancy, wishing you an early Happy Birthday! Let us know when you come to Nevada!

  4. Yes, I have to add my thanks to Dave for bringing my ‘little girl’ home safe & sound! A huge thanks also to all the friends they met & made while riding for 20 months! Those friends & all of you Readers were always encouraging for “the kids” & the Moms as well as the other family members! Thank You!!

  5. Congrats on the completion of This journey. I met you guys a year ago in Oaxaca. Glad you made it back through the airport chain. Im sure that was stressful after so much tranquil beauty of travel. On to the next adventure.

  6. Wow! What a journey! I followed you when I saw your post from in Brazil near the oil rig and field. The amazing thing is the scenery doesn’t really change dramatically between the North American continent and the South American continent. What does change is languages spoken and cultures of the people living there.

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