episode 6: bad omens and shit hitting the fan

July 14, 2016

Read next: Episode 7

Yesterday my life started exploding in sharp, pain-in-the-ass, fragments. It was 2 hours before I left for the airport in Chicago when I got a message saying that Shane has had to back out of the Rally due to (very legitimate) personal reasons. That leaves just Eric and I to man this fully unprepared, 30,000 mile attempt to drive across a third of the planet and back. It also leaves the unsolved problem that Shane is the owner of Louise and to take her across borders without the owner… problematic. We’re working on it. We have already found a base camp in Serbia where documents and supplies can be forwarded so we can pick it up before we exit Europe. But that is just the unimportant minor-details part and doesn’t solve any real problems.

So that was the first sharp fragment. The universe didn’t want me to leave Chicago. I didn’t want to leave Chicago. The planes were delayed, then they were grounded. Then further delayed. I stepped off the plane in Iceland and yep, Iceland hasn’t gotten any warmer since last May. It was a quick connection in Keflavik and we were off on the short flight to Heathrow.

Let’s gloss over the fact that I have never lost my baggage when traveling. I have had nightmare connections and never had a problem. So this, of all times, with my backpack finally packed for nearly a year of travel in all climates (read: my life, my camping gear, all of my clothes) is when they lose it. They lose it when I have no hotel address, no friend’s address, and I don’t even have the address of the campsite we are staying at. They lose it when I don’t know where I will be in 3 days. Perfect. All I have on my feet are a pair of $3 flip flops.

I had a very fun conversation with the Baggage people. They were asking all sorts of difficult questions: Where do you live? What’s your phone number? Why don’t you have a phone number? What do you mean you do but it’s from New Zealand and won’t work if we call it? Well, wait, you’re staying at a campsite? What’s the closest airport to Biel, Switzerland? You should know, you just said you live there. But this is a Canadian passport… did you fly on this one? No? What are you doing? I don’t like difficult questions.

Eric pulled up in Louise (she looks a lot more questionable in person) at the International Departures loop – we’re both too cheap to pay for Pickup Parking. He went right into describing all the funky noises Louise has been making and how none of them are real cause for concern unless they are louder than the AC on setting 4. He's got some stray buoys from Norway in the roof rack rattling around up there and it sounds absolutely alarming. The clearance on this thing is like, don’t hit any potholes in the beautifully paved London road because we might get stuck in it.

I would also like to describe the state of the mess in Louise as verging on catastrophic. Maybe I’ll have a new definition for that word within the next 6 weeks. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. Louise is getting a makeover tomorrow if I can help it, but that is second priority to the question of: where the hell are we going?

I feel truly homeless: I carry everything I have in a 25L backpack and everything I have is a toothbrush, a laptop and camera equipment. Expensive hobo gear. I’d love my 65L bag back. We stopped at H&M for some undies and another shirt. Technically, that’s all I need. Mongolia, we’re still coming for you. We’re coming for you until we have run out of options. But at the rate we’re blowing options out of the water… anything can happen.

Cheers from London, England.

Read next: Episode 7

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