in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 5, 1999 3:00 pm
Today's the big day; off to Australia in search of "fame and fortune" (or... is that infamy & misfortune?). Okay, let's see... check-in at the aiport is 5 pm, departure is 8 pm.... So why am I starting to pack my bags at 2:30?? All the while, frantically writing cheques, addressing envelopes, sending/receiving faxes, sending/receiving e-mail, answering the phones and keeping an eye out for the UPS and FedEx drivers. Oh, and of course, planning our route to the airport so we can make two stops for last minute race car parts pickups.
5:00 pm: Vancouver International Airport. Great. We're on time, the check-in counter is open and there's no lineup. Piece of cake.... NOT!...... My frequent flier card isn't working, our seat assignments are guaranteed torture and then comes the weigh-in of our luggage. BIG trouble! (The limits are 33 kg. per bag and two bags per passenger). First up, the firesuit, helmet (and anything else that would fit in it) bag. 20 kg. Good. Next bag.... 42 kg.... BIG TROUBLE! "What's in those bags?" Auto parts. "You mean dangerous goods?" No, No, just auto parts. "No way, not on this plane"
Now we're in big trouble. The other three bags are scaled and two more come up overweight. Plus, we have to prove to "Ms. Tight-Ass" that we're not terrorists or that our race car parts won't cause the plane to blow up and/or crash. "Open up the bags and let me see all this stuff"
Try to picture it: 5:15 pm at a very busy airport (with a lineup starting to build behind us) and we've got four suitcases full of parts, underwear, socks, etc. spread all over the concourse. As the lineup continues to build, the negotiations continue and then we reach the bottom line: $150 for the extra bag, PLUS $450 for each overweight bag. Yikes, $1500 extra just to get on the plane. And no, we can't try again tomorrow with an extra suitcase as our tickets are non-refundable.
6:00 pm After several, heck, at least a dozen, re-stowings of our luggage, they all finally pass over the scale and the "tech inspection" ends. Total cost: Only $150 for the extra bag. Cheaper than FedEx by a bunch. (So why didn't you just put all that stuff in the container with the race car, Bob?) The two pairs of cylinder heads had to travel with us as Tom has to finish porting them before the container arrives.
Which, by the way, is still.... at least according to the steamship line.... due in Brisbane on May 28, but we're not putting any great faith in that. All the other parts in our suitcases were either being worked on or delivered or purchased after the container left.
7:00 pm: We have to pass through "Security Check" before we can enter the boarding lounge. More drama. Lots of loud beeps and a very ominous looking gathering around the x-ray machine as they scan Tom's carry-on bag. "What are you carrying in there, sir?" Oh, a few tools, some extra socks and shaving gear. "Could you please open it for a visual inspection?"
Opening the tool box inside reveals a die grinder, carbide bits and arbors. Hmm.... "This looks like a disassembled firearm... What did you say it was again?" It's a die grinder used for head porting. At this point we may as well have been talking Swahili, as the $7 an hour "security professionals" were totally befuddled looking at the tools. A quick conference and a short inspection by an RCMP officer finally gave us the go-ahead. Another hurdle cleared.
8:00 pm: We're boarding the plane. Finally, all the planning and dreams are gelling into reality. We're actually on our way. We are really, truly, actually going to Australia. Despite all the "aggro" at check-in, our seats for the first leg (to Hawaii) of the trip are great. We've got five seats for the two of us. Lots of leg and elbow room. At least the next five-and-a-half hours should go smoothly. And surprisingly, it does.
2:00 am: Honolulu International Airport. We're sitting in the snack bar watching CNN on a big screen TV. Images of mayhem and destruction half a world away provide an almost surreal counterpoint to our visions of where we're headed. At this point, almost nothing seems real. We're in dreamland already.
Note: One of these days I must do a stopover in Honolulu. I've been through there five times in the last eighteen months, each time in the middle of the night and all I've seen of the place is the runway and the inside of the airport. No time for that today though... we're on a mission!