The Final Countdown

We leave in 48 hours. Wow! Is this really happening? After all this waiting, now we’re suddenly crazy busy trying to take care of all of the last minute details that simply can’t be taken care of earlier, as well as several that should have been finished long ago. Nothing like procrastination!

We’ve had people ask, “Why leave now, when you’ll still be riding with a pain in the ass?” We assume they are referring to Julie’s recent medical issue and not to one or more of the members of Team Lumaca!

See how much taller Julie's right shoe is now?
See how much taller Julie’s right shoe is now?

Before answering that question, an update: Julie is getting better every day. On the 11th, she had a professional bike fit. The saddle was dropped a quarter of an inch, slid forward a few millimeters, and most of all, we discovered that one of Julie’s legs is considerably shorter than the other. We already knew there was a small discrepancy, but for whatever reason, this saddle really accentuates the difference. We built up the bottom of Julie’s right shoe by almost half an inch. These adjustments decreased the pressure on her right sit bone, and Julie went from riding 3 miles to 9 miles overnight! Yesterday, Julie rode 12 miles, fully loaded (the bike, not Julie’s blood alcohol level). So, while we’re not quite ready for a century ride (a 100-mile ride), we are upping our mileage every day.

Mark Training along Sacramento River
Mark training along the Sacramento River

Now back to our reasons for leaving on the 17th:

  • First and foremost, thanks to Mark’s career in the airlines, we have lifetime flight benefits. Which means that we can fly ticketless, and practically free. Woo hoo! The catch is that we must fly “standby”, aka space available. We show up at the airport and wait until every paying customer has boarded the flight. If there are any seats left, they dole them out to us freeloaders. No seat, No fly. So there is no guarantee that we’ll make it to our destination. And each leg of the trip is a new gamble. Making it onto the first flight doesn’t guarantee getting on any connecting flights.

We had planned to leave mid-April, threading the needle between spring breaks and summer vacations. Had we gone then, we’d have had no problem. Now however, we’re pushing up against summer vacation. The later in the season we leave, the less chance we have of making it. A few years ago, in early May, Julie tried to go to Italy to visit friends and family. She made it out of Sacramento, but then couldn’t make it on a connecting flight. She spent 4 days at that intermediate airport before finally giving up and coming home! We’re already rolling the dice by waiting as long as we’ve waited. To wait any longer will make standby travel impossible.

  • Second, we planned over a year ago for a good friend of ours to housesit. She is giving up her apartment and moving in for the duration of our trip. We live in a very small house and being a roommate was not what she signed up for! Her lease is up on May 18, so we need to be gone by then.
  • Third…Is anybody ever really ready to embark on a grand adventure? We like to say that it isn’t an adventure if you’re not at least a little bit scared. At a certain point, we have to establish a firm departure date or else we’ll keep coming up with excuses and reasons why we’re not ready. And May 17th made the most sense for us. The To Do list is gargantuan. New things get added to the list daily. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve taken care of the critical items. Everything else is gravy.

    bike trail along sacramento river at sunset
    A parting shot of our beautiful bike trail at sunset

9 thoughts on “The Final Countdown”

  1. Wow, the time has finally come! Hope the flights work out and that you and your gear leave/arrive together!!
    Lots of hugs and wishes of good luck and a great trip!!
    Baci e abbracci,

  2. Good luck, both of you! Don’t forget to email me, Julie, if you decide to go to Naples of further South. Our house is open to you both. Antonia Protano Biggs.

  3. Remember Mark us Kiwis still have “Husband of the Year awards”and in 47 years of marriage I have only won this twice.
    Your Julie will need special care taken of her during this journey for you to be up to these high standards.
    In NZ our women write the HOTY manuals. Ask your Julie for guidelines.
    Love Chris and Julie in NZ

    1. Hi Chris,
      Julie has been “reminding” me constantly that she will need special care. I have been unable to meet to fully meet “these high standards” but, I continue to try.
      Julie told me that I have been runner up a couple of times for HOTY award. I never quite make it over the final hump.. Personally, I think the HOTY manual is constantly being revised. Someone needs to print copy of the HOTY manual and the revisions and distribute them to all mankind. There would be a Noble Peace Prize awarded to them.

      Love, Mark & Julie in CA (for now)

  4. We’ll be following you along the way in “spirit”. Keeping our fingers crossed that you make the critical flights needed to start the journey.
    Pam and Dave Abbott

  5. This post had me cracking up several times! The photo of the sunset is fabulous.
    You are going to have a wonderful adventure! Buon viaggio!!!!

  6. YAY—-the adventure begins! I am so excited about this new chapter in your lives. This will no doubt be a trip of a lifetime and you are going to be swamped with so many enriching experiences. I am so glad you will be taking us along with you. So happy for you that you got the butt thing figured out—-now we will all keep our fingers crossed for two empty seats. Take care and ENJOY!!—–Kathy

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