Later today is the drive to LA Union Station to ship the bike to Flagstaff via Amtrak freight. Tonight I drive to another Amtrak station in the desert (can’t say where, I’ll ruin the suspense), stash the car someplace safe, take the train to Flagstaff, then ride back to the car to finish the tour. Shipping the bike from LA is necessary because shipping the bike as freight can’t be done at the other Amtrak stops along the Southwest Chief route.
The weather is forecast to be sunny all of next week, with highs in the 70s and 80s – with the exception of a chance of snow flurries tonight into tomorrow morning for Flagstaff, which is located at about 7000 feet elevation. I could delay the tour start by about a day to avoid the flurries, but I figured it best to leave tonight as planned and have an extra day in my pocket on the road.
The previous text was written earlier in the day, now fast forward to later in the day. The bike shipping from LA was successful, I didn’t know until it was time to pay that I didn’t have to send it as freight – I could still check it as luggage, since I would be boarding the train, even at a different stop. That was good to know because it meant it cost me only $5 instead of $45 to get the bike to the destination. It probably meant I could have sent the bike on it’s way from Fullerton (which was a luggage stop but not a freight origination point), which would have saved a three hour round trip to LA Union Station. Unfortunately, the savings on shipping the bike was almost eaten away by the $30 increase in train fare for buying the same day instead of on the web a few days ago.
Packing the bike itself was actually quite easy. I brought my spare Amtrak cardboard bike box that’s been in the garage for about ten years and brought the bike unboxed for the trip to the train station. The box is so big, that all most people have to do is remove the handlebars and pedals, then roll the bike in the 40″x70″x9″ box. I’m tall enough that I also had to lower the seat.
All that left very little time for packing, which turned into a mad dash consisting of printing out a list I’ve put together for a similar trip and then randomly grabbling all of the items and throwing them in my big Carradice saddlebag. Luckily I’ve been through this before. I’m traveling fairly light, using my commute bike instead of my fully loaded touring bike, but it concerns me that the saddlebag weighs about 10 pounds. But much of that is clothes for the cold first day, I may consider mailing them back home afterwards.
Now a few ramblings on technology for the trip. I’m typing this blog post using the WordPress iPhone app and a Palm Bluetooth keyboard (as mentioned elsewhere on this blog – the driver only works on jailbroken phones). I originally had problems with saving “local drafts” on the phone when not in cellular range, but uninstalling and reinstalling the app fixed that. Still, the local drafts feature seems a little buggy, but hopefully it will be a moot point as I should be within cell range at the end of each day.
I’m also carrying a small backup battery for the phone. No need for the solar charger on this trip since I will be hotelling it every night, so I can use my phone charger.
Well, I’m pretty tired, and it probably shows in the writing above. So I’ll call it a night, and hopefully you enjoy my daily updates!