Life is good - I made it to the US and everything worked out as planned! The flight was a nightmare - I was sitting in the last row (very cramped!) and the flight was extremely bumpy. In the end I felt so sick that I thought I would faint going through immigration. Luckily I didn't because the immigration officer just stamped 3 months into my passport which was the worst that could possibly happen. I asked him why and he told me that people without a visa just get 3 months. I pointed out that I have a visa that was lying just in front of him. "Oh," he said, "I didn't see that." and stamped 6 months into my passport. Luckily I had paid attention...
My bike in Anita's garage
After I had passed this first obstacle I was wondering about my bags and my bicycle - and another miracle happened: Both turned up complete and undamaged! Now I just had to manouver through LAX with a huge bicycle in an even bigger cardboard box and a big bag on a cart. I had a horrible headache from the flight and my stomach was making loops all the time. I was just praying that Anita would really be there and pick me up. And: there she was with a sign in her hand saying "Christine with bicycle"! Life was good again. We parked the bike in her garage, I repackaged my stuff and took a little nap, so when Matti turned up I was a normal human being again and didn't feel like a zombie any more. (Matti aka Speedo is a German CDT hiker I had first met on the internet and later a couple of times at his home in Cologne. Anita is an old friend of Matti's and his girlfriend. Matti had just finished a section hike of the Hayduke trail when I arrived in LAX - and all this happened more or less coincidentially..)
Anita, Matti and I
We did a little bit of sightseeing and had something to eat, but I must admit that I fell into bed at 9 pm. I slept like a rock despite the fact that Anita is living next LAX airport and there were airplanes taking off and landing the whole night long. Anita dropped Matti and me off at LAX the next morning on her way to work so I had some time to look at Matti's Hayduke Trail photos. And then I was off to the next leg of my trip. I flew to Chicago to meet Raru.
Matti seeing me off at LAX
And again everything worked out: The flight was nice, my bag turned up undamaged and Raru was already there despite the fact that the flight was half an hour early. We even had time to visit his ex-wife Sisu and their baby John. (I met Raru and Sisu on the PCT in 04.) I am in DeKalb now where Raru is living and repack all the resupply for our 2 week paddling trip. We will leave in the afternoon in his old pick-up truck with his canoe and drive up to the Boundary Waters Canoe area where we 2 rookies will start our paddling trip. I am really excited about it and do hope it works out better than my cycling trip. We will be out in the wilderness for 2 weeks now and I don't expect any WLAN there, so there won't be any postings for the next 2 weeks.