San Diego warm up

We planned to spend two nights in San Diego with Ann & Brad so today our goals were to get our phones setup with US SIM cards and to find an outdoors store so we can buy fuel canisters. After figuring out where an REI store was, we decided to make that our destination, knowing it would have everything we may need, and it was located near a Best Buy which would help get the phones setup.

However, the first task of the day was to get the bikes functioning again. We set to work after breakfast and put everything back into working order. However we had problems with the brakes on both bikes. With Jesse’s bike it is nearly impossible to use the ‘quick-release’ break system since it is so tight. We were able to with my bike, however my front brake was almost permanently engaged. Since I had just gotten an extensive tune up in Montreal I didn’t want to mess too much with the breaks ourselves and decided to leave it and is if it would adjust itself as we got going.

We started our 30km ride to REI, with my front brake partly applied the whole time. Though frustrating, I looked at it as better training since tomorrow we would be riding with all our gear. Through quiet suburban streets and with only a couple wrong turns we were able to make our way to REI. Nearly all the other stores in the mall were closed but thankfully it was open. They also have a bike service center so for only $20 each (plus the purchase of a membership) and we were both able to get our bikes tuned up and running smoothly.

While waiting for the bikes to be adjusted we stopped for a Mexican lunch. Even if it was ‘mall food’ Mexican as we were told, it was still great food and better most Mexican restaurants we had experienced before.

After browsing REI and not buying many things we wanted, we checked to see if Best Buy was open, and since it wasn’t we got back on our bikes to ride to the coast and then return to Ann & Brads.

The route along the coast which we took was not the most scenic. There was an additional route further out on a bit of an island in the water, but because of time we didn’t take that one. The one we were on seemed to go through factory and industrial areas, and for the most part didn’t give us much of a view. We also didn’t have time to go into San Diego’s downtown, so most of our visit to San Diego didn’t involve any of what most tourists would see.

After our 70km ‘warm-up’ We made it back before sunset, the main goal, and called it an early night.

Montreal departure

With a 5am wake-up we gave ourselves plenty of time to ensure we were all packed, the apartment was clean and ready for its visitors, and we could get out the door without feeling rushed. We had a mini-van taxi already booked and when we peaked out the door 15 minutes early it was already there waiting for us. Our neighbour Beverly watched as we found a way to load our bikes and bags into the van saw us off.

We arrived to the airport with plenty of time. Check-in was smooth though there was still some processing time and a fee of $220. This we were prepared for as we knew of the fee of $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second (the bike), plus $50 handling fee for a bike. All times two. The flight was relatively cheap so I won’t complain about the extra fees added for people travelling with additional luggage. However we hoped the baggage handlers earned their $100 we paid for the safe transportation of our bikes.

 “It’s not good if you quit your job right before coming to the US” – American customs

Going through American customs in the Montreal airport we had quite a few questions to answer. Were we bringing in food? How long were we staying? What exactly is it you are doing? What do you do for work? I was told that saying I just quit my job was not something US customs appreciates when they’re screening new arrivals – though she said because she didn’t expect we were going to go live in the US it was okay and with a bit of a smirk she let us through.

A quick and uneventful flight to Chicago gave me a chance to see what the show The Good Wife (thanks for the recommendation Magda) is all about – realizing it has Mr. Big, Chandler and Logan was initially distracting but maybe after a few episodes I would get used to that, and then seeing that HBO’s Girls season 2 was also available to watch also helped the time pass quickly.

Chicago brought us the smells of popcorn, cinnamon rolls, and McDonalds. However we opted for two personal deep dish pizzas to mark our time in Chicago.

The next flight from Chicago to San Diego was also thankfully uneventful. It did however make me realize how great it is to be able to listen to music during take off (which is allowed if it’s the airline’s onDemand system) and specifically I discovered that Coldplay’s Every teardrop song is particularly good for this.

Arrival, baggage claim and the taxi service in San Diego also went smoothly. We had prebooked a taxi with Flex Transportation, and once I turned on my phone I had a text saying they were at the airport waiting. With no customs to go through, we were surprised to walk out of the arrival area and be right there next to the street. All our bags and boxes were waiting. We grabbed a United Airlines cart to shuttle our things the few meters to the road but the porter saw us and insisted on pushing the cart for us. He just wanted a tip and that worked better than the $4 cart rental option.

We found our taxi, a friendly driver who took us to our Warm Showers hosts Brad & Ann. They were waiting for us and set us up in a bedroom. We met their daughter who also flew in a bit later that night, then after Jesse did a quick visual check on the bikes we went to sleep – tired from the long day but relieved that everything had gone well.

Ready to go?

We spent the morning packing our bikes into boxes – not an easy task! Our panniers are packed into three other larger bags to reduce our amount of checked bags, aside from one handlebar bag and one back pannier each which will be our carry on’s.

Our baggage fees will likely be close to the price of the flight, however this is expected so we won’t be surprised when we arrive at the airport. We already checked in online and added our bikes as one of our checked bags, then called Air Canada to register the bikes on the flight. So far no major hiccups.

We have van taxi’s booked already for both going to the Montreal airport, and when we arrive in San Diego. Through Warm Showers we have a place to stay for two nights in San Diego before we get started.

It’s the final countdown!

Jesse’s YouTube Corner

Spice kit excitement

While starting to get the smaller details organized, I went through our cupboards to see what dried food we already had that may be good to bring along as well as what spices will be good to have on hand.  Cornmeal, couscous, quinoa, oatmeal and red lentils were all taken out of the cupboard and will likely be brought along.  Almond butter and peanut butter is short listed.

Now for the exciting part.  I was trying to decide how to pack the spices, how many to bring, and if we only bring spice blends or individual spices.  Then I came across this:

Brilliant. Time to get started.