May 4, 2013: Travel Day 1, SFO

SFO to Changi To answer the #1 question on everyone's mind straight off the bat, it will take me exactly 40 hours of travel from the moment I locked my keys in my house to the moment I collapsed onto the bed at my hotel in Kathmandu. The world's tallest mountain range is almost exactly halfway around the world from the world's smallest, an 11 hour, 15 minute time difference. Only my friends from Colorado had further to go. If you'd rather not read the gruesome details, skip ahead to May 6. Click. Click... click... CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK! The sound of a door clicking shut, a pause... Shit! No!, and then the rattle of the knob with increasing panic as I realized I just locked my house key inside yet still clung desperately to the hope that maybe it didn't REALLY lock and I could just jiggle it open. No dice. Oh, the irony of spending literally months training for and planning a trip only to discover you forgot this one tiny but very important little detail; take the house key off the key ring and pack it in your travel wallet. My mind, in its early morning fog, had unconsciously registered the rental car keys in my hand as "keys... check. We're good to go." It proved to be a minor inconvenience as all my luggage was already stowed away in the rental car ready to leave. I briefly mourned the naked green juice in the fridge I planned to enjoy for breakfast that would surely be bad by the time I returned in three weeks. (It wasn't, and boy was I pleased to see it after the even longer trip home). Still, I'm not one to give up that easily. I grabbed my phone and YouTubed a video of a pint-sized MacGyver using a credit card to force a locked door open. I decided to try it with the only card I had with me, my debit card, and proceeded to do irreparable damage to the card while the door remained stubbornly locked. (Shredding my card ended up being a non-issue, as I experienced identity theft while I was away and received a shiny new card mere days after I returned.) Frustrated and somewhat glad to learn my house is not that easy to break into, I stopped by the office where once upon a time I had stowed a spare key. No luck there either, that must have been an old apartment key. My sister had the only other spare key I owned and she was conveniently visiting Oregon at the time. I finally gave up, said goodbye to my workaholic boss who was at the office on a Saturday to let me in, and hit the road an hour later than planned. Every time I drive a rental car I am reminded as to just how old my own car really is. Normally when I drive I can take the increased wobble of my tires and groan of road noise as a clue that I'm exceeding acceptable highway speeds in all states but Oregon. (In Oregon I'd probably get pulled over for speeding on a bicycle. Those folks are serious about slow.) I rested the weight of my hiking boot, on my foot so it couldn't get lost in luggage, on the pedal of this cheap economy rental and suddenly I was going 90 mph (145 k/hr). Who needs muscle cars anymore? Thankfully it had cruise control to keep me honest, once I finally figured out how to work it. I adjusted the bass level on the cheap stereo system back down to where I could actually hear the rest of the music and settled in to enjoy some radio on my drive to SFO. Radio was also somewhat of a novelty since my own antenna was lost when a drunk bicyclist crashed into it while it was PARKED in front of my old house in Chico. You can't make this stuff up. Suffice to say the CDs in my car are well-played. The trip to the airport was uneventful. As I crossed the Bay Bridge and looked at the water, I was reminded of the sad reality that I have yet to visit NorCal's coastline since I moved up here 6+ years ago. An oversight I planned to remedy this Summer, either by visiting Ft. Bragg or Santa Cruz. Or both. After turning in the car on the second floor of the rental car center, I followed the signs that told me access to the terminal monorail was on the first floor. Guess what? That's a lie. For anyone who really wants to know, it's actually up on the fourth floor. After that it was a general airport experience and flight. When planning the trip, it took me hours to decide which airline to take. A long layover somewhere appeared unavoidable. I finally chose Singapore Air based on the quality of the airport in which I would be camping out for so long. When I boarded the flight, I was amused that most of their flight attendants were pretty (or at least heavily made up), female, and wore traditional looking costumes. They gave us hot towels on boarding and before breakfast, which was so refreshing on a long flight. I kept thinking of The Wedding Singer. I had ordered the Indian vegetarian meals when I booked and was so happy with that decision. Not only were they delicious, and not just by airplane food standards, but we were served before everyone else. Sort of a way to feel first class while rocking it back in economy. I caught up on movies I'd been meaning to see (The Hobbit), TV shows I'd been meaning to watch (Game of Thrones), and books I'd been meaning to read (Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think). This epic feat of leisure activity alone meant I was finally on vacation. We stopped in South Korea to refuel and change flight staff. They made us ALL get off the plane with our stuff, go through security AGAIN, and then get back on the SAME plane and sit in the SAME seat with the SAME stuff. To think I thought the TSA was bad... well it is, but at least we're not the only country full of super control-freaks.