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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Epilogue: Trains and Old friends

Buying the train tickets, I made a mistake, which was to buy a group ticket instead of a single day ticket for me and a single child ticket for Bowen. Not only did I end up paying more, it would make it much harder to sell the tickets later. My phone's slow internet made it tough to find the optimal train to take for easy train changes, but Thomas Bottinger, who owned 2 tandems with his wife and ridden all over Europe and the US, not only helped us figure out that we wanted to change in Pasing, but helped us carry the bike down and up and onto the train! He was going with us until Pasing, so we got a chance to chat. Europe is so much better about cycling culture than the US: he told me that when he dropped his children off to school by tandem, the other kids would swarm around and beg to ride that cool bike. Upon reflection, I can't ever remember that happening to me in the USA!

Once in the Munich Hilton, they graciously got out our bike and wheel boxes. I took apart the bike and stuck the frame into the big box and gave it back to them. This time, bystanders helped me pack, though even with help it still took me a good 90 minutes to get things into a state where I could stick things into the wheel case and move into the room to finish packing. By this time it was 5:00pm, and we did our shower and then went out to buy chocolate.

Alan Wissenberg and Daniel Vogelheim had agreed to meet us for dinner, but I pre-fed Bowen some airport sushi in case they were held up or the service was slow. It turned out though, that the Airport Biergarten, Airbrau, was itself a brewery! The beer on tap was excellent. Alan had train troubles getting in, but he was resourceful and found us.
We finished the night late, chatting late into the night, but we had plenty of time the next morning anyway, though I was glad I went to the airport early, as we got stuck in a broken-down elevator in between floors while getting to the United checkin counter!
Fortunately, Bowen stayed calm and in typical German fashion, it only took 20 minutes for the technicians to come and rescue us. After checking in, we waited for Manuel Klimek and his family so we could meet his baby.

The airport had no less than 4 passport controls between us and the gate, so we had to move at a good clip, though we stopped to buy some Kinder surprise eggs, chocolate that  was banned in the US because they were considered a choking hazard.

On the flight, Bowen fell asleep only in the last hour, so I ended up having to carry his backpack, my backpack, our carryon, and him on my shoulders on our way to passport control. One flight attendant saw me and said: "You must be the best dad in the world!" I smiled at her, not mentioning that this was far easier than the mountains we'd already climbed together in Europe.

Xiaoqin picked us up soon after we'd gotten out of the terminal, and I was soon driving home. After 3 weeks of not driving, American roads with way too many cars moving too fast felt strange, but I got used to it.

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