I was up til almost midnight, finalizing my packing.
I had four bags laid out, and needed to choose two. A little worried about the 30lb weight limit of the main bag, I had borrowed the neighbor’s scale, and attempted to see if it was accurate by using 30lbs of free weights. It wasn’t. Another reason to never buy commercially sold scales for body weight. I even showed the wife how inaccurate it was, in hopes it would dissuade future measuring-by-weighing.
Finally I threw the weights to the wind – if I had to adjust at the airport, we’d figure it out. The main bag was going to be my 30L bag from REI. I wasn’t quite fitting enough in there. Which was a bummer. That bag had the nice frame and hip straps. The other bag was an Outdoor Research dry/compression bag with backpack straps. (At least I thought it was a compression sack, I might be wrong.) It’s floppy and as long as it’s waterproof, I’m thinking it will be great to have in the supposed monsoon conditions. I opt for the OR bag, but I’m having a hard time packing it. Eyeing the approximate dimensions, I head to the car, where three frisbees remain from the box of 10 I purchased as factory seconds. The UltraStar is almost a perfect fit for the bottom of the OR bag. Stability achieved.
Packing the hard stuff in the middle, and the soft stuff around the outside (at least as much as I can), I load it up. Most of the Sawyer filter kit (I got the Starter Squeeze kit) went inside the Nalgene. Great use of otherwise unoccupied space. My books went in the middle as well, and the sandals went up against the outside, soft parts outward. Clothes, Hammock, almost everything else went in the big pack. Meds, toiletries, and overnight clothes went into the small bag. I was considering taking a small stuff sack. I could have used my old Jansport backpack, which would have been perfect, but when I sent it back for warranty fixes, they neglected to replace the zippers – almost all of which had reached the point of failure-while-closed. Not a good thing for a pack overseas. I grabbed the Aerostich Messenger Bag (medium I think), and loaded that thing up. Again, the waterproof-ness would prove useful, I figured, and even though it would be nice to have more small pouches/divisions for little items, I had no bag with those options to take.
We went to bed probably after midnight. I’d set the alarm for the next day, and woke up right away when it went off. Conveniently, I’d thought ahead to leave out one of my clothing-sets for the trip to wear as my travel clothing. Dressed in one of the long-sleeved shirts from Gander Mountain, and pants from the same, one of my pairs of wool socks acquired from years of Christmas presents, and the awesome hunting boots which had also been a Christmas present years ago, we left the house for the rendezvous.
She was a little nervous during the drive, but wasn’t crying. We both knew she might have a hard time while I was gone, but that would just have to be overcome as it arrived. We got to the church and I said hi to the few people I knew already. I met up with JB and put my bags by his van. My wife knows his family, so I was hoping that would be a help. They seemed like they were okay with him going – but there was a little bit of a pensive atmosphere mixed with the excitement.
The call went out to load up the vans and gather for a pre-trip picture. I could tell she was having a hard time, but at this point, the best I could do was give hugs and a bit of reassurance. With the vans loaded, we all gathered for a picture. Almost everyone not going whipped out a phone and took at least one picture of the group. Some tears were shed and goodbyes shared, and we loaded up for the trip to the airport.
It would take us the entire day to get to the airport.