Friday, August 22, 2008

Steel Challenge World Championship - Part 1

Our big adventure started early last Wednesday morning as we grabbed a quick breakfast, loaded our bags into the car, and headed out to meet up with the Whidbey-SEATAC shuttle bus which would take us across the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry, then South of Seattle to the Seattle Tacoma International Airport, also known as SEATAC. Everything went smoothly and an hour and a half later we were at the airport.

Check-in at Alaska airlines was uneventful, and I declared the handguns locked in the hard sided case strapped inside of my suitcase. I signed a small tag provided by the ticket agent and slipped it into the gun case, per airline regulations. There's just enough gap in the back near the hinges so I can slip the tag into the case without opening the case.

From the Alaska counter I took my suitcase to the TSA area and they opened the suitcase and the gun case and checked everything over, gave it their seal of approval, and sent it on it's way. I got to visiting with one of the TSA guys and he asked about the Carbon fiber barrel. I told him it was a Volquartsen, and he mentioned that he had several Volquartsen items on his own Ruger 10/22. What a concept, have the TSA gun inspection guys actually be gun owners!

The flight to Burbank was also uneventful, just as I like them to be. The landing at Burbank was interesting, as what felt like a combination of wake turbulence and some thermal activity near the ground made the pilot earn his wages. There were a few white knuckles on some of the passengers, for sure.

We picked up our bags and headed for the Alamo rent a car counter to pick up our car. We had reserved a mid-sized car, but they upgraded up to a Pontiac SUV at no charge. We be stylin' for sure!

The drive through North LA traffic was about as ugly as expected, but it thinned out a little once we got up I-5 a ways. In about 30 minutes we took the Valencia/Magic Mountain exit from the freeway and pulled in to the Hilton Garden Inn, the event hotel for the Steel Challenge World Championships. After checking in at the hotel ,and checking in with the Steel Challenge folks, we headed out to the range to see if the gun still runs after Alaska Airlines and TSA had had their way with it. Unfortunately we got there a little late, and the practice range was closed. Fortunately it would be open in the morning early, before the match started. We headed back to the hotel to get some rest, get the gear organized, and get a good night's sleep as I would be shooting the first stage of the match at 8:30am.

-- End of Part One --

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