Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 1
Friday, January 16, 2009
Back in November, I was elated to see that Barack Obama had been elected to be the next President of the United States. My friend Liz has family in the DC area, and she invited me to stay with her and her family if I wanted to be in DC for the Inauguration. Since I had already scheduled a vacation for the week, I jumped at the chance to go, and did so just before the airline fares skyrocketed.
My days after that were filled not only with shopping for Christmas gifts, but also with shopping for the big trip. After all, I'm a So Cal Girl: my idea of cold is 65 degrees. The weather in DC in January is typically in the 30's and 40's. So I had to get serious and get some cold-weather gear. I ended up getting a couple of coats, a couple of new sets of gloves, a hat, and, of course, SHOES. Nice Eddie Bauer cozy moccassin shoes, as well as some Sorel boots, complete with Thinsulate.
The problem with cold weather is that you need multiple layers of clothing, which I'm not used to packing, but I somehow managed. I got all of my stuff together, checked my packing list multiple times, and checked the DC weather forecast every day. Yup, COLD. I was thankful, though, that there was no threat of rain or snow by the time I was leaving L.A. Yeah, there was the odd Canada Geese-Getting-Into-Turbines thing to worry about, but I just hoped that I would have a safe trip to DC, along with the millions of other people that would be in attendance to see the first Black President be inaugurated into the highest position in the world.
The first leg of my flight was from Burbank to Las Vegas. The economy has clearly hit the airline industry, as on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, the airport seemed quite sparse. My flight wasn't completely full, but I figured that people just weren't going to Vegas these days. The Vegas airport was more crowded, though, and the leg to Dulles was completely full.
Here is my advice to people that do not travel as often as I do on Southwest Airlines: if the overhead bins are closed, that usually means that they are full. Please keep walking until you find a bin that will fit your luggage, and then sit down right away so that we can get all of the other people on board. Do NOT keep going back and forth to your carryon bags, looking for a better spot. We left 20 minutes late because of one woman holding up the line at row 3, and then other people still kept opening up the closed bins, even though they weren't going to sit in the seats near those closed bins. Keep walking, people. It is now YOUR fault that our flight is not leaving on time. The pilot has been here, the flight attendants have been here, and the other passengers have been here ON TIME. AUGH! BTW, after pretty much everyone had sat down, one of the attendants opened up one of the closed bins, rearranged two things, and was able to insert another bag. All in a matter of 15 seconds. People, leave it to the professionals, please.
I whispered to the lady in my row sitting at the window seat about the Bin Drama, and we laughed at the inexperienced travelers. We finally had to give up the seat in the middle of us to a man who said while he pointed at the other woman in my row, "Excuse me, but she took my ticket." I told him that he was only allowed to sit in our row because he was funny. We did have a fun trip. Most of the people on the plane were going to attend the inaugural, and I overheard one guy (flying to Dulles on business) say that it was like being on a school bus and he was just along for the ride.
When I arrived at Dulles, Liz had already been there for an hour or two, and she and her nephew James greeted me in baggage claim, then I met her sister, Margaret (Marg). Margaret was kind enough to allow me to stay at her place for most of the trip, and she and Liz did most of the planning, since Marg works in DC and Liz is in the area a lot because her parents live in VA. When we walked outside, James looked up and saw that no planes were flying overhead, and asked where they were. I said, "Oh, they went to sleep." He looked at me with a look of "I don't think that's true, but I don't know you well enough yet to know if you're just kidding, so I'll just stare at you right now." Liz later confirmed that we wouldn't see any planes because they were sleeping, so we're thinking that maybe he believed us. Margaret later said that after we leave, he'll be talking to his friends at day care about the planes being asleep.
Marg lives in Maryland, the Land of Backwards Driving. She took us to her house as James entertained us by handing over unwanted pretzel sticks and making up some story about a bear going into the house. James' favorite color is pink, and I think he likes me because I was wearing that color when I met him. He finally fell asleep when his mom suggested that his broken fingernail might hurt less if he went to sleep. Then he was OUT for the rest of the ride, and was carried up to bed.
We stayed up for quite awhile, talking about some of our plans for the upcoming week. I went to bed at about 4:00 a.m. EST, and the sisters were still up and talking.
It's cold here in Maryland: it was 12 degrees when we landed at Dulles. Yet the Ground Crew guy at Dulles was wearing shorts. People are bananas here! Hmmmm....Bananas....