Surreal Moment in the Capital

Post a Comment » Written on March 9th, 2013     
Filed under: home assignment
I was in Washington D.C. today for the first time since a childhood visit back in the seventies. But it wasn’t remotely like the typical D.C. tour. It was actually just a stop over at the Dulles airport. Airlines have a way of redefining the concept of “straight lines”. Who would have thought the best way to transport a passenger from Colorado Springs to Cleveland would include a stop in D.C.? But that was the course United Airlines chose for me.

The alarm woke me at 3:25AM. A quick shower, short drive to the airport and I was there by 4:25AM, ready to encounter the tedious side of sequestration. I guess word of the cuts in TSA staff hasn’t made it to our fair city at the foot of Pikes Peak but whose complaining? I zipped thru security with the obligatory shedding of my shoes and emptying of my pockets and was at the gate with loads of time to spare. News of the predicted snow storm apparently didn’t reach our city either so everything was clicking along in a timely fashion. But alas, trying to load 82 passengers into an 80 passenger regional (i.e. designed for people 5′ 8″ and shorter)  jet does present some tricks and by the time we got our wings de-iced we were about 30 minutes behind schedule. Normally that wouldn’t present a problem, but my layover in D.C. was only 45 minutes. Oh oh!

As we approached Dulles I scanned the skyline for familiar landmarks of the capital but saw nothing of the sort. Oh well; I guess the life size cutout of Mr. Obama welcoming us to terminal C was enough. Except that boarding for my next flight was beginning right about the time we touched down! No worries. I’ve been on enough of these flights to know that regional  (i.e. designed for people 5’8″ and shorter) jets are usually clustered at the far end of terminal Q or whatever so my transfer would probably involve just a few quick steps to the next gate. I hurriedly deplaned and asked the first agent I saw for a gate number for my next flight. I struggled to decipher the thick accent but definitely thought I heard “gate A… something”. “Terminal A??” “Yes sir, A… something”. Oh man! Time to start running. I began my trot, following signs for terminal A, but when you’re at the far end of the terminal it can make for a fairly substantial trot. I nodded to the life sized cutout but didn’t detect any response so I just kept my eyes fixed on the signs pointing to terminal A.

This is where it started to get weird. I saw something about a shuttle to terminal A and followed the signs thru a doorway and found myself in a vehicle unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Sort of like an over sized bus that pulls right up to the terminal gate like an airplane. Soon it started to move, pulling away from the gate and winding its way between airplanes, fuel trucks and luggage carts. Gazing out the window I saw more of these shuttles doing the same thing and couldn’t help but recall scenes of transporter pods from movies like Avatar or Matrix. Definitely the most unique vehicle I’ve ever ridden. In a few short minutes we arrived at another building and exited the transporter pod only a few gates from my destination. I got to the gate just as boarding was finishing up. Wouldn’t you know it! Another regional  (i.e. designed for people 5’8″ and shorter) jet. As I walked across the tarmac I noticed that it was a lot warmer than Colorado Springs. (Where am I now…?)

As we took off I once again scanned the horizon for any familiar sights of the nation’s capital but saw not so much as a hint. And we were airborne. Bye bye Washington D.C.! Several hours later I am comfortably settled on the shores of Lake Erie in Ashtabula, Ohio, getting ready for tomorrow’s sermon. But seriously! Where was I today?

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