5 07 2010

How could it not have been a great weekend?  I got off work at 1, and after putting all thoughts of the accumulated tasks I’d get to face on Tuesday out of my mind, Juel dropped me off at LAX and I was free to go.  Flying is something I do enjoy, even in coach – “economy” to United.  It started well, as the flight attendant asked me almost as soon as I had sat down if I would mind switching seats with a passenger in the forward “economy plus” section of the cabin who had a fear of flying.  I got to move up and gain a few inches of legroom simply because this man preferred the rear “safer” portion of the plane.  Hey, the way I see it, we’re crashing into the ground from the sky regardless in a worst-case scenario, so I’ll take the extra legroom on the way down regardless.

The lady next to me on that flight had experienced a couple of delays and missed flights getting out of Palm Springs (where a certain couple is enjoying their honeymoon), so we struck up a good conversation about the perils of traveling for work and the lame in-flight movie (How to Train your Dragon) before getting our food and drinks (not free, of course) and catching some sleep.  I got into Dulles around 12:30 local time, and while it should have been 9:30 to me (having lost three hours on the flight), flights always wipe me out, sleep or no.  John picked me up (after sneaking up on me in the baggage-claim area just to prove that he could have been a ninja if he had really wanted to) and we made the trek back to his place and collapsed in the apartment, awaiting the unbounded enjoyment of a holiday weekend.

Here are a few bullet points I want to expand upon when I’m not exhausted:

I caught four fish (in an admittedly stocked pond)

Experiencing the National Mall on July 4th

Trying to leave the National Mall on the evening of July 4th

-Waiting in line for the Metro

-Traveling on the Metro

-Realizing that we might have been better off walking the thirty miles from Dumfries, VA to D.C.

Timelessness of real friendships

Good and Ugly parts of American attitudes (see “waiting in line for the Metro”)

I’m already nodding off, probably because I got two segments of fitful three-hour sleep today, and a bit of jet lag is messing with my mind.

The fireworks were incredible, though.

Traveling in Style

28 06 2010

So I’m going to D.C. this weekend.  It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be incredibly muggy (I’m sure), and it’s going to be awesome to see a buddy I haven’t for a while.

As with all trips, however, the main question isn’t about what to do once I’m there.  We grew up together, and we’ve never really had a problem finding things to do, whether it was riding our bikes into the bay muck (ill-advised) or having full-blown Nerf wars (still advised) in the gas chamber.  So to speak.

No, the question is about getting there.  What do I do, what do I wear, and how do I become one of those people that you want to sit next to on an airplane?  Personally, I love flying.  Give me a good book and some headphones, and I’ll sit in a coach aisle seat for hours on end without complaining.  Keeping myself happy is not an issue, but traveling should be (on some level, at least) a communal experience.  Swapping entertaining stories with a seat buddy can be a great way to spend a trip, especially if they are one of those people you want to sit next to on an airplane.

Since I can’t really control whom I sit next to, I’ll have to settle for controlling my atmosphere.  I believe in dressing well for shared transit (no one wants to sit next to the hairy old guy in the tank top) and airplanes most of all.  Not only do you feel important (and increase your chances of being given free pilot’s wings by the stewarde– excuse me, flight attendant — but you also get quizzical looks from your fellow passengers as they wonder where that ever so dapper young man could be traveling.  France?   French Guiana?  The Franco-Prussian War museum?

Above all, however, one simply must have something that will make you stand out.  Why is this?  Simple:  You want people to remember you in case you tackle an underpants bomber.  Usually this isn’t a problem, but nowadays, one can’t be careful.  Who’s to say that you won’t emerge from the pile of bomber, flammable underwear and heroism only to find yourself shoved aside as some obnoxious guy in a San Francisco Giants Hawaiian shirt takes the credit for your deeds?  No sir, you have to make sure people will instantly recognize you, standing off to the side, dazed and confused, so they can look into the news camera and proudly say:

“Yeah, I saw him stop the guy.  He was wearing a huge blue cowboy hat and a Ronald Reagan tank top.”