It took me a bit longer than expected to arrive home after my semester in Washington, D.C. Mom came out for my final week to do some holiday sightseeing. We ended our week with a show at the Kennedy Center (preceded by a delicious dinner at the District Chophouse and Brewery). The performer last night was four-time Grammy winner Dianne Reeves (not to be confused with NPR’s Diane Rehm). Reeves gave a great, jazzy performance – even adding in a bit of impromptu vocalizations about the storm brewing outside. Indeed, when we left the Kennedy Center, the flakes had already begun to fall.
However, our flight was supposed to leave the next morning, but a record snowstorm was on its way to the East Coast. All three nearby airports (Baltimore, Reagan National and Dulles International) shut down Saturday and most of Sunday.
Friday night, a text message from my sister informed me that our flight out of Dulles International Airport had been cancelled. Yesterday morning, my mom and I trekked down the street to a local market (where soup costs 2 dollars a can…) to grab some essentials. Of course, we weren’t alone; the checkout line was stacked 25 people deep raiding the shelves for milk and bread.
DC clearly does not know how to handle snow. Mayor Fenty has declared a state of emergency and even the metro bus and rail systems have shut down. The roads are deserted.
Saturday night, I was concerned about having a flight but having no way to get to the flight. Here’s how Sunday panned out:
4:30 AM – I put a request out on Twitter: ” Flight rescheduled for the third time (Sunday 1 PM) but there are NO shuttles to get us to Dulles. Any suggestions?”
5:30 AM – Colleague Jonathan Coffman (social media guy for PBS) responded via Twitter: “So far this morning, my 11:30am flight is still saying “on-time” I’m driving out to Dulles around 7:30. helpful?”
5:45 AM – Jonathan and I arranged for him to pick up my mom and me (and our 4 suitcases) outside my apartment around 7:30.
7:30 AM – Mom and I dragged our four large suitcases through the snow and into Jonathan’s Jeep.
8:15 AM – Arrived at Dulles International Airport.
8:30 AM – Checked in luggage with Barney, the luggage attendant who let us check our bags early.
8:40 – 9:00 AM – Waded through security and massive crowds.
9 AM – 12 PM – Wandered around terminal B in a zombie-like stupor. I felt like I was “David After Dentist” ( see viral YouTube video). I didn’t know which end was up. After all, I was running on one hour of sleep. (Mom was running on zero)
12 PM – 12:45 attempted to find out flight, but none of the departure screens listed the flight. (We later found out it was because this was an extra flight added for everyone who was dropped the day before)
12:45 – 1:00 Waited – patiently – at Gate D1.
1:00 – Flight attendants informed us that a snow bank would prevent the plane from arriving at the gate.
1:05 – We were told to go to Gate C5 (the complete opposite end of the building)
1:10 – Arrived at Gate C5 only to be told to go back to Gate D1. (Major calisthenics by this point)
1:20 – Flight attendants informed us that we could not board until a fifth member of the flight crew arrived (he was en route)
1:30 – This was the original boarding time. To our dismay, we were still waiting for that crew member to arrive…
1:40 – Passengers began boarding. The passengers applauded when crew member No. 5 showed up.
2:00 – Still waiting on the runway….
2:15 – The plane was finally up in the air; my ears were popping.
3:45 – Mom and I arrived in Chicago, greeted by Dad and Kelly
4:00 – We headed to baggage claim 12 at O’Hare International Airport.
4:45 – The luggage was nowhere to be found. We filed a claim so the luggage could be shipped to our house
5:30 – Home, sweet home.