Oct 11, 2007

Back in DC... again. -sigh-

I’m sitting on Continental flight 223 from Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) en route to Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI). I booked a flight from Austin (AUS) through Cleveland (CLE) into BWI that left Austin just before noon arriving BWI near 6pm knowing that Holly was going to have to drop me off on her way to school around 8am. This morning, she dropped me off as scheduled and I went right to the ticket counter to see if I could catch an earlier flight. Sure enough, they were able to confirm me on a flight leaving at 9:20am, connecting in Houston and getting into BWI a little after 3pm. There was a catch though… the plane was scheduled to arrive in Houston at 10:15 and the flight to BWI was departing at 10:52. Not such a big deal except for the fact that the arriving and departing gates were on two entirely different ends of the airport. See for yourself: Arrive E19, Depart C25.

In addition, Roger needs to eat, so I had to find food along the way. The plane landed on time but we were delayed getting to our gate and I didn’t deplane until 10:25. We were told that there would be a “uniformed attendant” at the end of the jet way to answer any questions and help us out the best they could. There were two guys next to me that were in the same predicament and several others from what I saw. I got off the plane and guess what? No “attendant.” I looked at my watch, figured I could get across the airport, tightened my backpack over my shoulders and took off.

I remembered from going through IAH last week that they had lots of moving walkways. I would have to take advantage of those… I walked and walked and walked… my right leg was starting to be uncooperative at a fast pace, so I pretty much limped the whole way. My knee was locking and I was starting to sweat, but I was committed now. I wondered where the others were, but there was no time to stop and look. I found the end of the ‘E’ concourse and came to a big intersection. I slowed down and looked for a place that sold premade wrapped sandwiches, but there were none in sight. I was wasting time! I limped on through the ‘C’ terminal that seemed to go on forever and kept my eyes open for food. I saw a sign that pointed me in the direction of my gate. This area looked familiar from last week. I knew there was a USO nearby, but I didn’t remember seeing anything but junk food there, so I kept walking. I finally found the area where the C20-ish gates were. I saw C23, mine was C25, so I was close.

I looked at my watch and it was 10:35. I had made good time! I saw an area that sold food and wanted to get a Subway sandwich, but the line was too long. Right next to it was a Popeye’s. I saw that they had chicken already to go and all they had to do was box and bag it. I bought some and made my way to where I saw C23. Looking up the concourse, I saw the gate numbers getting smaller. I saw a lady on an electric cart and asked her where C25 was. She told me up ahead on the right, so I walked past her. Then I heard her say something to me… she asked me what gate I was going to again. Again, I told her C25. Then she told me to go the other way and turn right. Basically, when she told me it was ahead on the right, she meant from her perspective! How was I to know that? I had passed my gate! I must have missed the sign when I saw food… I looked at my watch and it was 10:47.

I looked down the concourse and the gates were numbered backward… C25 was near the end! I put it into high gear and I knew I was breaking a sweat now. I got to the end of the gate and one of the agents yelled to me, “Baltimore?!” I held up my boarding pass and yelled back, “Yes!” I got there and she scanned my boarding pass and then mentioned something about ‘that’s why he’s late… he got fried chicken.’ I felt like saying, lady, if you only knew. I walked down the jet way alone and onto the plane. I found my seat and there was an older Hispanic lady sitting there. She was hesitant to give up her seat, until the attendant intervened. She moved over, I stowed my backpack and took my seat as I felt the plane begin to move backward. In a sweat, I looked at my watch and it read 10:52. I made it!

A quick postscript now that I’m back in my room. I was surprised that my suitcase and the baggage of all the others made it to BWI on time. Kudos to Continental for getting it right. And I’m glad I bought lunch… the so called lunch on the plane was a horribly dry turkey sandwich about the size of a small lemon. I tore into that fried chicken much to the dismay of my fellow passengers. I brought warmer clothes back with me to DC and I’m glad I did. I walked to grab dinner and the wind was pretty chilly. Fall has arrived in DC.

My visit home with Holly was too short, as usual. I don’t feel like we planned a whole lot but we stayed busy. We slept in too late most mornings and stayed up late. This was bad for her since she needed to study and still attend classes. Then I caught a cold and was sick for the last few days. It’s probably a good thing I’m here and she’s there – I would distract her way too much.

I’ve got some great pics of the new baby and family that I will post soon.
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