Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — DC Edition

The first inkling that this weekend was not going to go entirely to plan came on Tuesday. American Airlines pushed an update to my phone that evening saying ‘well…er…we think there’s going to be bad weather on Friday evening. Fancy rebooking?’ Like a fool, I ignored it, thinking that it’d all work out, and besides, if I was a little late, it’d be fine. Totally fine.

By the time I got to the airport on Friday (after sending off all evidence that I’m a US citizen in order to get a passport), the flight had already been delayed until 20:30. But the plane was in the air, so I’d still get to DC around 22:00. Not great, but not the end of the world.

We started boarding around 21:00. We got to the runway at 21:30. number one for take-off. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t be meeting Richard tonight, but I’d get to my hotel no problem.

At which point, obviously, the plane developed a mechanical fault and returned to the gate. Mind you, it’s better to develop a faulty engine on the runway than having one 6,000 metres up. Anyhow, back to the airport we went, and a sinking feeling descended. Especially as the people in front of me in the rebooking line were getting more and more irate about being offered flights for tomorrow evening. As Richard would be flying home on Sunday, it wasn’t really good for me either.

The day was saved by a combination of a ticket agent happy to have somebody not gearing up for a fight, and Tammy, offering a helpful suggestion - there was a Megabus service that would leave Durham tonight and arrive in DC in the morning. Hurrah!

Just one tiny little catch: the bus would leave at 03:30.

Having confirmed with the ticket agent that they’d hold my return flight open for me if I didn’t rebook my outgoing flight, I headed home, had a shower, drank multiple cups of tea, and started working out how exactly I was going to get to the centre of Durham at 3am. I didn’t really come up with a good solution aside from maybe there will still be some Lyft cars about at 3am?1. Thankfully, the downtown bar scene still has stragglers at that point on a Friday, and so there I was, taking pictures of the Mutual Life building at 3am and hopping on a double-decker bus to DC. By hook or by crook, I was going to get there.

We’ll pause now to list some of history’s greatest monsters:

Ahem. Anyway, I did get some sleep, and even arrived in DC 15 minutes than scheduled. A full day of tourism approached!

It’s easy to forget how big the Mall really is, and how impressive the monuments and the planning of central DC comes together. We spent twelve miles in the quest of rediscovering that. But it was fun to play tourist and show a friend around. I did have some impressive bad luck on that front - ending up at a Mexican chain restaurant for lunch after walking to a series of either closed or non-seating places.

I made a better choice for dinner (my first Ethiopian in a few years), but my choice of going to the nearest whiskey bar to save on walking turned out to have two slight issues: 1) its whiskey selection was not exactly stellar, and 2) the research I had done online neglected to mention that it was a gay bar. Which is fine…but I don’t think either of us expected to be chatted up in the evening, or to have somewhat risqué conversations about Bicester Village.

After finishing our drinks there, we wandered and wandered, eventually ending up here (look, it’s a local chain, okay?) for the rest of the evening.

The trip back was much easier. The plane worked, I landed at RDU, and I’m now laid up looking at developing blisters. I don’t have to go outside again until Friday…by then they should be going down some…until then, ibuprofen it is!

  1. I have had terrible luck with scheduling taxi services in Durham at early times, so I ruled them out early on. [return]
  2. Another instance of this - somebody in Target last week walking past the show section with heavy metal blaring from his leg. I mean, standards. [return]