Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Early Morning Ramblings and I mean ramblings!

Being a night owl in general, my 3:45 am wake up call seemed unnaturally early. Thank goodness I decided against trying to drive down this morning or that would have been even two hours earlier! However, because one never knows what a Minnesota winter morning may bring, I thought it best just to get down here and have less of a distance to go. Good call.

This also gave me the opportunity to have a great meal with some good friends in Bloomington. They introduced me to a wonderful Italian place called Ciao Bella. Thanks to Ezra and David our dining experience was topped with complimentary desserts. At the end of the evening we were gleefully “drunk from good food”. The satisfying meal, loads of laughter and time with friends created the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.

Ok, “good” is relative here. “Short” would probably be more accurate. By the time I checked back into my classes and answered more email the hours were dwindling. Being that the flight was so early I opted for setting the alarm and getting a wake-up call. And before I knew it, they were both going off.

A pleasant shuttle ride over to HHH, now known as “Terminal 2” reminded me that for some people, 3:45 wasn’t so bad. My friendly shuttle driver started his shift at 1:30 am. Wow.

Check in at the airport went relatively smoothly. Not very long lines and I upgraded to a window seat. However, I was once again reminded just how early it was when my much anticipated coffee and oatmeal from Carribou was thwarted by the fact the coffee shop wasn’t even open yet! Bou you let me down!

Traveling in a digital age coupled with the fact that I’m still conducting my classes while in DC I am forced to carry much of my “office” with me. All the electronics with their cords, and my various batteries and chargers confused the extra machine. But after a quick search I was cleared and allowed to head to my gate filled with the sounds of a screaming toddler that I hoped I wouldn’t be sitting near on the plane. (Come on, I know you've been there with this thought!)

Airport terminals are their own little world and have their own rules and regulations, although sometimes I think it’s a matter of who’s working and what kind of mood they’re in. This particular morning, they were following all the rules. I watched as two desk associates commandeered a carry-on marked Fragile from one of the awaiting passengers. They claimed that it was not regulation size and would have to be checked. Although the item seemed perhaps an inch or two longer than their little white plastic bin of shame, it certainly made up for it in width. My first thought was that perhaps the carrier held an expensive ukulele, but then perhaps I’m biased. A more educated guess I suppose would be that the case held an expensive violin.

Not to appear to have singled her out, they then proceeded to take a bag from a second passenger, the mother of the screaming boy. Let’s just say be the end of the measuring, the begging, the explaining, the pleading, the removal of the bag, and what appeared to be the charging of the now “checked bag”, there was someone else crying. I looked at my carry-on and hoped I wouldn’t be victim number 3. But alas boarding calls were made and I was allowed, with my luggage to board the plane.

Normally I try to take direct flights when at all possible, but I ended up booking a package deal and that deal included a stop in Lansing Michigan. I have to say, I might start considering more 1-stop flights as long as I don’t have to change planes. There were so many extra seats on this first leg that I had the enter row to myself. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the option of laying across three seats. I’m sure it was decades ago…you know, in the “good ol’ days” when flights didn’t fly at capacity. Of course that was also the time when there was no such thing as a non-smoking flight, just a non-smoking section, that any nonsmoker who ever flew would tell you was still smoke-filled.

The pilot announced that our plane had reached its cruising altitude, which meant I was free to take advantage of the spare seats. So there I was, stretched out across the row preparing to take a snooze to help make up for the lack of sleep I’d been running on the past two nights (well I don’t know if you can count it a full night when you have to get up at 3:45 am) when another announcement fills the air. Flight attendants would be coming around with their regular beverage fare and complimentary breakfast sandwiches would be available.

What???? Complimentary sandwiches? Talk about the old days, food hasn’t been complimentary since I was in high school! Now here’s where my new quandary became fueled. I was thinking I’d forgo the coffee in lieu of sleep, but now they had to throw in the word “Free”. I have a strange addiction to things that are free. I mean, after all, they are free! Here’s how bad it is, I don’t even eat breakfast, in fact, I kind of dislike breakfast, yet here I was, now willing to forgo sleep (which I love) all because some little breakfast sandwich was available, to me, for free! It’s a sickness I know.

Had I known they were going to offer the free breakfast sandwich on the second leg too, and not just to this space-privileged first leggers, I’m sure I would have opted for sleep. But my muddled morning mind (“MMM” for short) didn’t even think of asking that question when they came around with their little bundle of smelly freeness this morning.

Most of the seats were filled after our stop in Lansing and again, the whole trip went very fast. In fact, by the time we reached our cruising destination and I got out my laptop, had a cup of coffee and starting adding blog notes, we were descending again. I actually finished this about 7 hours later than I thought. And there concludes my early morning ramblings from Day 1 of my great DC adventure!

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