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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Wind Blew, the Snow Flew, and Home We Came

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Wind Blew, the Snow Flew, and Home We Came

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We returned home from England last night in an experience that I'm not eager to repeat anytime soon: We flew home in the middle of a snowstorm! The East Coast has been hit with quite a whallop of a snowstorm, and while we didn't get hit nearly as hard as people did further north, we did end up with a few inches, and it was in full swing when the plane came down.

It was very weird. We were descending through seemingly endless clouds; it was so thick that we could barely see the light on the wing. Then ... the clouds broke and we were over the runway, with the lights from the airport coming up out of the dark. About ten seconds later, we plunked onto the ground. The runway was completely snow-covered, which was rather ... disturbing. I always assumed they cleared the snow before allowing planes to land.

The flight was pretty good, although there was understandably some turbulence. Right in the middle of the tea/coffee service, the plane started jostling up and down enough that my still-very-hot cup of tea started sloshing all over, which was not good.

My inlaws came to pick us up from the airport. We had originally purchased tickets to return on New Year's Day to Baltimore-Washington International, which is the nearest airport to us; a day after we bought our tickets, that flight was cancelled and we were rebooked on a next-day flight to *cue ominous music* Dulles International Airport. Washington, DC, has three local airports. Travel tip from a local: If at all possible, fly into BWI or Reagan. Dulles sucks. It's like it exists in a self-contained pocket of gray existential sadness. It looks like a warehouse, everyone who works there is pissy or miserable or both, and as a result, it is ridiculously inefficient. The nicest people we dealt with were the Border Patrol agents and the British Airways representative. Even the Christmas decorations looked sad as shit.

My sister--who has also had negative experiences at Dulles--told me that you start out in a moving room to get from terminal to terminal. I was like o.O, but she was right: The shuttles are not buses in the usual sense; they are large boxes--yes, as big as a midsized room--and if you thought something that large would be more stabilized and offer a smoother, more comfortable ride, then you would be wrong, because you are at Dulles, and nothing is smooth or comfortable there. After being herded into one of these boxes by an unsmiling and irritable Dulles employee, we were shuttled across the snow-covered tarmac while the driver blared the horn all the while (because, apparently, the people who drive the little luggage trains and such wouldn't otherwise see the giant, rolling box careening towards them) and I clung to a pole inside for dear life. At the baggage claim, when half of the luggage was unloaded, the conveyor belts suddenly stopped and apparently there was no one downstairs to fix them, so the employee who was exuberantly slamming suitcases from laying flat to laying on their sides crawled down the conveyor belt, was missing for a few minutes, and then crawled back up. Of course, no one was told what was happening, so a bunch of us who hadn't received all of our luggage came to the conclusion that it was lost and reported to the BA desk, at which point we were given the comforting news that, no, our luggage made it just fine, it was just that no one could find the people who were supposed to be in the baggage loading area to do things like fix the conveyor belt, so the people who had been hired to slam luggage from one position to another had to do it instead.

When we finally left the airport, it was snowing something fierce. Driving on the Capitol Beltway is harrowing under the best of conditions--a recent study by Allstate insurance found that DC drivers get into accidents at roughly twice the rate of the national average--and was super-fun in heavy snow. By now it was about 10ish--our flight having arrived at 8:15--and my brain was telling me that it was 3 AM. It is about an hour's drive from Dulles to my inlaws' house, but it took quite a bit longer. The roads were in awful shape, even the major highways. It was about midnight by the time we arrived at my inlaws' house, and Bobby and I decided that a middle-of-the-night journey an hour further northward through the dark, unplowed country roads of Carroll County was not a wise course of action, so we spent the night at my inlaws' and drove home early this morning.

Despite not getting into bed until after midnight, we were both wide awake by 6 AM--oh, the wonders of traveling east to west! Getting up early is briefly and blissfully easy! We were both due to go back to work, but by 6 AM, the good news was already posted: Schools were closed for the day! We both very much needed the extra day off. Bobby said tonight that he didn't know how we'd lucked out so well. The best he could think of is that we got on Jesus's good side for visiting so many cathedrals and old churches in England and France.

By the time we drove home to Manchester this morning, the highways were clear but the side roads were touch-and-go. The streets in our neighborhood had been plowed but not salted; in fact, our street still looks pretty crappy and is mostly still snow-covered. We only got about 4 inches/10 cm out of this storm, so I'm not sure why it was so hard to clear when I've seen twice that amount cleared out by early afternoon.

We are expected to have the lowest temperatures we've had since 1994 (which I remember well, since I was in seventh grade and the school where I went made us stand outside for 20 minutes every morning before letting us in, and I remember my bones just aching relentlessly that year). Right now, it is 10F/-12C outside; we have a fire roaring in the woodstove, but my hands are freezing and feel like they've been all day. We're also expected to get more snow in the week to come.

I have pictures and travelogues to post from our excursions around England, and I hope to get those posted this weekend.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Wow, glad you got home safe, even in the snowstorm! I haven't left my house for the past two days. :p

    Dulles sucks. It's like it exists in a self-contained pocket of gray existential sadness.

    I think that might be the most accurate description of Washington Dulles that I've ever read.
  • That sounds utterly exhausting, although your description of the situation was hilarious (especially the giant boxes and the suitcase-slammer-turned-conveyor-belt-repairer). Glad you made it home safe and got a well-deserved snow day.
  • Oh I'm glad you got home safely, if not entirely without bother. :D We have the woodstove on too, even though we are having an unseasonably mild winter so far - I wish for lots and lots of frosty cold days so that spring will not be completely taken over by bugs! ;)
  • I'm glad you made it home safely!
  • This entry, with the sad Christmas decorations and crawling employees, made me LOL but only because I knew you were home safe.

    BTW, I Googled and the "moving room" is a "mobile lounge" thank you very much. Were you not served cocktails and given a lap dance during your journey from terminal to terminal? ;)

    Here's a visual for those lucky enough not to travel to Dulles. It's basically a double-wide subway car on dune buggy tires:

    Edited at 2014-01-04 08:07 pm (UTC)
  • What a strange contraption! We have our own pocket of sadness airport wise and with a miserable air conditioning system to top it. And extortionate prices for anything. And vending machines that never work. Sorry! I let my Argentine angst take over :( . So glad you could make it back home safely in spite of the awful weather. -12? (*freezes*) but one extra day to recover was great!
  • Well, I rather have a loooong walk at the airport than instead of that moving room. I remember when I flew to Philadelphia International Airport I had to walk miles before I got to my connecting gate to fly to New England.
    Amsterdam Schiphol is also a lot of walking, but we have transport busses if you a shuttle to get to your plane (like I had when I flew to Copenhagen recently).

    But what a welcome home for Bobby huh? :D I hope you spent a lot of time near the woodstove with the Goldens at your feet and Freya on your lap :)
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