Christmastime wandering

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Feb 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA1152 BOS EWR 1455 1634 738 2F

    + PreCheck took one minute counting ID check (silence rather
    than the 3 beeps from the machine)

    - surly girl at the President's Club

    - no bartender at the club

    + wired and wireless Internet at the club. The former was
    very fast.

    - checkin was a zoo, with nearly half the plane - I would
    guess 40 pax - getting on with zone 1.

    The flight was fine - we went pretty due west until the
    Hudson and then followed the river. I could have done it,
    and I'm legally blind. On boarding, the FA asked for my
    drink order. I asked for a Courvoisier and got it. Turned
    out this was the PDB service, something that might have
    happened to me in the distant past but when? After takeoff
    another drink order. Courvoisier. Pretzels (I declined).
    We landed a little late after having been told we would be a
    little early. Something about there not being ground staff
    to get us to the gate.

    Not a big problem as we came in at C105 and my departure was
    from C108.

    UA 291 EWR LAX 1710 2015 763 6A Ch9:td: Empower^

    Despite having used an expiring GPU, I couldn't get a seat
    on this flight; turned out that owing to yet another glitch
    nobody could figure out whether this flight was being
    operated by a 757 or a 767. The gate agent (much less surly
    than the normal EWR agent) eventually asked the pilot what
    kind of plane was going, got things straightened out, and
    gave me a seat.

    Crew was okay. Overhead space was not.

    My seatmate, who had apparently given up a lot of miles for
    this flight, pitched a fit because, let's see, his seat
    didn't work as advertised, he didn't get his choice of meal
    as advertised, the overhead didn't fit his or my carryon,
    and what else. Something else. One of the FAs who served our
    cabin snarled that he should write to Jeff, at which I
    laughed. He softened a little and said, you must have to
    write a lot.

    Courvoisier to start.

    Choice: grilled shrimp over salad or the famous Continental
    cheeseburger. Tortilla soup and fruit appetizer to start.
    The cheeseburger has not improved over the years. It is C-
    for those for whom In-n-Out is the ne plus ultra. My
    seatmate had been looking forward to grilled shrimp over
    salad. He had to endure the cheeseburger, of which, as I
    did, he ate some. Turns out there may not have been any
    shrimp salads loaded; I'm not sure.

    No dessert. They offered chocolate-chip cookies up front but
    stopped around row 4. We obviously had been catered for a
    smaller plane.

    At the end of the flight it was announced that we should
    all complain to UA about the catering.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA6453 LAX PHX 2240 0058 CR7 2C

    Quick trip to the club, sign the sheet, and then back to
    Terminal 8 for the hour flight to Phoenix. lili joined me
    on this flight - she was in 1C, the throne, but gave that
    up to sit next to me so we could plan our week.

    A perfectly fine flight; I didn't test the catering.

    We had rented a car - the area's public trans is, shall we
    say, dubious; there was a surprising amount of activity at
    the rental car center (a shuttle away from the terminal),
    and the staff were surprisingly cheerful and not in a
    pharmaceutically enhanced sense I think, and we were out of
    there before 2.

    Though I had reserved a room with two beds far from the
    elevator at the Sheraton PHX Tempe, I got a room with one
    bed catty-corner from the elevator. You can't win them all.
    It was too late to complain, so after a most welcome shower
    I plopped myself in a comfy chair in the corner and got a
    reasonable sleep. You don't fuss much at half-past two.

    As I had needed the hotel stay to requalify for gold, the
    reservation was in my name, not hers, which meant no free
    breakfast (her exalted diamondness gets her breakfast).
    We wanted to be out of there pretty early anyway.

    Taliesin is in North Scottsdale, which by Phoenix standards
    is not so far away, but it is in fact half an hour up the
    road. We headed up there just behind rush hour for the tour
    at 10; as we parked we noticed a woman frantically looking
    about among the cars - she had lost her car keys. We helped
    as best we could and then hurried to the gift shop to see
    if we could get tickets. There were two places left on the
    tour that had just left; our choice was to hang around for
    an hour; we hustled up and caught up with the tour as it
    left its first stop. The docent was knowledgeable and
    energetic, and we were pleased to learn and see stuff that
    we would otherwise not have done. The 90-minute tour ran a
    bit overtime; it's a fascinating place. The cost is high -
    $32 (building strong architects 12 ways) - but we got a
    substantial discount.

    As I had bagged that last Starwood stay and as my budget for
    this trip was not high, I booked next into the Hospitality
    Suites on Scottsdale Rd, a venue that I'd used before and
    enjoyed for what it was - a cheap but friendly motel without
    pretensions and with a free happy hour every evening. We got
    a semi-lovely two-room accommodation with an equipped but
    not well equipped and full but not really full kitchen. Use
    of tennis courts, pool, and grill. Breakfast (not good). And
    as I said, free happy hour. The consequence of lowish prices
    and expectations well met: happy customers. The consequence
    of happy customers: happy staffy, especially the bartender,
    who at a buck a drink tip probably rakes in a couple hundred
    on a bad day, which I hope he shares. After three days maybe
    this wears thin, but I've not tried yet.

    Canyon and Saguaro Lakes - I think the former is a better
    destination, as the rock formations on the way to it from
    either direction are spectacular, as befits the name; the
    other, well, it's sort of cactile, the good parts being a
    bit farther from the road I am told (both were frequent
    sources of the wonderful wilderness shots that you used
    to find in the Arizona Highways magazine). The road from
    Apache Junction to Canyon Lake is a photo opp a minute;
    beyond it gets even better, but the road becomes pitted
    dirt, perhaps only four-wheel-driveable - I seem to recall
    having witnessed it cowering in the back seat of a Sebring
    piloted by a drunk guy in a hurry; luckily most of that
    recollection left with my gonads and my lunch many years ago.
    This time we went a discreet distance past the pavement and
    then turned back. This was also the day we might have gone
    ORVing with my friend Carl, but lili didn't seem too
    enthusiastic, so after lunch at Tortilla Flat we returned to
    town via Saguaro Lake, which was fine, but as I said I like
    Canyon Lake better.
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Paolo Soleri is perhaps the second most famous architect
    associated with the valley of the sun. lili asked the
    logical question, was he associated with Frank Lloyd Wright;
    I said I didn't think so but Googled the question: I was
    wrong. After getting his doctorate, he came to Scottsdale to
    study with Wright for a year, then went off to launch his
    own star. His dream was to create unified, high-density,
    efficient cities that minimized waste and urban sprawl and
    reduced reliance on the automobile. I always thought of him
    (when I thought of him at all, seldom) as a bit of a cultist
    and a loony, not unlike Wright. This even though I share
    most of his vision. Reason: I think that his ideas were as
    much reified puns as anything. Thinking of himself in solar
    terms, and attributing huge importance to arches and their
    alignment with the sun, he seems to have made architecture
    the extension as much of a Nabokovian word playfulness as
    of his world view. The Wiki says, and I think this is
    pretty much a crib of his own writings -

    Paolo Soleri invented the words "Cosanti", "Arcosanti",
    and "arcology".

    He coined "arcology" by combining the words "architecture"
    and "ecology".

    Cosanti" fuses two Italian words, "cosa" (which means
    "things") and "anti" ("against"). "Arcosanti" combines
    both "arcology" and "Cosanti".

    I may add that arcosanti also means arch of the saints, and
    there is more than a smack of worshipfulness and neomediaeval
    monasticism there under the sky. Not bad for a nontheist.

    It's difficult to launch your star, and in order to survive
    Soleri started making sculptures and utensils out of bronze
    and ceramic. For some reason people latched onto his quirky
    but attractive bells, and it is this for which he is best
    known. Interestingly, few of the bells I saw actually rang
    true at all: it's more the rather gnarly appearance than
    the sound that appeals.

    There are two Soleri sites north of Phoenix - Cosanti, site
    of the major foundry, where he and various family members
    still live, and Arcosanti, the utopian socialist community
    that is, if you will, the real epcotf.

    We visited Cosanti on a crystalline morning, guided by a
    semi-stray cat and an intense and obviously smitten young
    woman. The place is a warren of paths and passages leading
    among workplaces, showplaces, the great man's home, and of
    course a sale point. While we were visiting this last, the
    young woman excitedly offered, there will be a pour at 10,
    would you like to see it? We and the others in the room of
    course said yes; it wasn't a long wait. Worth it, too, as
    even though the pouring of molten metal into molds is pretty
    straightforward, it still strikes a primordial chord. I
    ended up buying a couple bells; I tested them both for tone
    and appearance, and my examining each myopically one and
    then ringing it solemnly must have been an amusing sight.
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  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Arcosanti is Soleri's showpiece, way out in the desert,
    maybe halfway to Sedona and likewise only half as crazy.
    You get off the Interstate around the Agua Fria National
    Monument, and the road turns into this pitted dirt thing
    that does (bad) wonders for the disposition and the
    suspension of the thankfully rental car. It seems like an
    eternity, but it's actually only a couple miles, when you
    reach what from the outside looks like a junkyard or a
    squatters' colony. As you approach, some order appears,
    though it's a kind of disorderly order. You are admitted
    only with a guide, which is sensible, because once inside
    you get the impression of someone's big old estate, which
    I suppose it sort of is.

    Everywhere, evidences of the philosophy of the place: the
    arch-based design, the rough back-to-the-earth surfaces,
    the orientation to the sun (the ostensible reason being
    to take full advantage of the warmth in winter and maximal
    shading in the winter. An everybody-knows-everybody feel,
    possible in a tight-knit community of under a hundred but
    who knows what the vibe would be if the place had been
    developed to its fullest, with 5000 bodies in 25 acres,
    which would make it one of the most densely populated
    places on earth. I don't know if Soleri the visionary
    visualized issues like the need for at least a little more
    psychological space than that or more practical ones like

    Our guide, an attractive and energetic young east European
    woman, had been there studying for over five years and was
    still bright-eyed enthusiastic, which is good, as if the
    old guy can still find hard-working and bright visionaries,
    there might still be hope for the project, which from the
    looks of it is in maintenance mode if that. I think that
    recruiting handy persons may be necessary to keep up the
    slightly crumbly-looking physical plant. She made a good
    case for the concept and a wistful one for the reality.

    The hour tour took a bit longer than that.


    Deer Valley Rock Art Center was our last stop before flying
    out. It's a huge concentration of petroglyphs unfortunately
    very close to urban development: unfortunate in that some
    vandalism has apparently occurred, and permitted access to
    them is very limited. The consequence, of course, that I can
    see few if any of them. This was a major crossroads in
    native travels, but who knows what the symbols mean (part of
    the romance of them). Graffiti? Religious imagery? Meet me
    at the next mesa at ten? It is known that they were the work
    of various native tribes, including the Pima and the Hohokam
    and perhaps others, over the span of over a thousand years.
    Despite what little I could see, I was moved by visiting.

    The site is owned by the government and run by ASU, which
    does a nice job.

    We dragged our butts through prerush hour traffic to get to
    the airport; being a little early, we went in search of a
    bar - the one I knew about was long gone in a now-deserted
    area. We gave up, deposited the rental, and took the bus to
    the airport, where beer and wine, though not plentiful by
    any means, were available.
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  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Arizona meals.

    Tortilla Flat is your quintessential tourist trap: I'm sure
    that some of the stuff said about is true, but not a whole
    lot. Bunch of junk about the Lost Dutchman mine, treasure
    hidden in the hills, foul murders, the usual Western schtick.
    The place is decorated in this parody cowboy style; at the
    bar you sit on modified saddles and drink out of Ball jars.
    Paper money allsorts (valued at what is claimed to be $100K)
    is the wallpaper.

    Beer comes in two flavors, light (something like "Mule Pee"
    or "Mule Drool") and dark "Snake Venom". We ordered one of
    each, and when I asked for the latter, the bartendress shook
    her head and said "braaaave man." Brave? it tasted like
    Michelob Amber Bock but wasn't a bad buy for $3 and change.

    lili had her usual burger, which was okay in a meatloaf
    sort of way, not unlike the Continental Airlines one, except
    that it tasted like something. It was pretty big - she gave
    me half of it, and I finished half of that - and came with a
    mountain of not so good fries.

    The "killer" chili had too many beans (i.e., any) and way
    too many tomatoes; it was quite spicy, though, and not at
    all unpalatable. I had the small, which was enough even
    without half of lili's burger; it came with a whitebread
    tortilla that smelled kind of funny.


    No newcomer to Phoenix should miss Pizzeria Bianco, not
    the only pizza parlor to have a James Beard award (Pepe's
    in New Haven, whose food is good but not as good, was
    designated an American Classic), but with the only Best Chef
    who is a pizza baker. My friend TW1 introduced me to Chris
    Bianco and his food back half a dozen years ago, and I've
    been back a few times since. It's not such a spendy place
    for a celebrity chef venue, but the waits at mealtimes can
    stretch into the hours - on busy weekends, five or more.

    Lunch is less of a problem, and weekday lunch at opening
    time, well, we were among the first in there; but as we sat
    the noise level increased ("rose to a crescendo" is one of
    the most pretentious phrases ever used, and please never use
    it except as a parody) rapidly, and by the time we had eaten
    the crescendo had topped out at fortissimo: the small room
    was packed at 12:30, and there was a goodly line outside.

    We started off with an order of spiedini - two skewers of
    cheese wrapped in prosciutto and baked until the cheese is
    softened. Normally these are made with fontina, but we were
    lucky this day, as the cheese was excellent aged Parmesan.
    Underneath: a bed of mesclun tossed with first-rate olive
    oil and pretty good balsamic. Altogether an umamifest and in
    fact almost enough for lunch in itself, along with the good
    crusty bread that came with. But as the place is a pizzeria
    we also ordered the Wiseguy (wise a pun for weiss, meaning
    white, as does bianco), a tomato-free pie topped with fennel
    sausage (from much-acclaimed boutique butcher Schreiner down
    the street), caramelized onions, and house-smoked mozzarella
    - the only gripe I'd have was that the cheese here added not
    much more than a bland antiflavor, and what smoke they used
    tasted as much like tobacco as anything. Okay, another one:
    though the amount of sausage was (barely) adequate, I wanted
    much more so I could pull some off and snack on it alone.

    A couple beers and a couple glasses of Chianti and we were
    northward of $50. Not that much of an indulgence, but not
    a cheap pizza lunch either.
    work2fly and sobore like this.
  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA6528 PHX LAX 1924 1950 CRJ 3D

    lili and I abandoned each other, she to a nonstop home,
    I back east. The first leg on a barbie jet was mitigated by
    previous ingestion of a glass or three of cheap airport
    wine. These seats are tolerable if only you have an empty
    next to you. After boarding there were two empties - next
    to me and the one directly ahead. Someone hurried on at the
    last sec and seated himself by me. So near and yet so far.

    We got in quite a bit early, about 1923, so doing the old
    time travel trick; but as usual we did the tour of the
    neighborhood while waiting for a gate to come free.

    On the PA the entire Nutcracker Suite, including the boring
    bits, jazzed to try to hipify the unhippable. There was time
    to visit both United Clubs.

    I was going to economize and just let the free snacks at
    the club tide me over until the flight, but somehow a whiff
    of burning beef fat called, so I got a sandwich, see below,
    at Carl's Jr.

    UA 564 LAX ORD 2301 0503 752 2B Ch9^ Empower^

    The gracious but ditzy older FA bumped into several people
    (including me) in her politely making way for folks in the
    aisle. She kept me in Courvoisier as I stayed awake for most
    of the flight. There was an okay antipasto plate - decent
    prosciutto, decent bocconcini, almost ripe tomato, tasty
    roast red pepper, somewhat fibrous but okay baby artichokes,
    cured olives. A side salad with uncured olives and lettuce
    that nobody could find a cure for. Some kind of Love and
    Quiches brownie with butterscotch bits.

    UA 524 ORD BOS 0611 0930 752 2B Ch9:td: Empower:td:

    As there was neither Channel 9 nor laptop power on this
    flight I slept through it except when the guy next to me
    got apnea and woke me up (I know it wasn't me having apnea,
    as after I woke up he was still honking away).

    Had a couple rehearsals and a concert (retired doesn't
    always mean fully retired), visited some friends, including
    my friend Dave, whose wife is fighting the good fight, and
    his sister Esther.

    UA1177 BOS EWR 1300 1439 738 3A
    4227 EWR BWI 1709 1816 ER4 5A

    I didn't even try the bar situation in the club, but the
    Courvoisier situation aboard was favorable. As usual, a
    hoof (by bus) to the EWR commuter gates, where the club
    offers almost fatally bad wine free and gut-rotting wine
    for a fee. Wi-fi wasn't working very well, and I was glad
    not to have to spend much time here.
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  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    US 990 DCA CLT 1210 1333 320 11F
    1578 CLT PHL 1445 1623 321 22F
    4139 PHL IPT 2135 2227 DH8 4F
    3740 DCA PHL 1200 1305 CRJ 2B
    4405 PHL IPT 1534 1626 DH8 4A

    I checked in at the machine, which told me that I needed to
    see a real person. Okay, I thought Williamsport wasn't going
    so I'd have to wait a long time - turns out they had really
    cancelled the Philly plane and couldn't get me on any other
    nonstop this day. After some work, the agent found space on
    the other rather odd routing, not a great thing, as instead
    of a 100-mile flight I had 800 miles, largely in the wrong
    direction, on an award ticket. And as Annie had promised to
    take me out for sushi and beer, her treat, this was a major
    loss. Instead of a relaxed trip with some nice raw fish at
    the end, this became an unwieldy mess punctuated with
    scrounging around for whatever calories were available.

    The first flight: pretty full, but I got the exit row window
    with nobody sitting next to me. The guy at the aisle viewed
    me as an obstacle and was quite reluctant to make enough
    room for me to get to my seat (and this was the exit row, so
    he was very obstructive indeed). He looked kind of like
    Dizzy Gillespie, beret, funky clothing, etc., and the black
    FA seemed unduly impressed, asking him pointed questions
    like, do you play an instrument?; I almost pointed out that
    the Diz has been dead for almost 10 years now. The flight
    itself was okay.

    Unfortunately, I had gotten to this gate pretty late, and
    they made me check my bag through - the good thing is that
    Philly can be tough to negotiate with luggage; the bad thing
    is that if you entrust your bag to the airline, the chances
    are exceedingly good that something will go missing from it
    in this city. They should take all the baggage handlers at
    this airport and put them in jail, and then the city's crime
    stats would improve notably.

    The second flight: totally full, but I got the exit row
    window with an excessively pretty 21-year-old sitting next
    to me and in fact a number of quite eyepleasing women in the
    neighborhood, including the FA. I chatted a bit with my
    seatmate, but she seemed inclined more toward the guy on the
    aisle, who was younger and probably less threatening-looking
    as well.

    Another perfectly okay flight.

    I recognized the F FA on the way out as someone who had
    served me many times on the BOS-DCA route, so we exchanged

    Plenty of time to guzzle beer and Bourbon at the club, where
    two familiar bartenders were working, Mike and some Somali?
    girl whose name is unpronounceable. I gave them good tips.

    Next flight: I stayed as long as reasonable at the club and
    then took the shuttle to the commuter terminal. I arrived at
    "boarding" only to find that our aircraft was parked at a
    remote stand, way off someplace, and we had to take another
    bus to it.

    Another boring flight, and I got to Williamsport only
    6 hours late.
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Not much notable this trip. A couple Christmas parties. A
    lot of beef and beer, my perfect diet and habitat. Watching
    the snow fall. Quite relaxing except for when Annie got
    morose about her new widowhood, but it was worth it being
    there to talk her down.

    So there was this biggish snowstorm that messed up my plans
    a bit (we had a foot before the freezing rain came and
    packed it down to 10"). As we were snowed and iced in, all
    poor we had for sustenance was leftovers, not so awful for
    me as it was right after Christmas, the natural habitat of
    the leftover, but bad for Annie, as she hates leftovers.

    I had plenty of leisure to call the airlines and ended up
    getting the same seats as on cancelled flights two days
    later, not a bad outcome - Jean, Syd's sister, was booked
    11 hours earlier than me, which would have been a bad
    outcome. Annie tried to talk me into staying through new
    year's (and catering her party, which Mike talked her into
    having so as to keep her mind off things) and blow off my
    other friends. I thought about this but decided no go, as
    I'd already committed, and the cats were getting tired of
    (in the case of the two Birmans) and desensitized (in the
    case of the evil Lola) to me.

    I ate leftovers upon leftovers, and there was actually
    enough for me to take a sack on the plane for dinner.

    I made oyster pan roast out of leftover oysters, not bad,
    and augmented some leftover spaghetti sauce with leftover
    sausage, also not bad. There were also about 4 lb of roast
    beef, of which I ate the rare parts and the outside well
    done parts, and Annie froze the rest for hash later, as
    she has lots of potatoes on their last legs (she keeps
    them above the fridge, where it is warm). She THREW AWAY
    the juice and fat from the roasts.

    She ate out of the freezer and cans. One of the freezer
    things was a pound of burger - she wanted burger and gravy,
    so I made her a burger medium well (ick), and she nuked
    a can of Heinz in a big measuring cup (ick) and was in pig
    heaven, as she calls it. During this delightful meal she
    had to excuse herself, the relevance being that Lola
    immediately jumped up on the table and tried to drown
    herself in the measuring cup, and to my credit I didn't
    help her by pushing her all the way in, but shame on me,
    I just laughed rather than shooing her off. The second
    relevance is that I'd begged her to let me make real gravy
    instead of that canned crap, but she said she wanted to
    help the Pennsylvania economy along (ick). Another meal
    saw her opening a can of sardines and eating them on
    crackers. In the olden days, Annie was known for textile
    work that crossed between folk art and flamboyant gay art
    (remember that in those times she had a husband who was gay)
    and was really good at things that I appreciated the quality
    of but didn't care for. Lately she's gotten lazy and has
    quit being a celebrity artist and is good at things that I
    don't either appreciate or care for. She still is amusing
    and a loyal friend, don't get me wrong.

    I admit I enjoyed myself fine and ate quite a bit better
    than I would have at my brother's.
  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    US4544 IPT PHL 1644 1738 DH8 4A

    The way to Montoursville was only slightly slippery, so
    getting to the airport took about the 15 minutes we had
    allotted, and I was one of the last to check in, as the
    inbound was deplaning. Also one of the last through the
    machine, so after I was shooed through, a bit of a delay,
    then the alarm went off. They said you've been selected
    for random screening, which consisted of having my hands
    swabbed. This silliness took all of thirty seconds and
    probably served to justify the explosives machine's
    existence for another day. I figured they were bored.

    Some fidgety-looking guy took the opposite exit row
    (despite the cancellations of the previous days it was
    not a full flight); he had to be reminded about his
    carryons and speaking of which had the air of a mortician
    or a buzzard about him (think the Monty Python undertaker
    sketch). I half expected something out of him so did not
    sleep well until we were at cruise, so my nice 30-min nap
    turned into a 15-min one. Right on approach he got up and
    headed for the front, which made me think this is it, and
    I tensed up, but he merely wanted to go to the bathroom.
    He failed at this and in fact was cowed by the attendant
    into staying in his seat even after it was allowed to get
    up. We landed early, and I said hallelujah, time for a beer.

    Only they put us at a remote stand, and it was actually a
    bit late when US Air got it together to find a marshal to
    park us in the exact right spot, then two buses to get us
    out of there. At least they had separate buses for F and C,
    this being the commuter and regular terminals, not classes.
    I got to the club shortly after 6 to check my mail but
    found that Pete, one of the bartenders I hadn't seen in a
    while, was working, so I got me a Bourbon, which he poured
    generously, so there was still a finger or two left when I
    was done and it was time to go to the gate. I chugged the
    couple ounces and was out of there.

    UA3335 PHL IAD 1842 1951 ER4 12A

    This is a relatively good seat, as it's a single exit row,
    and I made myself comfy and comaed it the whole flight.

    Having taken off on time and had no trouble on the way, we
    landed a bunch early, and if they'd deplaned us right away
    I would have been able to get the 2000 5A bus, and if not I
    had the 2040 fallback. But, as with everybody express these
    days, even though we got transported safely and timely,
    there was a snafu - though the A4 area was open, and the
    north part of A6 was open, we had been assigned to the
    south part of A6, which had been used as a parking lot for
    many baggage carts and apparently, although I didn't see it,
    a fuel truck. I watched as 2000 came and went; then 2015.
    I was thinking of having a nice nightcap at the club and
    waiting for the 2120 bus, the last one that would allow me
    to make my connection home.

    It took us half an hour to clear the mess, and we were
    allowed off around 2020.

    On the way out an old lady rather disagreeably started to
    fuss with the flight attendant about her bags and how was
    she expected to carry them? The FA didn't know what to say
    and said a gate agent would help her, pointing vaguely out
    in the darkness. I waited patiently for everyone in a hurry
    to get their gate-check stuff and then went to get mine. I
    noticed her walking around and around the cart gaping. So
    I decided to inquire about her situation: turns out that she
    had checked two bags in Madrid, picked them up at customs in
    Philly, then rechecked them, the correct procedure, and here
    she was expecting to pick them up off a rinkydink cart in
    the dark and haul them upstairs, downstairs, downstairs to
    the train, and then upstairs again. I disabused her of that
    notion - I had been disinclined to get involved after seeing
    how she yelled at the flight attendant but rethought when it
    was clear that she was on the border of panic rather than
    the border of bitchery; I offered to show her the way to
    bag claim, scotching my dreams and hopes for free alcohol.
    So I escorted her to the carousel, something that a United
    employee should have done, and parked her there and went to
    the bus stop in the hope that it hadn't left, and guess
    what, it was sitting there waiting, and in fact continued to
    wait for two minutes beyond departure time.

    I caught the bus back, made various connections, and just
    missed the second-to-last bus; so I had time for my nightcap
    after all, though it cost $8 instead of just a $1 tip.

    There was still nearly a pound of sausages in my grub bag,
    so I made a big pot of Spanishish rice using these for the
    more customary hot dogs. Told my brother that he could have
    some, so he ate the bulk of it; luckily I got enough for
    two snacks, which was all I needed.
  10. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    My brother offered to take me to the airport. This usually
    means that he wants to take a ride. Really wants, in this
    case, as I wanted to be out before 10, and he almost never
    gets up before 10. It's not such a great deal for me, for
    though public trans takes up to 90 minutes and less than
    $8, I reimburse his gas, about 2 gallons, but usually I
    just give him a ten or twenty.

    I allowed enough leeway so that if he didn't deliver (which
    has happened) I could still cab it to the subway and get
    to the airport on time; at the tipping point he was still
    asleep, so I woke him. Turns out he had as usual misheard
    and mistaken the departure time I had told him for his
    wakeup time. A hasty dressing and departure.

    At the corner near the house, we passed a car parked in a
    not-usually-parked place, right by the traffic light. He
    mused that that was not a usual place for a car to be
    parked. I agreed. As we went by I noted that there was
    nobody in the car, but there was a dent in on the left
    side, which to me suggested something. He asked, why would
    there be a tent on the left side of the car. Trying to
    teach him something about context, I said, you misheard me,
    what would there be on the side of a car that sounds like
    tent but isn't. The only word he could come up with was
    tint. Oh dear lord, save me. A sort of Socratic dialogue
    ensued, with me putting forth the facts of there being a
    car parked at the side of the road that had a something
    sounding like tent. It took me a while, but eventually he
    figured it out.

    It was not a great trip. Over the next twenty minutes he
    zoned out a couple times and swerved, nearly hitting things,
    and I wondered for a sec or three if this wasn't going to
    end badly. It didn't.

    As we pulled into DCA, we passed this bronze statue, and he
    asked me, who is that guy? I answered, Reagan. "He looks
    younger than Reagan." A lot browner, too, I said.

    An attendant at the roped-off PreCheck line challenged me
    when I went to use it, asking for some kind of credential.
    I told her it was preencoded into my boarding pass, which
    explanation she accepted grudgingly. Three beeps and a
    quick routine later I was at the door of the club. The
    first class line would have been only a few more minutes,
    but the regular line looked at being 20 at least.

    My favorite concierge took care of me; good to see Mary;
    unfortunately I was out of treats (didn't go to Harbor
    Sweets this December).

    US3740 DCA PHL 1200 1305 CRJ 3A

    This left from the remote gate 35A. Though our craft was
    first in line and thus walkable, that would have constituted
    a security issue, so we sat on the bus for 10 minutes doing
    nothin'. The flight was right on time, so I had just time
    for a walkthrough of the B-C club to get my e-mail. On the
    way out, I noticed my favorite bartender; we exchanged happy
    new yearses, and I regretted that I didn't have time to stop
    for a drink. And in fact, boarding had almost completed by
    the time I got to the gate.

    US3274 PHL PVD 1355 1504 E75 3A

    There was room above for my carryon. I was about to sling
    my personal item onto my seat when I just barely noticed
    that there was an occupant - to wit, a Kindle or tablet.
    The guy at 2A had put it there for some reason. I'm lucky
    I didn't plop my stuff down there, said I. He admitted he
    was the lucky one.

    In the magazine I noticed that the spirits list has been
    severely cut to 4 items, Bailey's, CC, Courvoisier VSOP,
    and I think Bacardi, anyhow something I'm not interested in
    and that isn't bourbon. I asked for Courvoisier only to be
    informed that there was no such thing. I said, brandy? and
    the FA, who was not unpleasant, said that that was only on
    the big planes. So after consulting the list again I asked
    for a Mr. Pibb, which I'd not tasted in a long time. It
    was severely caffeinated and severely oversweet; tasted
    like carbonated maraschino cherry juice. Along with this
    Biscoffs and a tiny bag of stale Cape Cod potato chips.

    My friends Lucille and Sue picked me up at the airport and
    got me back on the island in good time. I offered, maybe
    encouraged me to go off drinking with me, but they demurred,
    apparently having things to do.

    I had several day's visit with my buddy Rosemary. We were
    supposed to have a whirlwind rota of party upon party, but
    she came down with a severe cold, and I decided to keep her
    company rather than go to the parties. We ate mostly
    leftovers out of her fridge, as it was snowy and unpleasant
    out. When the time came, the train from Wickford to Boston
    was easy and not too expensive. There also was wi-fi.

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