I grew up a military brat, meaning I lived around the country — Boston, Pittsburgh, Connecticut. I’ve lived — and drove — in Pittsburgh, Philly and the California mountains as an adult so I know how to get around in the snow. But no one was prepared for what Mother Nature dropped on the Washington, D.C. area yesterday (January 26).
The day started with a 7:50 am flight to Washington Dulles from San Francisco. An ominous beginning because all the flights to D.C. after mine were cancelled. We landed at 4:30 pm and, walking toward baggage claim, I noticed that the departures boards were filled with yellow “cancelled” notices.
Then it really got interesting!
I went down to get a cab about 5pm but there were no cabs. So I tried for the dreaded SuperShuttle but they were done for the day. I bought a ticket for the Washington Flyer bus to get to the West Falls Church Metro station. It was due at Dulles at 6:15. I waited with dozens of other passengers and were told the bus had become stuck in the snow so it “should be here by 7.” Hmmpphhh!
Finally by 8 o’clock many of us decided to go for a rental car. I called Avis and agreed to take a car for one day… for $120. That’s for one day, 24 hours, $120! But I digress! so my intrepid colleagues and I slogged our way through the driving snow down to the rental car shuttle bus stop. 45 minutes, no shuttle bus. I called the rental center and learned that all the shuttle buses were stuck in the snow at the lot “but one should be pulling up any minute.” Pssshhaawww!
About 8:45 an SUV pulls up and a guy gets out and asks if we were waiting for Avis? The bum rush was on and I was lucky enough to get my bags there first. Never mind that I had to ride on top of the luggage. I got to the lot and it was a sight. Few cars, all covered with at least 6 inches of snow and a few workers trying to free the shuttle buses.
I got my car about 9 o’clock and thought there would be people stuck in the taxi line or the shuttle bus stop and maybe I could offer them a ride to downtown D.C.
I picked up a U-S Airways flight crew from Charlotte that I learned landed around the same time as me. We left for D.C. at 9:15 for an estimated 45 minute ride to the district. Hah!
We slowly made our way — sitting still for periods of 30 minutes or more — past abandoned cars (where do those people go?), stalled cars or cars with drivers who were just waiting. One guy said he was waiting for Triple AAA because his car just stopped. His main complaint was that he was cold. We felt bad but there was nothing we could do.
We finally arrived at their hotel at 2:30 only to find US Airways had given them the wrong address. Their hotel was actually in Gaithersburg — 25 miles away. Merde!
We finally got them settled at the Omni. But they insisted on buying me dinner at the fanciest restaurant we could find… at 3 am. I had le filet de poisson. Pilot George Levings, had pounder de quart avec le fromage et les pommes frites. Flight attendant Dustin Adams wanted dégonfler des pépites. And I can’t remember what first officer Krista Donovan or flight attendant Stephanie Langkam had. Okay, okay, so we went to McDonalds! Mmmmm!
I dropped them off at the Omni, after making sure they actually had rooms, and finally made it to my hotel at 4:30, 12 hours after landing.
It is a trip that was really a trip and one — Snowmaggedon 2011 — that none of us will soon forget.