Friday, October 9, 2009

Travel musings

To step back in time about a week:

I'm glad to report that my suitcase survived the not at all arduous journey to the City and back. All the paint remained on the suitcase. No one walked off it, but then again, in the dozens of trips that I've taken before this last time, no had walked off with my suitcase, either.

My attempts to make my suitcase stand out actually heightened my fear that someone would mistakenly walk away with it. Would someone else, also with a painted suitcase, just quickly glance, "Oh, I see paint" and walk away with mine? Would they take the time to actually look at the pattern on the paint to make sure it was the right bag? When picking out my bag from the cart, I was terrified that I would pick out the wrong bag. I would keep looking down at the suitcase, checking and rechecking, as I walked through the terminal.

It wasn't until I was about to leave the the City and I caught a commercial on TV--a Southwest commercial showing workers putting luggage on a plane--and saw that none of the suitcases were painted with a design, that it hit me that painted suitcases were rare. I was not until I was in Dulles, sitting in one of their "Travelling lounges" next to a flight attendant that had a multicolored tassel on her suitcase, that I was fully at ease. It was that moment that I remembered that a colored ribbon or tie was what almost everyone used to identify their suitcases, just this little piece of fabric. And I had painted 5 sides of my suitcase--including painting my initials, in full spray paint glory, on the back. No, I think my suitcase was distinctive and hard to mistake.

The morning before I left the City, I went to the restaurant The Egg and I. I've been trying to find good breakfast places around the City. I'm convinced that one has not really experienced a town until one has searched out the best places to have breakfast there. One normally hears discussions about where to go for lunch or dinner, but people rarely have arguments over where to go for breakfast. The choices seem so limited: either the all-American egg/batter-based carb/salted meat or coffee/pastries. Where would you go for an Asian-fusion breakfast? Greek breakfast? Indian breakfast? Maybe those things don't exist in your town, but part of the adventure is finding that out.

The Egg and I is a suburban place, not a greasy spoon--its pancakes are whole wheat, the cheese on its omelets smelled chevre-ish--and the lunch-level prices reflected that as well. The particular restaurant I visited (it's a chain restaurant) was quite new, and the decor reflected a French countryside palette. There was a banquet area, and a group of about 1st grade girls were having a party. This was about 10am on a Saturday. Service was friendly and prompt. It was a good restaurant, but not outstanding, either. There was plenty of food, and breakfast held me until dinner. This would have been a good thing, except that I met with friends for a goodbye lunch right before I went to the airport, and I could only take about 3 bites of my lunch.

I arrived back in Dulles about 8:30pm. I rode in one of their travelling lounges, which was actually quite neat--it's much like a rail car in its size, about 1.5 - 2 times the width of a normal bus, with seats lining the side and lots of open room in the middle. It was very comfortable, and, yes, felt lounge-like. When I arrived in my terminal, it was a little before 9pm and the shops were all closing, pulling down grills across their entrances. I wanted to get Auntie Anne's pretzels, located at gate B76. I was at B3 or so. I started walking down the concourse, but only got to about the B40's before I accepted the fact that I was not going to make it in time. Did I mention that the concourse is one straight long line? It was neat, though, walking though this gigantic concourse, soaring ceilings, all glass, and having it be basically closed, all the waiting areas empty and dimmed. It was peaceful and grand. I imagine that this is what the architects wanted me to feel.

Once we landed in University Town, someone in the front of the plane announced the football game score, with our team was fairly far behind, and that there was only 11 minutes left in the game. There were groans of disappointment, but then, also a slight bit of tension. You see, there is only one main road out of the airport. This road leads directly to the stadium. From the stadium, one can then turn to get into town. In other words, we had to get off the plane and onto the road in 11 minutes, or else we would be stuck with the 100,000 people leaving the stadium. (And yes, the stadium holds 100,000 people. I think 107,280 to be more exact. This is a football town.)

I was lucky. I just beat the crowd. It was good to be home.


musesmom said...

I came across your blog after Googling for help on painting my suitcase. ;-) Ended up reading all your entries. You write well! Not that I'm stalking you, but from the photo of the hills and the stadium size, I'm guessing you are in State College, PA...grad student at Penn State.?? I live north of Binghamton University in NY state. Similar countryside.
Good luck with your studies and your writing/blogging. My bro. and SIL have PhD's in English from U of So. Ill. and work at U. St. Cloud in MN.

Teashell said...

musesmom: Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am at Penn State--good guess! I hope your suitcase turns out beautifully.