Friday, January 26, 2007

Off to Our Nation's Capital

The West Virginia Appalachian's undulate beneath the clouds

3:30 a.m. Denny’s Restaurant, Woodland, CA

It’s very cold out – in the 30s. I could’ve made the Sacramento Airport without the stop, but the prospect of a waffle and a cup of coffee lured me here.


At about 11:30 p.m. last night, I finally laid down for a rest, but my mind was racing. Too much coffee throughout the day (at home, Flying Goat, Holy Roast and A’Roma’s!) Almost a criminal energy coursing through my veins. Up before 1:00 a.m. Packed up for Washington, including a towel, pillow and sleeping bag. I was heading into a “group housing” situation and didn’t quite know what to expect.

Most of my clothes were the usual jeans and work shirt-type stuff, certainly suitable for a protest march, but I included a sport coat, slacks, dress shirt and nice shoes for Monday’s Congressional office visits. And, in anticipation of freezing weather, I would need to pack my down jacket (which I had actually been wearing over my Aerostich suit for the hour and a half ride from Santa Rosa to Woodland.)

And, of course, I would be toting my camera and computer (which is now of questionable utility.)

I can’t quite envision how I’ll carry all this on Washington's Metro. I’m going to be a wreck! It will be a miracle if I’m not sick this weekend. Showered, dressed, then loaded up the bike. Pulled on the layers of riding gear, starting with the electric vest.

Virtually no traffic, but dense fog for the first hour, as far as Fairfield. I was anxious, watching for animals and other road hazards.


“Frontier Airlines” – my first time on this carrier. You can pay $8 for pay-per-view on an index-card-sized monitor on the seat back in front of you. Our in-flight “meal” consisted of a granola bar and choice of beverage. One of the crew members even joked that we’d wish we had breakfast before getting on the plane. Fortunately, I had.

According to the emergency instruction card, it’s an Airbus A302 or 303. There’s a connection in Denver to another aircraft of the same type. I take a few photos of the frozen landscape below. One, which I call “Nebraska lines”, reminds me a bit of Peru’s mysterious Nasca Lines. It is taken from south of Grand Island, at 37,000 feet and 555 mph according to the TV display. (How’s that for a steady hand!)

Colorado's frozen plains

Nebraska lines

The landscape looks like it was whitened by a giant spray gun and we’re flying just along the southern extent of the snow. Except for a bit of fog, haze and contrails, it’s a pretty cloudless USA, until the Appalachians.

Climbing out of my seat for a bathroom break, I’m “forced” to meet my neighbor a couple seats away. He is Alan Castro, a “boat person” from Sausalito, CA.. His girlfriend is Jane Fonda’s daughter and he’s going to the March on Washington, because his girlfriend called from Georgia and suggested he join her there.

These days, Alan works at delivering container-loads of books to needy communities around the world.

Stepping out of the Ronald Reagan National Airport and into the frigid Washington evening was actually quite refreshing. A short walk brought me to the Metro platform.

Deborah Fort, my host in Washington, provided perfectly clear directions to her house. Rolled my bag off the Metro at the Tenleytown station, “away from the ‘Best Buy’ and all that stuff” and down through a quiet old neighborhood, the rolling travel bag click-clacking over sidewalk seams. (“Wonder if it’s an unusual sound for here?”)

Easily found the house (a bumper-stickered Camry parked at the curb out front.) Other guests were already there: “Jennifer, Scott and Wesley” from Muncie, Indiana. Jennifer’s a activist, Scott’s a geology professor at Ball State. Wesley is 4 years old and undecided about a career.

Deborah’s a former Georgetown Comparative Literature professor. Her husband had also been a Georgetown professor. He passed away 2-1/2 years ago, and Deborah said she’s still grieving.

She had a big pot of soup on the stove, and we soon sat around her dining table. The hearty vegetable soup is a family tradition, she said. With bread and a tapenade-like concoction, and a pleasant Italian red wine, it was quite an unexpected and warm welcome.

I would be using a cellar bedroom, down by the boiler that heated the house. It was accessed by a narrow wooden staircase that seemed to double as a pantry. Full of character! Deborah will soon be renting out the space.

A cozy and comfortable refuge. Quite a contrast to a motel.

1 comment:

Drew Kampion said...

Love those window seats!

Flying may turn out to have been a brief opportunity in the march of civilization, so it's great to enjoy the view while it's there. Future generations might have to do it the old way: climb mountains!