My trip to Washington, DC left me feeling a bit like Dorothy after she was whisked over the rainbow and into the Land of Oz. It was a whirlwind three days filled with new friends, new experiences, and a lot of snow.
The trip started out with a strange but wonderful encounter. Somehow the fates had aligned, and another Julie (also 28 and jobless) who I follow in the blogosphere had an interview that very same day in Maryland. Our flights arrived at BWI around the same time and so we took the opportunity to meet in person. She was kind enough to excuse my un-made up appearance and we shared a salad and some lovely conversation about being unemployed, moving across the country, and the pressures of interviewing after such a long hiatus.
That first evening, as I headed down to the hotel lounge for some grub, I noticed many strange creatures wearing red and gold. Turns out, FedEx field, the home turf of the Washington Redskins, is only a mile away from the hotel where I was staying. And the place was packed full of footballs fans going to the game that Monday night, some drunk, and some on the way to being drunk. One guy was even wearing a packer hat, for no apparent reason, but it made me feel a bit more at home amongst the crowd. As I mowed down on a tasty grilled cheese and some fries (the vegetarian menu options were scarce) I was happy to be surrounded by such frenzy. Too bad the Redskins lost 12-45.
Day two involved braving the Metro (which was wonderfully easy) and meeting another friendly stranger, Mindy Klasky, a writer and the daughter of a friend of my fabulous Aunt Liz. She took me to a pizzeria where I indulged myself by eating some of the yummiest margarita pizza I have ever consumed. We talked about living in Washington, DC, being a writer, career changes, and other various topics. Then she offered me some advice on what to see and do for the rest of the afternoon, and I was on my way. In two days I had met two successful and fabulous women, both who inspire me… and both who gave me some great advice.
Per Mindy’s suggestions I hit the Smithsonian after lunch and managed to wander through the Natural History Museum, where I was slightly disturbed by all the “stuffed” animals, but impressed with the exhibits. I even saw the famous Hope diamond, which though I am not a jewelry fanatic, was pretty cool. In fact, the whole gemstones section of the museum was probably the highlight, so check it out if you ever have the opportunity. Then I ran over to the American History Museum to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Kermit the frog and Julia Child’s kitchen.
So now, let’s take a moment to talk about the snow. Walking from the train to the Smithsonian (or anywhere in DC for that matter) was insane. Days after the snow had fallen, the streets were still a mess, paths were still not cleared around the national monuments and the schools were still closed. Yes, that’s right my fellow Midwesterners, school was closed, not during the storm but three days later, when the sky was blue and the temperatures were in the 40’s. I laughed, as I trekked through puddles and sheets of ice to get a good view of the Capital, and I laughed when I was driving to my interview and all of a sudden the right lane disappeared and turned into a snow bank. In Wisconsin, the day after a storm comes, school is in session, the roads are clear and life is totally back to normal. And I bragged about this fact over and over again throughout my three-day stay in the District, and boy was I forced to eat my words…
Wednesday arrived, and after a nice holiday lunch with the designers I could potentially be working with, I headed to the airport. It was the day before Christmas Eve day, and let me just state for the record that I vow never to fly on, or around, Christmas ever again. The security lines were infinite, people were missing their flights left and right, tears were being shed, food was being devoured in a slightly animalistic fashion (right in the security line). One good thing about witnessing this whole debacle we call “Holiday travel” was that it definitely reinforced my disdain for this time of year.
We boarded the plane late, due to travelers trying to make connections, or people trying to get on the flight because they had already missed connections. It was smooth sailing, until I noticed we had been flying in circles for about an hour. This ends up being due to a broken plow (or so they told us) on the ground at the Milwaukee airport. So we turned the plane around and landed in Flint Michigan. Where is Flint, you ask (funny, I asked the same thing)? It’s north and west of Detroit, just so you know. Anyways, there we sat for another hour or so, with non-functioning bathrooms, until we re-fueled and tried to head for Milwaukee again.
Meanwhile I, and my very cute seatmate, are texting our families to try and find out how bad the weather is. My mom responds that it’s not bad, just a little slush. His brother says he is watching planes land at Mitchell International and the snow is light. So my seatmate and I are irritated, and suspicious of why we couldn’t land in the first place.
Now folks, here is the bad thing about being from the Midwest. If a snowstorm isn’t a blizzard of epic proportions you tend to think of it as “slush.” So when our plane finally did land I was shocked that we could even get on the ground with so much slow flying through the air. I decide at that point to forgive our captain, and thank him (silently) for getting us home safe in such bad weather.
I then drove a terrifying 26 miles from the airport to my parent’s house, through completely unplowed roads. This was about the point I started eating my words. You know, all that bragging I managed to do out East about how our plows are out right away, and that the drivers know what they are doing. Um, I don’t think I saw one plow on my entire life-altering drive home from the airport.
I can say, however, that all is well today. The streets are clear and life is back to normal. But wow, I am still recovering from several hours on a plane, three days in the snow, too much time spent with drunk football fans, and meeting a myriad of new people. This Dorothy is glad to be back in Kansas… I mean Milwaukee.