Sunday, November 15, 2015

Home Sweet Home

To be honest, the city lights below us didn't look any more familiar than all the glittering webs of light we had flown over during the hour flight from Washington DC to Grand Rapids, MI. But when the gear hit the runway I breathed a sigh of relief. I was home.
          It felt so comforting as we taxied from the runway to the terminal because I knew exactly where I had left my car. It was already dark, but I knew what roads to take home. And most importantly, I knew the Sunday evening traffic would be negligible.
          I don't know if you've visited our nation's capital lately but the traffic there is horrendous. There's a gridlock on the Interstates that rivals the impasse in the Congress. (hmm, wonder if that's related?) It's nothing new. I lived in Richmond, Va., more than 30 years ago and Interstate 95 from Richmond to D.C. was a 90-mile parking lot then. It hasn't improved.
          I wasn't surprised that it took two and a half hours to drive the 50 miles from Dulles to Fredericksburg for my nephew's wedding, though it was a little frustrating that a simple three-mile drive from the hotel to the wedding could take 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. I started the return trip at 1 p.m. Sunday. It was as bad as any rush hour. Solid back up. I probably covered 10 miles by 2 p.m. My plane was leaving at 5:20 so I did something rash. I headed off-grid. My printed map of Virginia was sketchy and my GPS was drunk, or at least a little tipsy, imagining roads that simply weren't there.
         Nevertheless, I headed away from the Interstate, going northwest in the general direction of Dulles. I asked the GPS to take me to Manassas, and I was afraid there for a while that I might never get there. The roads kept getting narrower and more winding. State routes turned into barely paved country roads. But once I came out in Manassas the roads finally looked normal. Busy but not frozen. I had no trouble following the signs for the airport and was ecstatic to have avoided the paralyzing traffic on I-95 and the Beltway.
         I got to the airport in plenty of time. The plane was oversold and the agent kept trying to entice someone to give up their seat. First she offered $400 plus hotel, dinner and another flight to GR the next day. Then the offer went up to $500, $600, $700.  I considered it because my Monday commitments were light and it might be fun to have an extra day to see the Newseum in DC. But just thinking about all that traffic. There simply isn't enough money on earth to make that worthwhile. 

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