So, this weekend is my trip to Christendom College! I wrote in my notebook the entire way there, and here I sit in the student center (at 11:11 PM - make a wish!) typing it alllll out for your reading pleasure! Hopefully you'll not find a basically minute-by-minute account of my travels by air to be too mind-numbingly dull. ;)
(A little after 2 PM) It took a tortourously long time for the plane to finish getting to the runway and actually take off. But when it did, it was so thrilling! The plane paused and then suddenly the engines grew louder and the plane began taxiing rapidly. Being the speed junky that I am, that was amazingly fun, and with a little ratcheting clunk we became airborne. It was incredible to see the earth quickly fade away, roads becoming neat little grids and rivers shining silver snakes. I must admit that the way the plane was tilting (towards my side of the plane and I'm right beside a security door...things like that always make me nervous) made me a little uneasy, but it soon righted itself. And it was completely worth it for the huge burst of adrenaline as we barrelled straight into the sky and broke in amongst the clouds.
People have always told me that the sight and experience of flying above the clouds is absolutely incredible, but it didn't prepare me for the grandeur of actually experiencing it myself. The plane was wrapped in white, gauzy clouds for about two minutes and then we broke through. Oh, it was beautiful! A vista of whiteness spread around us as far as the eye could see, and the beautiful blue sky shone out through the clouds in varying stripes of pale blue and azul and the softest gray-white. It looked like a whole new world...it looked like heaven.
"Have you flown much?" asked the man seated beside me, observing my transfixed gaze and exclamations of delight.
"No, this is actually my first time."
"Ah! Yes, seeing the clouds is pretty incredible."
"It is! I was really looking forward to seeing it."
"It's like flying above a big white blanket."
So now we're far, far above the clouds that are blanketing the Midwest with cold and gray. The 1st officer just said we're at 29,000 feet (it's 2:35 PM and we're about half an hour from landing in Detroit). When I look out the window I see white clouds all around us, blue skies above, and the sun shining incredibly brightly.
I've decided that flying is very, very fun. The whole nervous getting everywhere I need to be at the airport is stressful, actually boarding the plane is very nerve-wracking, but the actual flying and soaring through the clouds is absolutely blissful and thrilling. It's like riding on an enormous, very tame dragon.
We're losing altitude now (2:49 PM) and it looks like we're flying over Antarctica. The clouds, which really look like a mountainous landscape, are interrupted by patches of blue which looks exactly like water. It's so beautiful...I wasn't expecting it to look so much like a landscape. It's a whole different world in the sky.
(Almost 3 PM) We're sinking and I can once again see the ground! I've never been in MI. I wonder what the plane looks like coming out of the clouds?
You'll appreciate this, Bailey...the man next to me was playing Spider Solitaire.
And now we've left the blue skies and are amongst the turbulent clouds once more.
(A little after 5 PM, sitting on the plane and waiting for take-off...the worst part!) And Mum, you'll appreciate this (or not...) - when viewed from above, subdivision streets look remarkably like centipedes.
So this is what landing was like. After being wrapped in clouds for about 5 minutes, they blew away - puff! We started sinking towards the ground again and Detroit was visible as far as the eye could see. So very odd to think I've been there now (well, I'm still here as I write). The car looked like shiny little bugs gliding along the streets.
We sank lower and lower, getting almost disturbingly close to the fields as we approached the airport. It must take so much practice to know exactly how fast to start decreasing altitude. After about 20 very long minutes of going down all the roads on the runway (another super aggravating/tedious part of air travel), we pulled up to one of the gates and had to wait about 20 more minutes before we could disembark.
The Detroit airport is huge. Thankfully the man who was sitting next to me was very kind (and also, ironically, going to Front Royal!), and he directed me towards the monitor and the correct gate before I, in my slightly discombobulated state, even had time to get my bearings. I started toward Gate B11, taking one of the moving sidewalks, which was very fun and felt a little like flying. Checking in was completely uneventful, and so here I am on the plane.
The planes are much smaller than I'd expected - I felt rather claustrophobic when I got in it the first time. There's only two seats on either side of the very narrow aisle - a bit of a tight squeeze. It's not so bad if you're by a window, however, which both of my seats have been! I actually didn't get the right seat either time, but it doesn't really matter.
And now (5:25 PM) we're moving! I'm such a seasoned traveller now that I barely even looked out the window...I'm sure that blase air will only last on the ground, however!
As usual, I only used one of the things I brought and could easily have gotten by with nothing but my purse and a notebook, since I've spent the entire time writing. This second half of the trip (it's only a little over an hour) will probably be pretty much the same.
(5:33 PM) And we're off! Eeep, I absolutely LOVE that moment of takeoff! As I've mentioned, I do believe I've become a confirmed speed/adrenaline junky. So back I go to my beautiful land above the clouds... The horizon is an absolutely gorgeous shade of plae, pale turquoise.
(6 PM) It's extremely sunny and extremely bumpy! Okay, now it's settled down (the bumpiness...not the sun). Very, very odd to think I'm above Ohio or something right now.
(6:15 PM) The sun is definitely setting and we're once again preparing for landing. This whole trip went so fast! The clouds have cleared and I can see land and MOUNTAINS! I wonder what state we're in. The trees look pretty brightly colored and the grass is green. And the mountains...ahh! They're so beautiful!
(6:30 PM) We're sinking over D.C. and are ahead of schedule - shocking! The wheels came out with a clunk and we're going downnnnn...this is so cool! And taxiing is so fun!
(7:15 PM) So here I am sitting next to Baggage Claim 6 at Dulles! It's still hard to believe that I'm actually in a big city - the United State's capitol, in fact. One of the interesting things is all the different accents and languages I'm hearing - even over the intercom.
Finding my baggage was quite an adventure! I followed the signs saying "Baggage Claim" down two flights of escalators and onto an underground transportation thing that was basically a subway within the airport. That was fun because it went really fast and right through all the pipes and things under the building. I'd been told to meet a Christendom representative at Baggage Claim 6, and therefore I thought that was where my luggage would be too. After waiting for about 5 minutes past the time my flight had been scheduled to arrive (it had arrived about 20 minutes early), I finally had the bright idea of actually looking at the monitor. Oh! The Detroit flight's baggage had to be picked up at Baggage Claim 14 - all the way on the other end of the building! Whoops...
So I walked there and was able to claim my baggage after a few minutes' tense waiting for it to appear. I'm dreadfully paranoid about losing my baggage.
Airplanes, I have decided, are absolutely beautiful. They're so bird-like. Watching them take off is like watching swans in flight. They're also beautiful for the fact that they're such incredible pieces of machinery. When I flew today it made me wish that all the people who had longed for flight over the years could experience it.
Well, I'm toying with the idea of finding something to eat. I won't be picked up for at least 20 more minutes and I don't want to be famished.
(8 PM) There, I walked all the way back to the deli across from Baggage Claim 14 and bought a container of hummus and pita chips for $2.99 - not bad, since I didn't even eat half! It was sooo good...I love hummus.
I'm really enjoying travelling. It's not quite as hard or nerve-wracking as I expected, I haven't had to ask anyone for help yet, and it's rather fun to be doing it all alone and having people call you "ma'am" because you're obviously grown up enough to be travelling alone. The main reason I'd be glad to have a companion would be to have someone to talk to, but that is why I've been writing obssesively the entire trip. I guess I have this strong ingrown need to communicate.
It still feels a bit unreal that I'm sitting here at an international airport outside our nation's capitol...I can't quite grasp it. It still feels like I'm at home in the Midwest and Washington D.C. is far far away on the other side of the country. The idea that I'll actually be sleeping in a dorm at Christendom College tonight also seems a bit preposterous, not to mention the fact that I'll be spending the entire weekend here. Freakyyy...like Twilight Zone-freaky, man.
It'll be about 15 minutes before someone gets here to pick me up. Now I'm getting nervous again! Oh well...I'll live, and it will be fun.
So, that's how it went - my first airplane trip that I can remember, and my first time travelling alone! I'll write more about my actual visit after I get home, but suffice it to say for now that I am having a wonderful time! :)