Tuesday, I mean, the day we had booked, months ago, for traveling to England. Because of Libby's love of Iceland Air, we chose that airline. The only trouble was, that airline departs from Dulles International, near DC, and there is no good way to get from here to there; that is, from Richmond to Dulles. Still, the departure time was going to be 8:25 p.m., so in view of that, we made a plan that seemed reasonable. Take the 2:12 AMTRAK train to Union Station arriving at 4:37, leaving 2 whole hours to get to the airport in plenty of time. Take the Metro to wherever you board the bus to Dulles. (Demetrios had done this in reverse on the way home from Greece last year with very little difficulty, although he couldn't remember exactly where the connections are...)
Well, that might have worked had not everything gone wrong that possibly could have.
First, the train was 20 minutes late coming into Richmond. Then there were minor delays. That put us into Union Station well after 5:30. So what? Still an hour to get there the requisite two hours ahead of time. Well, okay, but what we hadn't taken into account is, the hours between 3:00 and 7:00 or so are no time to be traveling anywhere within 25 miles of Washington, DC.
We asked our way, found the Metro, and had someone show us how to buy the tickets from the vending machine. It isn't self-explanatory as it is in other major cities around the world. Someone had told us to change trains at l'Enfant Plaza, where we could catch a bus to Dulles. Yeah, well, but by now the time has somehow crept up to well after six, with all the asking and the slow moving because all the baggage, including two big pieces, necessitated finding and using elevators instead of escalators. We missed a train or two that way.
Someone told us that in the rush hour traffic, the bus would take forever to get to Dulles International. Two fellow passengers agreed our best bet would be to go all the way to Vienna, the end of the line, and catch a cab from there. We thought so, foo.
But by the time we arrived at Vienna (with three delays), paid more money because our tickets had only been good for one stop instead of a gaillion, and got outside and hailed a cab, it was seven-thirty. "How long to Dulles?" we asked the cabbie.
He shrugged. "If the traffic is good, 25 minutes. If not - " we said just get us there as fast as humanly possible.
The traffic was horrible. Made worse by torrents of rain. Stupid storm. It was right overhead, and - no exaggeration - we took a direct hit by lightning! That's okay in a car; it's grounded. But still, it's a bit unnerving. If I hadn't just cut off all my fingernails the day before, I'd've bitten them off during that agonizing ride.
Eight o'clock was when we stepped out of the cab. Quick, quick, find the Iceland Air desk to check our luggage and get boarding passes. Run to Security. LONG line. Time: when we were putting our shoes back on: 8:20. Departure time: 8:25.
We sprinted far down the concourse, as fast as two old people can with heavy carry-on bags. Hurry, hurry, hurry, out of breath, our literal and figurative hearts pounding, all the way to Gate 31. Anybody still there? Yup. Everybody. The same storm that had helped delay us had, of course, also delayed our flight.
Libbie, just so you know, we loved Iceland Air. But next time we do this, which God grant, we are going to spend the previous night nearby.