Our flight left at about 10:30am PST and we made a stop in San Diego where we didn’t get off since we were going on to Houston. Our emcee flight attendant was hilarious, at one point letting us know that someone who had gotten off the plan at SFO had forgotten his wallet, and so asked that we check the pockets on the seats in front of us to see if it was there, and also to check for trash. One of the passengers across the aisle from us leaned over and told me that he was just kidding about the wallet and it was his clever ploy to help them clean the plane. He totally fooled me. Jason and I spent most of the time listening to “A Storm of Swords” to pass the time. I got the window seat down to San Diego. When we landed in San Diego, and after the count was made for those of us staying on the plane, we got to move up to the front of the plane. Jason took the window seat this time and we got an unobstructed view outside the window. I think it was the first time I haven’t sat over the wing.
We had our layover in Houston for about two hours. Being used to SFO I was surprised at how linear it was, it made it seem really small, being able to look to the end in both directions. We ate at the Wendy’s in the food court and made our way to the terminal, only about a hundred yards away. It wasn’t long until we were allowed to board the plane. We were part of the “A group,” who gets to board after the wheelchair bound and the families with young children. We got nice seats again and didn’t have to sit over the wing.
The light was fast fading and soon the ground was nothing but a blanket of black with some lights flung out in sparse patches. As the plane circled D.C., I tried to pick out familiar landmarks. I thought I had found the Washington Monument and the Capitol but couldn’t be sure. We soon landed and shuffled out of the plane. The first thing I noticed as I stepped onto the boarding arm was the humidity. It was almost 11pm and it was oppressive. I welcomed the air conditioning once we set foot in the airport. It was strange to walk past the security section and not see lines of people waiting to walk through the metal detector in stocking or bare feet. Everything seemed hushed in anticipation. We made our way to the baggage claim to wait with everyone else for the great machine to take life and spit out our belongings.
As we waited, I thought I heard someone yell “Jazz” (a nickname I still find unsuited for Jason and don’t particularly care for). It wasn’t until they changed it to “Jason” did they really get our attention. They came over, hugged, officially introduced themselves and then stood with us to await the bags. A few bags look very similar to ours and we almost grabbed them. Finally one of the bags emerged and we knew the other should be close behind. The machine kept moving but no bags were appearing. Finally it shut off but we were still a bag short, the bag with all our clothes and my toiletries. A airport staff member asked if we were missing a bag, and when we confirmed that we were, he had us follow him into the baggage claim office. He took down our info and told us we could buy up to $50 worth to be reimbursed. He gave us two toiletry bags and let us know that if our bag wasn’t delivered by the next day, we could call the airport and get approval to spend more than $50. We rolled out to the car and made our way to WalMart.
Jason and I found acceptable clothing and only spent $33. We hopped back into the car and made it to the house where the rest of the party was waiting. Everyone else (and by that I mean Indy, who came all the way from New Zealand, and David who came from Canada) had already arrived. We gathered in the kitchen and made introductions again. Pizzas were in the oven and when they were ready I gratefully consumed two pieces. We stayed up and chatted for some time before finally headed to bed. Jason and I were lucky enough to get a room with an air mattress (Nick was relegated to the couch in the living room and David and Chris slept on cots in the basement). We had made it to Virginia and, besides the missing bag, arrived in one piece.