December Recap: Long Journey Home

December 20-21, 2008

For the first time since I've moved to Los Angeles, Rob and I decided to spend Christmas with my family in Virginia. Previously, we've split Christmas with my family in Orange County {Waves "hi" to Janine & Jasmine} and Rob's mom. During one of my visits earlier in the year, my grandma had asked us to come home for Christmas. She said it was the one thing she really wanted for Christmas. When it's worded like that, how could we possibly say "no"?

I was going to fly out to Virginia first. Rob would follow on Christmas day. {He had work obligations}. Due to the holiday rush and to save a significant amount of money, I opted to fly into Washington, D.C. From there, I would take a train to Newport News, VA and my mom would pick me up from the train station after she got off of work. We'd then drive home to Virginia Beach. In theory, this wasn't so bad. A tad long, but doable.

Amtrak Train Interior
photo by Wigman Jones

According to google maps, the distance from our home in L.A. to my Family's home in Virginia Beach is 2357.98 mi. Here's how that turned into the longest trip of my life.

  • 4:00 PM Pacific Time - Leave the house for LAX
  • 4:30 PM Pacific Time - Arrive at the airport. Stand in the crazy airport lines despite checking in online.
  • 6:15 PM Pacific Time - Flight departs for Denver.... 20 Minutes Late due to a delayed inbound flight.
  • 8:50 PM Mountain Time - Flight lands in Denver 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. Sadly, I had a 3 hour layover and all the shops and restaurants at the Denver airport closed at 9:00PM. Thank God for iPhones and the overly-complicated Christmas cards I had to make.
  • 12:00 AM Mountain Time - My original departure time comes and goes. Again, the inbound flight is delayed due to bad weather. Why do they make airport waiting areas so uncomfortable? Don't they realize that people spend A LOT of time waiting around?
  • 1:20 AM Mountain Time - Flight finally leaves Denver. Due to excessive turbulence, I am unable to do my "Pass Out Before Takeoff" trick. I spent my entire flight half-awake, half-asleep. The end result is that groggy hollow feeling.
  • 6:45 AM Eastern Time - Flight arrives at Washington Dulles airport. According to my iPhone, the outside temp is 24º, which is a sharp contrast to the 60º I left behind in L.A. I grab my luggage from baggage claim and scramble to get changed into cleaner and warmer clothes.
  • 7:16 AM Eastern Time - I miss the 7:15 Washington Flyer shuttle to the nearest Metro Station. Next shuttle isn't until 7:45AM
  • 7:30 AM Eastern Time - The first regional train leaves for Newport News, VA. Since I'm still at Dulles and not at Union Station, I have to take the next train to Newport News. The train leaves at 2:30PM
  • 7:45 AM Eastern Time - I board the Washington Flyer Shuttle
  • 8:20 AM Eastern Time - I arrive at the West Falls Church Metro Station.
  • 8:30 AM Eastern Time - I board the Orange line train and get packed in with Rush Hour commuters. Standing Room only.
  • 9:15 AM Eastern Time - After switching metro trains twice, I arrive at Union Station. I've gotten roughly 2 hours sleep and have 5 hours to kill until my train leaves. I check my luggage in with a temporary bag check for the next 3 hours. I try to find a semi-comfortable place to nap.
  • 10:15 AM Eastern Time - The drafty nature of the Amtrak waiting area and the strange characters wandering around cut my nap short. I decide to explore the shops in the mall area of Union Station.
  • 11:00 AM Eastern Time - I find another area to wait that seems to be a tad more conducive for a nap and try to sleep.
  • 12:15 PM Eastern Time - Wrong again. I decide to wander around Union Station and admire its Beaux-Arts architecture. I snap some photos. I also grab a light lunch.
  • 1:00 PM Eastern Time - I retrieve my bag from the temporary bag check and go to the Amtrak waiting area again.
  • 2:30 PM Eastern Time - Original departure time comes and goes again. Delays due to bad weather.
  • 3:15 PM Eastern Time - Train finally leaves the station. I lapse into a coma.
  • 5:45 PM Eastern Time - I awake to make some sad discoveries. The 4 hour 20 minute travel time listed on the Amtrak website is a joke. The train stops at over a dozen stops between D.C. and Newport News. This train between D.C. and Newport News is a regional train, which is radically different from the comfortable train pictured on their website. Picture something that's a half-step up from a Greyhound bus and similar to a Jersey commuter train. Add a bathroom ten times more disgusting any gas station restroom you ever seen. That's what I was trapped on. I opted to go back to sleep.
  • 8:45 PM Eastern Time - The train arrives at the Amtrak station in Newport News. I feel horrifically guilty for making my mom wait for me at the sketchy station I have ever seen. Thank God my mom is a trooper. As consolation, we grab some Chick-a-fila before we hit the road. {'Cuz Chick-a-fila makes everything better}
  • 9:30 PM Eastern Time/6:30 PM Pacific Time - I finally arrive at my parents' house. I say hello to everyone. The look on my grandma's face makes my travel hardship worthwhile. I shower and proceed to sleep for the next 14 hours.
If you read through all of that, kudos to you. If you fell asleep, I don't blame you. Either way as a reward, here are the photos I took of Union Station during my looooonnnnggg layover.

View of the Capitol Building from the Union Station

Outer Facade

Outer Colonnade

Grand Entry

Center Cafe


Grand Christmas Tree





2 more coherent thought(s):

Miss Sapphira said...

wow! that was a really long trip.
btw, how did you dslr get stolen? And sorry to hear about your car. I would have strangled that guy. And I love the holiday cards you created.
can you tell I'm cathing up on all my google reader. =)

Anonymous said...

OK yeah that sucks. but you are right, chick-fil-a DOES make everything better!

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