Richmond, Va

Haven’t done a travel story in some time.

This weekend found me at a wedding somewhat south of the motherland (Northern Va), in Richmond. The area in that part of the country has a number of fantastically beautiful winery venues, and this one was was spectacularly so, with a view of the James River.

Richmond is an old city, literally heart of the confederacy. It’s Capital, as a matter of fact and appears to be free of the locust infestation that you’d expect, especially from Northern Virginia. The VRE stops in Fredericksburg, so I think it’s sort of a natural boundry. Either that or they are keeping the ick contained.

It’s a nice city, like many I’ve visited in the country. People are friendly. They wave when you pass by or say “Hi”.

It’s a place I’d move to if I were fleeing from Texas. They need to fix their blue issues in that state. If you want to read more, Eric Peters has pieces from time to time on just how large the disconnect is between Northern Virginia and the rest of the state. They have the same problem as California. There’s a deeply embedded lefty blue caste up there, and it’s huge. Their population dictates a lot of what happens to the rest of state.

The attractive thing about Richmond for me is it’s location. It’s a short ride to the Blue Ridge mountains. A short ride to the Chesapeake, and a moderate ride to the beach. It also has a scenic river. So there’s tons to do around the area. Some of the nicest day rides you’re gonna get on a motorcycle or convertible. I’d be on Skyline drive or Blue Ridge parkway any given weekend when I lived in the motherland.

Enough of that. Let’s get to the good parts. The angry bits.

I flew up earlier than Herself. We split, primarily because I was using points and she was using a companion fare to go with my daughter, who needed to leave later than me. I had no interest in arriving late at night. I myself flew up Thursday afternoon and picked up some wheel’s to get to my brother’s place. When I got to DFW, I had maybe half a dozen in line ahead of me in security. The terminal was blissfully uncrowded.

That didn’t last. Within the hour, the whole terminal went third world crowded and crazy.

The flight, of course, was on American. Non-Stop. Ass and elbows with the unwashed amatuers. It was extremely crowded and loaded extremely slow. This makes me nuts. Get on the plane, stow your shit, and sit. How hard is that? Lot of handicapped old timers needing help. A lot of big people. The travel gods weren’t smiling at me this time, as they stuffed my row with two other big dudes. Younger, more fit than me, but also bigger. Nicht gut.

To their credit, American pulled it off. We left on time, and landed a bit early. Unloading wasn’t any faster. I don’t get it. WHEN IT’S YOUR TURN, stand up, get your shit, and git. How hard can it be?

I waddled to Avis to score my car. And like any small airport, they have the Preferred kiosk out in the garage, where you have to stand in line to get your keys from an indifferent staff member, read into that what you will. They gave me what I rented, a Mitsubishi SUV.

A filthy Mitsubishi SUV that stunk of BO, had stained seats, and a grimy windshield, the inside of which looked like it was wiped down with sweaty underpants. Clearly they’re done with “We Try Harder“. I had a choice; go back to LaCretia and pick a fight, which would surely happen, or suck it up and clean the windshield on the road. I picked the latter. It’s been my experience with Avis of late that I’d be told tough shit, it’s that or nothing.

I will search out the manager of customer belly rubs to send a strongy worded letter. For kicks, mind you. I don’t give two shits what they say. I’ve only been a loyal customer for 30 years or so, renting hundreds of cars. I also have a Hertz account, and I will now open a National one. I used them as my second choice in the past. I didn’t care for them much then but they were a far cry from how bad Avis is now and I have friends that sing their praises. So, screw Avis, I’m off to greener pastures.

I got to my brother’s place and we headed off to dinner, then to an Irish pub with an amazing trivia night. It was 80s trivia, so I should have done well. But who the hell knows the name of the one hit wonder band Till Tuesday’s singer for chrissakes?

Turns out, my Brother’s friend did. And as it was a per table affair we did our ancestors proud and vanquished the competition. It was cool to meet a bunch of his friends that I haven’t seen in decades.

Far as a the wedding goes, it was a nice affair. Second one I’ve posted to up there in my family. If I’m allowed a lamentation, I prefer the older ceremonies. Call me old fashioned, I think “…to have and to hold, from this day
forward, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others until death do us part.” is kind of an important thing to include in a vow.

Meh..Must be a Catholic thing. Much of my family up there no longer is.

Sunday, It was time to pull the eject lever and head back home. The plan was to attend mass where my brother and nephew were singing, hit lunch, then go to the airport. Now, with a 1.5 hour window to get that done, and a 20 minute, at least, trip to the airport, we were bumping up on my comfort factor for exiting a city. First two venues we picked were closed. There’s four cars, and seven people texting figuring out what to do. 1/2 hour into this my brother pulled the bail chain, said goodbye and we headed to the airport. Our two kids, on the same flight found an open pho place and stopped there. My brother and nephew ended up meeting them.

We were now well outside my comfort factor for the return trip. Keep in mind, when heading to the airport, it’s not the flight time, it’s the boarding time, usually 1/2 hour earlier. I’ve made my mistakes over the hundreds of flights I’ve taken. I’ve had my scrambling to the airport, finding clogged up car returns and long security lines. More than I can say, I’ve made it to the gate just as my group was boarding. Sometimes, I’ve just made it just before they shut the door.

Nowadays, that’s nuts. The way it works now, 10 minutes before the doors close your seat is gone.

So my and my wife were 2 1/2 hours early. So what?

There was no one in line at security. We breezed through.

The airport was lightly peopled.

We walked to the gate, found a brew pub restaurant and had lunch. Sticky tables, and dirty floors notwithstanding, I had a perfectly reasonable grilled chicken caeser salad. Although, if I may say, a caeser salad doesn’t have a lettuce mix, and doesn’t use italian dressing.

Eventually we camped at the gate and did some phone charging as the airport filled to a normal crowded stupid level with the kids nowhere in sight. Our kids posted three minutes before boarding. I myself had had enough, and simply walked to my hover space where I could hit my group when it was called.

As I got settled, I watched the boarding, every bit as chaotic as the trip out. Very worrying, there were many large people heading down the aisle. Not just big this time, obese. Every one coming down the aisle as I’m praying – dear God, let that challenge pass me by. Eventually my luck ran out, the travel gods laughing this time as they stuffed two other large men into the row. Not fat. Big. Unfortunately, big shouldered, like me. Tough to get comfortable.

Packed as they were, I’m surprised how selfish some of these amatuers are. I watched as several of these jackasses put all their shit in the overhead, taking two or three times the space. I did that too, but keep in mind, I have a medium duffel and a swiss army garment bag that stack together and consume less space than a rollaround.

Again, to AA’s credit, we took off on time and landed early.

I guess it’s enough to expect these days with airlines. Sure they’re ass and elbows, but on time. I can endure that on a sub three hour flight I suppose.

We got to the gate and had to wait on account of us rocking up early. And just like before, every idiot stood up expecting to exit straight away. It was nearly ten minutes before that happened. Probably thirty with some ape’s ass in my face before I got the chance to stand and stretch my back. There was some comic relief as a short, skinny, older asian man was trying to bum rush his way to the front nearly as soon as the plane stopped. Why is anyone’s guess. Probably culture when all is said and done. We were well early enough to hit any connection that one might have.

Too many widebody amatuers in his way, he was stuck and had to wait like the rest of us.

I tried to sqeeze out some schadenfreude to get some enjoyment seeing his plight. But it was all to pathetic for it. So much so, I didn’t bother to video as he tried to manuever back and forth.

The airport terminal was no better than the plane. 6PM on Sunday and DFW Terminal C was super crowded. Absolutely nuts.

We mustered at the gate and headed out to the parking shuttles. For once, literally in years, we only waited about five minutes before our bus rolled up. The airport traffic was shocking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it like that in the whole time I’ve lived here and used that airport. Not even at holidays. Luckily, we were the first off the bus.

So I’m done for some time. Herself wants to travel, but I think I’m done.

I’ll think about it for awhile, and see if my mind changes.