Tag: Arlington

USMC War Memorial

USMC War Memorial

Arlington, Virginia – December 26, 2014

The day after Christmas, I decided to make a sunrise pilgrimage to the United States Marine Corps War Memorial. My hotel was close, so it was a short walk.
I arrived before the sun, so the memorial was devoid of other tourists. It was serene, beautiful, and moving. I thought of Stan a lot as I walked around, silently thanking him for his service.
As the horizon began to light up, one could see the Washington Monument and the Capitol building in the distance. I braced for the sunrise.
Standing so close to the memorial, and mere steps from Arlington National Cemetery, one feels the incredible sacrifice which has been made to keep this country free.

Inscription on the west side of the memorial.
Inscription marking the Korea conflict.
Inscription marking the Vietnam war.
View of the memorial from directly underneath.
The inscription on the east side of the memorial.
This panel describes the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. The memorial is based on that famous photograph.
The sun began to peek above the horizon.
The memorial illuminated in the first rays of morning light.
A closer view of the memorial.
One can almost feel the effort of the Marines hoisting the colors.
The morning sun at the base of the memorial illuminates the inscription on the west side with a light flare; “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”
The sun had risen above the trees enough to fully illuminate the memorial.
A closer view of the memorial.
The detail of the memorial is amazing to behold.
The sunburst adds a nice touch to the memorial.
The sun seems to be in the hands of the Marines.

On my walk back to the hotel, I walked through a bit of the Rosslyn area of Arlington to take some photographs. Once I returned to my apartment, I took a few more photos from my terrace. Then it was siesta time.

A very quiet Highway 50 beside the memorial.
North Meade Street leading back into the Rosslyn area of Arlington.
A dome on one of the buildings on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington.
A wider view of the construction site and the surrounding area.
A pile of rubble illuminated by the morning sun at a construction site in Arlington.
Cupid’s Garden sculpture by Christopher Gardner (1994).
A side view of Cupid’s Garden sculpture by Christopher Gardner (1994).
Chair at Starbucks.
A very pink trash truck in Arlington.
An American Eagle jet over some of the buildings in the Rosslyn area on the final approach to Reagan National Airport.
An early December morning visit to the United States Marine Corps War Memorial. The Washington Monument and the Capitol are visible in the distance.

Heading Out…Again

Arlington, Virginia – January 4, 2015

I woke up today at about 04:00, even though my alarm was not due to rouse me until 05:00. I got myself ready and walked to Mass at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Arlington. The round trip to the church is just under three miles.
After Mass, I walked across the street to the Silver Diner. I had a fantastic breakfast of corned beef hash, country potatoes, a biscuit, and a cup of coffee. Luckily, I am concerned about my weight; because if not, I could eat that for breakfast every day!
I was only able to extend my checkout to noon. When I returned to the room, I finished my packing and waited. I stalled because my flight to Frankfurt, Germany departed at 21:55. My stalling ended at about 11:30 with the arrival of my taxi.
It always amazes me how expensive it is to take a taxi from the Rosslyn area of Arlington to Dulles International Airport. Since traffic was so light, my fare came to about $60. I arrived at noon. I leisurely checked in for my flight and made my way to the gate to begin my ten-hour wait.
The area of the airport in which I found myself only had one “dining” selection, Potbelly Sandwich Shop. I had hoped for a Chili’s or T.G.I. Fridays… nope. Oh well, at least it was food.
The terminal began “awakening” at about 17:00, as several flights for European destinations cued for departure. My gate changed to C1, no big deal, only one away from my original. The flight immediately before mine serviced Amsterdam. That plane pushed away from the gate at about 19:00. The aircraft for Frankfurt arrived at 20:00. I inaccurately thought that cleared the way for an on-time departure for my flight.
My boarding pass showed a boarding time of 21:10. At nearly 22:00, the gate attendant announced that the pilot had become “illegal.” We were not to worry because the call had gone out at 21:15 for a replacement pilot. This all translated into a departure of about 23:30. I guess I should be happy with that since the flight across the concourse canceled at about the same time for similar reasons, resulting in some incredibly upset travelers. My concern centered on the 1:40 window I had for catching my connecting flight with Leslie out of Frankfurt.
In-flight, our tailwind ranged from 120 mph to 150 mph. With that good fortune, we did make up some time en-route.
Regardless, when the plane stopped at our “gate” in Frankfurt, I was down to about 25 minutes to make the connecting flight. The quotes around the word gate indicate the plane stopped at a parking spot on the tarmac. All passengers faced a climb down a jet ladder followed by boarding a bus. It was disheartening to be so close yet so far. My optimism quickly faded as I realized I had to wait patiently for all of my fellow passengers to disembark the suddenly gigantic Boeing 777, board the waiting buses, and then drive to the terminal. Of course, arriving at the terminal was a starting point for me.
I walked down the stairs to the tarmac and squeezed into a small, standing-room-only spot on the middle bus. It seemed as though the doors to the bus would never close. Once closed, the bus began a somewhat circuitous trip to a terminal entry point. Once inside, with my carry-on in tow, I ran to the passport control area. Luckily, I could use the diplomatic line. The man in the booth asked for my destination as he took the passport I offered him. I told him, he looked at the passport and handed it back to me so the next leg of my marathon could start.
Shortly after landing, Leslie texted me to tell me my departure gate, A52. She encouraged me to continue the race. She knew I could make it to the “finish line.” So, I soldiered on, trying to watch the signs intently, although I was mentally and physically fatigued.
Suddenly, I found myself in a security line. Luckily, not many people had arrived at that point yet. I diligently put all of my items on the conveyor belt to go through the x-ray machine. In my carry-on for this particular trip, were several electronic items, including a router, some external hard drives, and a scale I use for weighing my bags before traveling. In my foggy stupor, I grabbed my items from the bins in which I placed my belongings and began to dash down the hallway. In a few steps, I realized I had forgotten my carry-on. I doubled back in time to see my carry-on stopped by one of the security personnel. He began asking all sorts of questions about the contents. I opened the bag and pulled out the items, explaining the function of each. He placed those items separately in a bin and sent them through the x-ray machine again. When the container emerged again, he picked up the scale and told me they needed to do some additional testing on that item. I re-packed my carry-on and followed him to a nearby room.
In the room, I saw equipment commonly used to detect explosive residue. Unfortunately, the man operating the machine did not show a particular sense of urgency. I stood there with the other security officer for what seemed an interminable amount of time. Finally, the sloth-like creature tended to my scale. After another minute or so, they told me to proceed.
As I continued to follow signs to A52, I had to ride an elevator one floor down. My morale bottomed out when I exited the elevator and saw the distance of the hallway that ran under a tarmac from one concourse to another. I saw there were two very long moving sidewalks; but of course, the first one heading in my direction was inoperable. I began to run. It seemed as if the faster I ran, the longer the distance became. It seemed as though I was in a movie. I finally reached the second moving sidewalk. I continued to run on the moving path. At the end of the moving walkway, there was another elevator trip to the main concourse level.
Emerging on the main concourse level, I was in an extensive shopping area. I continued to run, following the signs, or so I thought. I missed a sign indicating a left turn. I discovered my error when I suddenly faced signs pointing to the C concourse. I immediately doubled back and corrected my mistake. Now heading in the correct direction, I caught a glimpse of A52. There were still four moving sidewalks between my goal and me. Nearing the end of the final moving sidewalk, I could see the gate. I also saw a plane being pushed from the gate. My heart sank two floors below. Approaching the gate agents, panting and sweating, I dejectedly told them I had just missed my flight to Frankfurt instead of waiting for them to break that bad news to me. Much to my surprise, they said to me that it was not my plane. They directed me down a set of stairs to wait for a bus.
At the door at the bottom of the stairs, I waited for about five minutes with another ten or eleven passengers. The bus arrived, loaded the passengers, and began another circuitous drive around the tarmac. Suddenly, I saw the very same Boeing 777 from which I disembarked in what seemed to have been hours ago. About five or six parking spaces from that plane, the bus stopped at the base of a set of stairs leading to the plane for my next flight. I found it somewhat ironic how close I was to the Tallinn plane when my plane from Virginia parked.
I walked up the stairs to board the plane. As soon as I began down the center aisle, Leslie spotted me. She had a massive smile on her face. It seemed that as soon as I stowed my carry-on and sat down, the plane began to taxi.
Whew! I had made it with mere seconds to spare!

Return to the U.S.A.

Arlington, Virginia – November 5, 2014

I departed the Marriott Hotel at a leisurely 08:55, quite odd compared to my previous airline flights. By 09:15, the driver deposited me at the Tegucigalpa Toncontín International Airport. By 10:10, I found myself at Gate 3, waiting for my flight to Houston. Before arriving at the gate, the authorities required me to obtain a piece of paper indicating I paid my departure tax. A quick fingerprint and photograph, and I made it through the “gauntlet.”

I did find it interesting that one must walk through the duty-free store to access the concourse.

While sitting in the waiting area, a national police officer and a young person approached the gate agent. At first, I thought the young person was traveling alone, for some reason escorted by the police officer. I chalked it up to an odd way to get a solo minor onto the plane. As I came to find out later, the person was not a minor. The person sat on the other side of the plane, one row ahead of me. At one point, the person overreached for something. When that happened, I saw a holster and pistol in the middle of the person’s back. The person was very obviously an Air Marshal. I had never witnessed that before. That particular person as an Air Marshal surprised me. I have purposely kept the description of that person very vague.

About 25 minutes after the scheduled departure time, the plane pushed back from the gate. Nearly three hours later the plane landed in Houston.

At about 21:45 the plane arrived at Reagan National Airport. Within ten minutes, I had my luggage. I thought it would take much longer to arrive at the airport and longer still to get my luggage. Because of those thoughts, inaccurate as they were, I had decided to cancel my hotel room in the D. C. area. That decision also centered on the very early flight I had scheduled for the following morning. I thought I would be lucky to get a few hours’ sleep. I did not want to pay $200 for a little rest. Since it suddenly seemed I would have more time, I decided to take a cab to the hotel. Arriving at the hotel, I discovered there were no rooms at the inn. There was some conference in progress. I sat in the bar until it closed. Then I found a comfortable chair in the lobby. At 04:30, I hailed a cab and returned to the airport.

It began to rain somewhat hard as I waited to board the plane to Salt Lake City. Once onboard, after the door closed, there was a lengthy wait to push back from the gate. Finally, we pushed back. Typically, after a push back, the plane sits while the pilots start the engines. I could tell one of the engines started quickly. Then I noticed an odd smell of fuel in the aircraft. Shortly after that, the pilot announced they were unable to start the number two engine. The pilots planned to have the plane pulled back to the gate. There an external device could help start the engine.

Much to the chagrin of all passengers, back at the gate, the engine did not start. The pilot announced a maintenance crew should arrive shortly to install a new part. With all of the delays, I was already going to miss my connection from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction. Therefore, I decided to get off the plane and make other arrangements. I moved from Delta to American. The flight was due to leave in the afternoon, heading to Dallas.

Later that afternoon, as I waited in the gate area, I could tell the flight was full. My zone printed on my boarding pass was Zone 4, that last group to board. Since I had so many electronics in my carry-on, I did not want to have to check my carry-on. I wished to avoid the rough handling and the cold temperatures of the cargo hold, so I decided to plead my case to the gate agent–bad idea. She could have cared less. She told me she would not allow me to board sooner.

Back at my seat in the gate area, I began to take some of the most sensitive items out of my carry-on. I took the “lighter” carry-on back to the gate agent and said I would check the bag. She “gave up” and said it was OK to board with those in Zone 1. I returned to my seat and re-packed the bag.

When it was time to board, I stood near the boarding area to be sure I would be one of the first in Zone 1 to board. The agent announced that any first-class passengers could board, followed by the announcement for any uniformed military members to board. I expected those. Then came the following boarding groups:

  • Those needing extra time to board
  • Platinum members
  • Gold members
  • Priority members
  • Those that wished they were platinum, gold, or priority members
  • Anyone that had ever heard of Christmas
  • Anyone who may have taken a breath of oxygen lately
  • Anyone that would like to board ahead of Zone 1 passengers

By the time I boarded, I knew there was no hope that I would be able to stow my bag. Sure enough, I got on the plane with no overhead bin space available. I then fought my way “upstream” with my bag so I could check the bag.

Luckily the flight to Dallas was uneventful. After 37-hours, I made it from Tegucigalpa to Grand Junction!

Heading to DC

Heading to DC

Arlington, Virginia – September 15, 2013

Today I had one of those flights that just went like clockwork. The flight on the small regional jet from Grand Junction began boarding at 06:05 and pushed back at 06:36. Runway 11 was the choice to leave the Grand Junction airport. The duration of the flight was a short 1:49.
During the descent to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, the plane went directly over Texas Motor Speedway. I remember how impressed I was when I went to that track for the inaugural race. It is every bit as impressive from the air.
The plane made it to the gate in the B Concourse at about 09:40 local time. My flight to Washington National was due to depart at 11:00. By the time I finished my walk to the gate, I only had about 15 minutes to wait before boarding began. After boarding, to my surprise, the doors were closed, and the plane pushed back two minutes early!
Departing on runway 17R, one could easily see the new Arlington Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. After a few turns, the plane went directly over downtown Dallas and the Cotton Bowl. Then it was merely a matter of gaining altitude and heading toward DC.
On the descent to Washington National, the plane went directly over Dulles International.
The landing was uneventful. Getting my baggage was uneventful. Getting a taxi was uneventful. Before I knew it, I was relaxing at my hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
I was in Arlington for a week of training. After hours, I took the opportunity to document what I saw as I walked around. Some of those photos follow.

Looking north along Nash Street in Arlington, Virginia.
The pedestrian bridge over Nash Street.
Art and reflections along Nash Street.
The pedestrian bridge crosses Nash Street just south of Turnberry Tower.
The pedestrian bridge as seen from street level.
Turnberry Tower.
Looking toward Healy Hall on Georgetown University in Washington, D. C.
Lighting in Gateway Park in Arlington, Virginia. The Washington Monument is in the distance.
Fort Meyer Drive and Lee Highway in Arlington, Virginia.
Gateway Park looking toward Healy Hall.
Knitted and crocheted tree art along Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.
A pedestrian walking past the tree art.
Close to quitting time in Arlington.
The moon rising over Arlington.
Last-minute deliveries at the close of the business day.
Working overtime in Arlington.
An airplane taking off from Reagan National Airport flies over Arlington.
Wilson Boulevard and Fort Meyer Drive.
Arlington in the late afternoon.
The Commonwealth Tower in Arlington.

At the end of my training, it was time to head back to Georgetown, Guyana. Getting to Reagan National Airport was very uneventful.
Getting to Miami International airport was also very uneventful. Then began the “walk!”
I arrived at Concourse D. I had to walk to Concourse J to be able to check-in for my Caribbean Airlines flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. When I finally made it to the ticket counter, it was about 10:50. There was a family already there waiting. They had just returned from a cruise. They must have been away from home for months — they had more luggage than one could count!
There were no agents at the ticket counter. I looked at the monitor above the desk. It indicated check-in would begin at 11:30. As the family and I waited, security personnel for the airline started “building” the rope line for the cue to the counter. I watched 11:30 come and go. No airline employees showed. Finally, at about 11:50, the agents arrived with a cart full of supplies. They spent the next 15 minutes setting up the counter; placing luggage tags, staplers, flowers, etc.
I ultimately received my boarding pass and went through security. Once in the concourse, I went straight to the food court. There is a McDonald’s there; I could not resist. That was the first time I had eaten at McDonald’s in many, many months. It tasted pretty darn good!
From the food court, I made it to my gate and ultimately onto the plane. Then it was off to Port of Spain.
Upon arrival at the gate at Port of Spain, I stood up like all of the other passengers and retrieved my one carry-on bag. As I stood there waiting for the plane door to open so we could disembark, I heard a shocking announcement by the flight attendant. She said those passengers destined for Georgetown did not have to get off the plane!
I could not believe what I had just heard! I have gone through Port of Spain seven different times; this is the first time I did not have to get off the plane, go through their airport security, and then get back on the same flight. It was a bonus!
Not long after that, we were back in the air on our way to Georgetown. Another 45 minutes and I was finally home!