Sunday, 10 November 2013

Queueing up for an American Adventure.

I'm on the road again, and it feels great to be exploring somewhere new. It's only for two weeks – so it's short and sweet – though with 6 flights and over 2,500 miles to drive in that time, perhaps some of the way will be long and bitter. Yesterday I flew to Nashville, via Washington DC. I'm travelling to the States with my friend Mark, who I used to work with at the paper, and meeting my housemate Matt in Las Vegas tomorrow, before picking up a car and driving back to Nashville.

The planned route of our road trip – it may change as we go.
Mark and I were meant to arrive in Nashville for early evening, having left London Heathrow at noon the same day. Our United Airlines flight was late getting into Washington; then we were forced to queue like cattle for immigration and customs for well over an hour, to be quizzed by a bored Border Officer for 30 seconds, during which time I lied to him. Twenty minutes into that first queue, our connecting flight to Nashville left. Oh well, we were powerless to change the outcome so there's no point in trying. We spent the next three or so hours in more queues. Queues that wound round themselves like a bored and frustrated snake and then round corners, like a joke. Once they were certain we weren't carrying any bombs or any water – the latter in case we wanted to drown the pilots for a hijacking – we joined a customer service queue to sort out the connecting flight fuck up. Another hour passed. Half the staff left their desks and weren't replaced as their shifts finished, the winding and grumbling queue progressed at an even slower rate. I wasn't left with a good impression of United. First of all those terrorist attacks 12 years ago, then the food wasn't that good, and now this. Once we reached the desk, we were informed we were already on the next flight to Nashville at 9.55pm. We had a few hours now, so sat in a mock English pub and smirked at loud Americans, while eating a much needed burger and necked an even greater necessity - a pint of Guinness.

The flight from Washington Dulles to Nashville (taken on my HTC One).
The final flight was cramped and the cabin was tiny, I was sat towards the front and I could see the pilots and all their sticks and buttons who weren't protected behind any security doors, which is surprising in this day and age. If there had been a hijacking though, I wouldn't have known anything about it. I was asleep before the plane was in the air and didn't wake up until the wheels were back on the ground a smooth hour later, so who knows what mid-air dramas unfolded. A red-eyed Danny Dyer to play me in the movie. I'd had three hours sleep in two days, and was rather tired. Upon arriving in Nashville airport, with its brown early 90s interior and country music piped through the speakers, my eyes felt like sandpaper. We jumped in a cab and drove the 5 minutes along empty highways to our airport motel and pretty much headed straight to bed. Our plans of a big night out in Nashville to kick-off our trip had been punctured by the travel delay and weariness of queues. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, as the next night will be in Vegas, and surely I'll need my shut-eye for that.

Our midnight motel was in a thrilling location.

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