Saturday, January 23, 2016

MLK Day and Jonas bookmarked my Washington Archival trip

I got away from Washington DC and superstorm Jonas just in time ----all thanks to the kindness of many strangers!

For days, american-run airlines were offering waivers of normal travel change fees for people in the path of superstorm Jonas, particularly in the epicentre of southern Maryland, where I was staying while conducting research on wartime penicillin at the nearby NARA II archives.

But my airline on my return trip home was Air Canada and it was not so kind ---- despite my departure time being 4pm Friday, well into the time that snow would start coming down real hard.

I had already lost one vital day of archival research at NARA II from a short five day trip.

I hadn't realized until I had booked flights and hotel rooms that the federal holiday honoring the memory of MLK  was on Monday January 18th.

 Now Jonas was effectively closing up NARA II for researchers at the week's end as well.

However, the unexpected ability to use my ipad mini to freely photograph interesting archival texts had greatly speeded up the researching process - being both more detailed and far more accurate than whatever handwritten notes I could normally quickly scrawl.

So on Friday I got up real early and walked the half hour over to the Greenbelt metro subway, terminus of Washington's Green Line.

This subway terminus is metro Washington's closest subway stop to Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) metro Washington's third and best-run international airport.

There is a special Metrobus express, the B30, that runs from Greenbelt to BWI: very fast, very cheap and stopping at all of the big airport's far flung concourses.

It is a vital part of the best and cheapest way to fly in and out of metro Washington.

I needed to get the earliest B30, if I could hope to get a standby on the early 10am AC flight home from BWI.

Waited and waited and waited, along with a fellow B30 potential customer named Jason, wondering why it was so overdo.

Then Jason checked the very fine print on his app - yes the top news story on the Metro bus and subway system was that subway trains would run from 5am to 11pm on Friday, snowstorm or not  but far less well reported was that the fact that the only buses running would be on 'major' arteries.

The vital B30 bus link for people hoping to get outa the storm's path was not considered to run on a major artery.

No B30 and now I am really stuck.

A taxi - if one could get one, would be at least $100 American - and while there was a cheap fast MARC rail link from Greenbelt to Baltimore, it didn't stop anywhere near BWI.

But Jason had used Uber before and got lucky - a woman named Frieda had just turned on her Uber readiness and was very very near by.

He offered to share his Uber ride with me.

Thanks to Freida, we got there fast and smooth, right up to the AC desk even, and only cost me $17 !

Thank you Jason and Freida so very much !

The ladies at BWI Air Canada were equally nice and got me a standby on the 10am flight to Toronto and even overlooked me ignoring my callout (I had never gone standby before and didn't understand the process.)

In Toronto, more AC ladies guided me through the process, urging me to run run run, to get onto a very lucky second early flight, this time to Halifax.

Lucky for me and many other standbys from the storm belt at least - because this plane was one hour late coming in from Halifax, allowing us to make the connection.

Strong headwinds generated from far off Jonas was the explanation, because with those winds now behind us, we flew to Halifax in record time - literally, according to various flight trackers apps !

Finally, at Halifax Stanfield airport, I lacked the additional Canadian loonie coin needed to make up the fare for the airport bus to downtown Halifax.

My paper US one dollar bills won't work in the machine, but the driver kindly overlooked the extra dollar and gave me a ride and a nice familiar blue transfer.

I made it home about the same time I should still be on the tarmac in BWI's ever-deepening snow....


Postscript : the Nor'Easter left NYC Saturday night and soon headed north east, just brushing the Atlantic coastal communities of my native Nova Scotia.

In central Halifax I saw very little new snow - but my dad is very exposed to the direct Atlantic winds in his part of Seaforth NS and got much more of Jonas's remnants....

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