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Cat Air

Alice in Maryland: Day 0

My journey to Heathrow (by overground to Clapham Junction, train to Feltham and bus to Terminal 5) went so well that I was too early to check in my suitcase and had to sit guarding it for 45 minutes. I discovered that I'd been assigned a seat right in the middle of the 767's 2-3-2 configuration, boarded the plane, and spent seven hours reading my Kindle, watching a selection of sitcoms and kiddie movies courtesy of the inflight entertainment system, and periodically checking the Your Journey section to track our progress west.

Gosh, arriving in the US is a pain, isn't it? I spent three-quarters of an hour in a queue, worriedly awaiting my turn to reveal why I was visiting, what I did for a living, and how much cash I'd brought with me. Bright spots were the very handsome sniffer dogs on patrol (German Shepherd, black Labrador, and beagle), and the security lady who saw my Vespa bag and told me her brother had had one of those in the late '60s.

By the time I emerged, clutching my suitcase, I was a little anxious about locating someone I'd met in person once, in a huge airport. Rick, however, had been following the live flight information and was waiting and waving. Soon I was ensconced in his pickup truck and heading down the darkened interstate, thrilled by the American-ness of the road signs, the huge, shiny lorries, and the exits for places called Buckeystown and [Don't Go Back To] Rockville.

An hour later I was welcomed by Rick's wife Lori, Sugar the whippet and Alf the hairless Sphynx cat ("And when Mr Bigglesworth gets upset, PEOPLE DIE!"). I was fed, I sent a couple of emails reporting my safe arrival, and I went to bed at what would have been 4:30 in the morning at home, but was a perfectly reasonable half past eleven in Maryland.

Things I Ate
Assorted airline cuisine (including a main course of hot pasta with a starter of cold pasta, well done guys). Homemade soup and pineapple upside-down cake.

Sugar the whippet


Aww, Sugar sure lives up to her (?) name; she's a sweet thing. :)

Heh, you really have to wonder just how they manage to make airline food as bad as it often is, don't you? At least the homemade soup and pineapple upside-down cake sound lovely. (MMMMm, pineapple cake.)

And yeah, I agree about entering the USA, even as a tourist — it's a right pain in the tail. At least the country proper usually makes up for it with its hospitality. :)
Oh, absolutely! Customs uses up all the hostility you'll see for a week.

Shugs is adorable, isn't she? She has super-soft fur, too.
Oh, neat, I didn't know you were over here!
I grew up in McLean, VA and my dad spent a good part of his career working in Rockville.
Coming up to NYC?
Ah, sorry, back home now and writing a retrospective!

I thought I'd do all kinds of DC and NYC tourism, but spent most of the holiday just chilling out in rural Mt Airy. And it was GREAT.
Sounds nice!
A fair amount of this feels familiar, but I look forward to living it again - possibly even living it for the first time again - through you and your writing!
Heh - enjoy!
I applaud the title of this post.
I thought of it before I left and I have been hoarding it all this time!
Homeland Security is fun. I got taken to the dark room in Chicago as somebody with my name was a wanted man! Not very long though, apparently he looked nothing like me!
Yikes!! I was terrified that I'd say something daft, or get in trouble for smuggling a £5 tin of M&S shortbread into the country, but I seem to have got away with it.
I love your travel writing, even though I never comment, but Sugar the whippet is so lovely I just had to tell her! I hope we see more of her. :)
I also would love to see the hairless cat, if you are taking requests.
I will line up a hairless cat pic! He was very odd to look at and touch.
Welcome to USAia! Glad you had a smooth ride once you actually got into the country.

Last time I crossed the border, they said they only needed my thumb as they had the other fingerprints, so I guess they know me pretty well by now. o_o

When coming in as a tourist back in ~2004, I got held for secondary screening because I only had $40. Obviously, they wanted to be sure I wasn't trying to work here illegally, but it's weird that they're still doing that - doesn't everyone use debit or credit cards nowadays?
I was concerned about having to declare the value of all the goods I'd brought in, too. I am a notorious international chocolate smuggler.
I didn't have nearly as much trouble getting into the U.S. as I did getting into the U.K., but then I was a returning citizen and not some suspicious ferner.

Yes, I am worried about what's happening to our national character here. -.-

I was comparing the waiting time slightly unfavourably with the UK's, but then I remembered that I live there, which does speed things up.

The rest of the EU generally just waves me through, too. Which is lucky because I have no idea how to say "I am a web developer" in Italian!
But then, Italian's as much a matter of sign language as spoken words anyway, ne? =:)