Thursday, July 17, 2008

Offlede buys real luggage, gets set for Washington

Ready to roll.

I've gone 24 years without purchasing a single piece of baggage meant specifically for travel.

My little airline experience has employed only two backpacks and a canvas bag from L.L. Bean. My road trips have required even less: Those mostly entailed throwing necessities into my car wherever they would fit.

With three flights scheduled within the next three months, I needed some heavy-duty and convenient travel gear. That led me to splurge on one of the most expensive pieces of luggage Walmart carries: a $45, 21-inch upright by American Tourister. It's the kind with wheels, like the ones that loser high school and college kids use to carry books. American Tourister is the classiest brand of baggage Walmart carries, aside from Jeep. But that wasn't going to happen: I'm a Toyota man.

The bag is small enough to be carried onto the plane but big enough for some serious storage. Coupled with a backpack carrying my "personal item," my laptop, it should do the trick.

Speaking about traveling, I should tell you what's in store.

I'm leaving Friday evening on a USA 3000 flight from Melbourne to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for five days in the District of Columbia. For $160 round-trip, I got a real steal, and the closeness of Melbourne International Airport is a plus. A day I don't have to go to Orlando is a good one.

This will be my first vacation since the "Assignment NOLA" trip just before Christmas. I haven't taken a single day off, aside from my usual weekend days.

It will be great to be in D.C. again. The last time I was there I almost wrecked my car, which was loaded with all of my belongings as I was moving to Florida. It's a long story of stupidity that I won't divulge. I'll just try to avoid any mishaps this time.

I'll be staying in Columbia Heights with a bunch of good nonschool friends. They probably won't be happy to see me, as I was notorious for stealing their food while I was a starving graduate student.

Columbia Heights is a neighborhood that has spots of seediness, but it is gentrifying, especially now that it has the District's first Target. But I have to walk from the Georgia Avenue Metro stop to my friends' house, which could get hairy. I'll have my new video camera on me, though, so if anything happens, at least I'll get it on tape. Sweet hits for The Offlede.

Professor W. Joseph Campbell of American University has offered to give me a tour of the Newseum, where he works part time. There, I'll look for misspelled words and any sign that shows the need for or indicates a blatant absence of copy editors. Lawrence Downes' "An Elegy to Copy Editors" in The New York Times was the precipitator of that outrage.

My AU friends also will be paid a visit from yours truly. The School of Communication's master's in journalism program contains about 30 people in each class, so we were a tight gang. Some stayed in D.C. after graduation. They include people who work for U.S. News & World Report, ABC News, the Army Times and Al Jazeera.

I'll also hit up the one monument I never got a chance to gawk at: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

And because of my baggage, I'll be taking my equipment along, so I can document it all.

1 comment:

Wordnerdy said...

American Tourister used to be a good brand. For my college graduation, I requested luggage from my mother. She bought a three-piece set. They were all soft-sided, with plastic corners inside.

After the first trip, those plastic corners started falling apart. After about two years, all three bags were in terrible shape and I gave them to a thrift store. (They were usable, just not as sturdy as I liked.) Mom was as surprised as I was at the shoddy condition.

I want to get a set of all hard-sided luggage, with wheels. But that's tough, now that everything is priced (and made) for a throw-away society.

Have fun. Looking forward to all the photos. Too bad those from the plane don't show more of the land in North Florida.