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Started: 2006-08-11 20:21:36

Submitted: 2006-08-12 12:28:19

Visibility: World-readable

After reading horror stories of epic screening queues at airports nationwide yesterday, I decided to be a bit conservative and show up at DIA two and a half hours before my 1930 flight to Oklahoma City. (Before Thursday, I was wondering if I should show up at 1700 or 1800, the two options provided by RTD's AB bus from Boulder to DIA, which I can ride for free with my employer-funded EcoPass. (I carry the pass on a Kent State University lanyard along with my employer-funded downtown Boulder parking pass -- yin and yang in one handy package.)) Not wishing to take any chances, I opted to board the 1515 bus, which meandered through Boulder, down US 36, stopped at the Stapleton Transfer Station (Stapleton was Denver's old airport, which was replaced by Denver International Airport in 1994), another park-and-ride at Pena Boulevard and I-70, and finally made its way to DIA. The whole thing took one hour and forty-five minutes -- longer than my flight -- but I spent most of the time writing an e-mail I later deleted in which I outlined an epic development task I quickly discovered was unnecessary with a quick hack, and implementing the quick hack in my portable sandbox. So despite leaving work at 1500, I still worked eight hours today. (I'm taking Monday off, but my goal is to do a 9/80 -- eighty hours of work in nine days. I worked forty-three hours this week, so I may or may not accomplish my ultimate goal.)

My bus arrived at DIA a few minutes after 1700, almost two and a half hours before my flight left. Computer-assisted check-in was quick and painless. I headed to the Concourse A security screening and almost literally walked up directly to the checkpoint; I spent maybe a minute waiting. I went through the exciting personal explosives screening device which blew compressed air and (apparently) analyzes the residue to see if I've touched any WMDs lately. I left my newly-declared WMD (my Nalgene) in my checked luggage and passed security without any major difficulties, although I'm apparently supposed to wear my shoes through the explosives screener and take them off for the metal detector. *sigh*

(Landing in Oklahoma City. Will return.)

(Saturday morning in Norman.)

By the time I passed security, and walked across the bridge to Concourse A, fifteen minutes had passed since I set foot in the airport. I think that was the fastest I've ever made it into the airport. I was impressed.

Inside security, I set about getting supper but was distracted by a giant Lufthansa 747 parked at the first gate I encountered. I took pictures and tried not to look like a terrorist.

The strangest thing inside security was that none of the concessions were selling weapons of mass destruction; er, bottled drinks. The coolers normally reserved for bottled drinks were dark and had signs posted proclaiming that liquids could no longer be taken on planes. Great, but no TSA regulations I'm aware of prohibit the sale of bottled drinks on the concourse. One place had a hand-written sign saying they would not provide lids for cups or provide salad dressings on the side. (Seriously. Salad dressings?)

When I finally boarded my CRJ-700 for the short flight to Oklahoma City, at the regional jet terminal at the very east end of Concourse A, I looked up and saw DIA's famous tented terminal, clouds lit from the right, and the Lufthansa 747-400 taking off. I stood, transfixed, on the tarmac and watched. I had my camera at my side but didn't get it out to record the scene.

The plane was no more than 75% full; on my row, only two of the four seats were full. After takeoff, we veered to the west to avoid a massive thunderhead. Aside from not having any water, the flight was uneventful. The pilot landed the plane maybe fifteen meters after the end of the runway; looking out the window before landing I had to trust that there would be a runway soon, because I couldn't see any indication out my window.

I fly back Tuesday morning and try to work that day. Should be interesting.