I took a week and a half long business trip back to the US, escorting some Japanese around Atlanta and Washington DC. I got back to Japan last night, and am struggling with the jet lag.
Flying out, I upgraded to business class using some of my United miles. United's had a rough summer, but overall, my experience wasn't too bad. For some reason, when trying to arrange my flights to, from, and around the US, I was unable to get a direct flight to Atlanta, or back from DC. Delta flies direct, but apparently, there are no government fares for those legs. Which meant that I had to spend an additional 3-4 hours each way traveling to or from an intermediate stop.
Atlanta's airport doesn't seem to have changed since I used to fly in and out on a regular basis. In the past, it has not been uncommon to see someone I know while there, but this time, no luck. There were, however, a lot of soldiers transiting to and from the war zone. It was great to see the reception they were getting. The USO has a big operation there, and had folks personally greeting all military members as they came up the escalator from the arrival areas. There was a large crowd of people all waiting to pick up arriving passengers, but they all clapped when a soldier would arrive. It was nice to see, considering all the supposed "support the troops" crap you hear about whenever you turn on the TV or radio news.
DC was great...Had a chance to catch up with cousin Tim, and several other friends not seen in far too long. I also introduced my Japanese friends to several different types of foods, including Ethiopian and Lebanese at a couple of our favorite restaurants and old haunts. One night, I took a few of them up to Baltimore where we saw Ft. McHenry and ate supper in Little Italy. So, they got a bit of American culture along the way, in addition to the series of meetings that we went to.
It was a long, 13 hour flight back from Dallas yesterday, but a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts prior to the flight made it almost worth the stop. It's just nice to be home again, trying to sort out what emails are important from the junk...I think I've got about a 20/80 ratio there. Just part of the fun...