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Just Getting to Dubai Was an Adventure in Itself

It’s been years since my last international flight. Pre-9/11 actually. Back then, though, the traveling abroad was back and forth to Germany where my dad was stationed at Karl Schulz Kaserne in Bremerhaven, of what was then called West Germany. I barely remember the flight back to the states, but I do remember that we didn’t go through layers and layers of security.

Last week was my first international travel since 1991. Just getting to the gate was a journey in itself. I’m just glad I wasn’t subjected to Röntgen radiation! Of course our travel plans would take us through the closest airport to the U.S. Capitol Building then JFK in New York, so I should’ve known.

Najwa Gaines at Reagan National Airport in Washington DCSince travelers with infants can’t do online check-in, curbside check-in, e-ticket check-in or anything else to prevent us from standing in a long line with a restless child, Najwa gave us a glimpse of what to expect. She threw the tantrum we wanted to throw from standing in line for so long, but she’s trained well. Once the camera is pointed in her direction, she starts saying, “cheese!”

Eventually, though, we got the show on the road. Najwa calmed down a bit to say goodbye to Washington, DC. As the plane started to taxi to the runway, Najwa took a moment to look out the window. The plane started to accelerate, and she seemed pretty excited. One thing that helped was no one was sitting behind us so Najwa and I moved to the last set of seats while Nduku sat in front of us pretending she had nothing to do with all the screaming.

Reagan National Airport in Washington DC

Reagan National Airport

David Gaines and Najwa Gaines watching Washington, DC, fade as we have liftoff.

Najwa on her first airplane liftoff

Najwa's hands

Najwa waving bye-bye, or bracing herself, or just doing what babies do.

During the short flight to New York, Najwa and I went to war. She was infatuated with the tray, with opening and closing the shade, with a flashlight behind our chair, turning the light on and off, playing with the seat belt she refused to wear, and after the 40 minutes aloft, I was already feeling as if I was jet lagged!

One of the great things of flying is the fleeting aerial views of the city you just left. There’s just something about seeing the structures on the ground from a bird’s eye view. The grand Lincoln Memorial, the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC, in general, from the air, is such an amazing site. I love everything about Washington, DC, and the views from thousands of feet in the air only adds to the admiration of our nation’s capital.

The Tidal Basin from the air

The Tidal Basin including the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial from the air.

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and White House.

Nduku taking in the view of Washington, DC, below.

Nduku watching as Washington, DC, fades away.

Najwa did finally settle down though. It still amazes me how much little ones emulate what they see grown adults doing. I started reading something, a book perhaps, and Najwa grabbed a magazine to be like daddy. Only she still hasn’t figured out right-side-up and upside-down.

Najwa enjoying an in-flight magazine, upside-down.

Najwa showing off her ability to read upside-down.

Najwa had such a good time, she protested all the way off the plane. Before the flight I wondered how she would take the acceleration, the ears popping, the cramped space we were confined to, but apparently she loved it. While waiting for the stroller, I let go of her hand for a split second and she made an immediate dash back to the plane!

The trip to JFK International Airport, though, was as bad as it got. It was getting late so she started to mellow out. We had aisle seats, but no one sat next to us so we could stretch out a little. Well, let Najwa stretch out a bit. The hop over to Great Britain was peaceful. Everyone was spared Najwa’s wrath. We got a little shuteye while losing 6 hours chasing the sun.

Najwa finally falls asleep on the plane.

Finally!

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