It was dusk for two and a half hours
Every now and then I have a moment where something ordinary strikes me as beautiful. Our flight home from Washington D.C. was like that. We lifted off from Reagan at about six in the evening and as the plane circled around to head northwest, the sun reflected in a thousand windows at once. Washington D.C. and Virginia were made of gold! I saw the Capitol and the Washington Monument, the Potomac (which, thankfully, isn't quite as brown as it used to be), a gorgeous golf course, and parks and playfields galore -- all rosy with the late day's light.
As our flight settled in at 35,000 feet, the sky was cloud free, which gave me a great view of the meandering Ohio River. Beginning in the Ohio River valley, the patchwork patterns on the ground gave me pause to think about the rich, hardworking farmland in the "middle" of America. I wondered how much of what I eat is really grown there. From my vantage point, every few squares of the earth was a different color -- sometimes red brown, sometimes black, sometimes greenish. Groups of squares bounded by narrow gray roads and the occasional ball field or river.
We flew over Lake Erie and then Detroit, a remarkably beautiful city from the air at twilight. I have never visited that city and actually hadn't realized it was right on Lake St. Claire, a perfect little carved-out body of water with Lake Erie not far away.
From there, we popped up above a layer of clouds. It looked as though we were flying above a dessert of pink and gray sand dunes, miles and miles of dunes, all reflecting the brilliant-yet-fading western sunset. The best part was that the sunset didn't fade -- at least not for a long while. There we were, two hours into the flight and it was still dusk.
From there the clouds got lumpier, with mountains and valleys of clouds that we passed through on our journey. Periodically, I'd see a cluster of twinkling lights break through the clouds, and I had a sense it was darker below us than above. The last thing I saw below, before the last light faded from the sky, was lots of ribbon-like roads.
Not long after the sky went dark, the captain came over the speaker and told us that if we strained our eyes to the left of the plane, we could see the lights of Billings, Montana. Hmm. A bit of an odd landmark I thought (apologies, Darcy).
And then my baby woke up. After three and a half hours of peaceful, damp, snoring-softly sleep, Wyatt was awake and wanted to look out the window with me.
As we neared home, we spied the Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia River, and then after the darkness of the mountains, the glowing light of the Greater Seattle area. On our descent, we saw downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. And then we landed at SeaTac, which for this nervous flyer, was also a beautiful thing.