You never know what's going to happen over the holidays...well, I take that back. There are some things that seem to always happen.
For one, travel delays. Ironically, on my presidential flight path (Bush Intercontinental to Reagan National, starting at Easterwood), it wasn't weather in my general vicinity that kept me off-time. Instead, an airplane broke, meaning they had to get a new craft. For that, I was thankful, as just days earlier, a Denver-to-Houston hop burned up on the runway. Then, my flight out of Houston to DC was delayed due to weather in the white northwest that clogged the system.
Also almost guaranteed, familiar faces. Of course, there's family and friends, but then, there are interview subjects...who happen to be presidential cabinet members. My dad was kind enough to get me a tour of the Pentagon's press area, where the big news organizations have their closet-like offices to learn all things American military each day.
But before that scheduled tour, my dad and I walked the halls of the military leadership. One of the last we roamed was the secretary of defense's offices. As we passed the door to Robert Gates's domain, I decided I'd pay a visit to my fellow Indiana University-degree holder. The look on the face of the young uniformed man who saw a casually-dressed civilian with the visitor badge stroll in like he belonged there was priceless. Sadly, Secretary Gates was not in that day. I was disappointed, but not surprised.
I mentioned the press area at the Pentagon, a very impressive set-up. I got to stroll the hall where David Martin and Jim Miklaszewski (yes, that's spelled right) have worked for years. While most doors were closed, CNN's Barbara Starr was in, and she chatted with my dad and I briefly...very nice...darn good reporter, too.
But then came the weirdest run-in. As I'm getting off the plane in Houston on my trip home (one relatively on-time), making my way up the aisle from Row 21, I notice all empty seats except for a pair of people standing and waiting: one young girl, one fatherly gentleman. I did what I believe was a triple take (at the very least, it was a double), and immediately needed to confirm my thought.
Neil Bush -- middle child of the 41st president, brother of the 43rd -- and I chatted briefly. His holidays were nice, and he was glad I was reading his father's book, "All the Best," saying it was a good holiday read. It took me a bit to realize he had likely spent his holiday at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was nice to see Neil, who I interviewed in the lead-up to the grand reopening of his dad's library.
The holidays: familiar faces, good tidings of cheer, and travel delays...at least on my trip away from Texas. While we weren't delayed on the trip back, I did have another inevitable: the kid behind me was kicking my chair incessantly, and there was a baby crying non-stop for half my Reagan-to-Bush flight.
These things happen.