Heard on the Hill

King of the road trip: Maine senator treks home after canceled flight

Angus King went to bed while you were waking up

Maine Sen. Angus King , center, and his fellow road-trippers. (Courtesy Office of Sen. Angus King)

Angus King stayed up way past your bedtime Thursday night. He wasn’t out partying (though he’ll tell you he had a great time) — he was road tripping from D.C. to Maine. The nearly nine-hour trek was a result of storms in Portland and a canceled flight out of Washington.

After sitting on the runway at Reagan National Airport for at least an hour waiting for skies to clear, the plane’s captain came over the intercom to give already annoyed passengers even worse news: They’d have to find another way home.

The senator immediately began making other arrangements before he met four young travelers — two software engineers, a college professor and a lawyer — who, like King, were trying to get home.

“Hey, senator! You wanna go home with us?” King recalled them saying as they invited him on their drive up the East Coast.

Having booked another flight, he politely declined, but then realized that if the first canceled trip was any indication of how the rest of his evening would go, he was gambling. He took the road warriors up on their offer.

“It was like a college road trip,” a well-rested King told me over the phone from Maine on Friday, after sleeping off the trip.

King and his new friends rented a minivan and hit the road around 7:30 p.m. Disputes over music weren’t an issue, as the trip was mostly “conversations and cat naps,” King said.

With a background in journalism, King is no stranger to probing questions. He thoroughly enjoyed quizzing his car mates and learning about their professions and interests, he told me.

The real fun for him, however, started before he even hopped in the car. He texted his chief of staff and told her he had decided to drive up to Maine with four nice people with Eastern European accents.

“I don’t really know them, but they seem very nice,” he texted her. “She went berserk,” he laughed.

Stopping only for gas, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and to switch out drivers, the minivan finally crossed into Maine around 4:00 a.m. King insisted on driving the last leg that began in Massachusetts so he could be the one to cross the state line into Maine.

“The big lesson here is spontaneity — seize the moment,” King says.

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