A canceled commuter flight from Washington, D.C., to Portland brought four strangers and a senator together Thursday for a overnight trek up the East Coast.

Sen. Angus King and dozens of others were sent scrambling at Reagan International Airport after a scheduled 5 p.m. flight to Portland was canceled due to low clouds and high winds in Maine.

Among them was Matt Dusoe, 31, of Chelsea, who was waiting in line to re-book his flight back to Portland when he made a joke to his travelers.

“We were all waiting in line to get flights, and I said, ‘Anybody wanna rent a car and just go?'”

To his surprise, three people  nearby agreed. Dusoe was joined by Rebecca Gibbons, Ramon Krikken, and Tim Schneider in the impromptu road trip. As they headed toward the car rental counters, the group spotted a familiar face – King, who also was delayed.

“These people came over and said, ‘Hey senator, how are you going home?'” King said, in a phone interview Friday evening. He had already booked a seat on the next flight, at around 10 p.m., but Dusoe and the others told King that the later flight was delayed, as well.

So without skipping a beat, King, 75, joined up for a road trip, he said.

“I was surprised, but I was excited that he would go with us,” Dusoe said.

Before they knew it, the group of five were happily chatting on their way north in Interstate 95. At a rest stop near the Maryland state line, the group posed for a photo that King posted to his Instagram account. More than 2,500 people have since liked the picture.

“Two software engineers, a college professor, a lawyer, and a U.S. Senator – what could possibly go wrong?” King quipped in the caption.

“We took off at about 7, 8 o’clock and drove all night,” King said in the interview. “We stopped for gas and listened to music. Everyone napped a little bit, but there was a lot of conversation.”

Except for the elected official, it was like any other road trip, Dusoe said.

“We talked about the gamut,” Dusoe said. “Anything and everything to kill 9 hours worth of traveling.”

Everyone took turns napping, but King estimated he got only 30 or 45 minutes of shut-eye.

They crossed the George Washington Bridge in New York City around midnight, and made landfall in Kittery around 4 a.m., with the senator behind the wheel. King insisted, Dusoe said.

“He did want to be the one who drove us into Maine, so that was pretty cool that he wanted to do that,” Dusoe said.

King arrived home around 6 a.m. and was in bed by around 7 a.m., and awoke Friday around noon, he said. He can’t remember the last time he either went to bed at 7 a.m., or slept so late.

“The key is spontaneity,” King said. “You’ve got to say yes every now and then. That’s what made it so fun, it was unexpected.”


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