I've got a few pictures saved up from a day that I flew into Washington, D.C. I have a lot of things I'd like to point out in the pictures. First, note the icecubes flying past the door. The captain was getting rid of the excess from filling our cooler in the airplane!
This was not a good weather day, plus there was something going on in our nation's capitol that day (I can't remember what) so the ramp was packed! A ramp is a parking lot for airplanes.
Wikipedia: An Airport ramp or apron is part of an airport. It is usually the area where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled or boarded. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a license may be required to gain access.
This airplane ended up being parked just barely off the taxiway, at the entrance to the ramp (it would be towed by a tug immediately after the passengers deplaned). As you can see, there's a pickup truck that brought the ramper out to the airplane, so he was able to marshall the airplane into a parking "space." He then walks out to the wingtips of the airplane and puts down traffic cones - just in case someone needs to be reminded of where the wings ended.
The shuttle is there to pick up the passengers and their luggage. At some airports, you can drive your car up to the airplane (or have someone bring it for you), but at a highly secured airport like DC, this is not possible. And though this airplane is not far from the door, it was raining!