Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer In Atlantic City

I slept in today - I won't be able to sleep in tomorrow! I work at 8 AM. Since I'll be working early for the next two days, I thought I'd have a little fun today. I rode over to the PATCO around 11 and took the 11:23 to Lindenwald. The train to Atlantic City was a little late, but not too bad. Good thing, too. The 12:02 was packed! Literally. The train conductor had to keep telling people to move to the back cars and the front cars. I'd never seen so many people on their way to AC.

The traffic was bad when I arrived, too. I assumed it was because of the nice day. It was hot, a bit hotter than yesterday, but not humid, and a heavy wind kept things from getting too warm. Had a quick lunch of those Spicy Chicken Wonton Tacos at Applebee's after I arrived. It was rather busy for 1:30. I assumed it was the tail end of the lunch crowd.

I browsed in the Tanger Outlets next. This large mall area is the first thing you see if you enter Atlantic City through the Expressway. I didn't do all that well. I did find a cute turquoise and black floral-print skirt at Layne Bryant, but they had nothing in my size at Eddie Bauer, and nothing of interest at Toys R' Us. Much to my disappointment, the Disney Store I bought my toddler Merdia doll at two years ago was gone as well.

I finally just dodged the traffic and the scores of people toting folding chairs and headed for the Boardwalk. I went in the opposite direction from my last couple of Atlantic City trips, towards the Tropicana and Trump Plaza instead of the Taj Mahal. Might as well go this way while the Plaza's still open. A stage area set up for a concert revealed what all the crowds and traffic was about, not to mention the balloons and ads all over the boardwalk for South Jersey country station Cat Country. A popular country star, Blake Sheldon, had a free concert on the beach tonight. Alas, the concert was at 6. The latest train I could get away with catching was the 5:52. There wouldn't be another one until 8:15! I wasn't staying in Atlantic City that late.

I wandered around the boardwalk for a couple of hours. Stopped at one of those 99 cent stores with ancient knick-knacks that Matt at Dinosaur Dracula loves. While I didn't find anything nearly as cool as he did, I did pick up a rather pretty lace-trimmed floral fan (I always loved fans as a kid - they seemed so elegant) and a can of Diet Rite, which I haven't seen since I was a kid. The Diet Rite was surprisingly tasty - I never remembered RC Cola and Diet Rite being that good in the 80s.

Played skee ball and some of the Wheel of Fortune machines at the Playcade. I also tried Pac Man for the first time in years. Got pretty far at it, too, up to the second peach screen. I ultimately won a small plastic trumpet and six peppermint hard candies. My American Girl dolls will get the trumpet.

I dropped by Steel's Fudge for my favorite fruit slices. They had flavors I'd never seen before, like apple, pear, pomegranate, and pineapple. I got a 1/4 pound of the latter two to save for a treat later or tomorrow, and a coconut macaroon for right there.

By that point, it was past quarter of 5. Time to head back. I first stopped at one of the numerous t-shirt shops for one of the main reasons I went there. The Atlantic City t-shirt I bought a few years was worn out. It was time to get a new one. I bought one with a simple red, white, blue, and yellow Atlantic City lettering that looked nicely faded. It took a while for me to buy it, as there were two women haggling over the cheap trinkets under the glass counter.

I wasn't originally going to check out the Pier Shops, a huge high-end mall, but I saw a giant, bright colored candy store and couldn't resist taking a peek. It'Sugar had every kind of confection you could imagine...ironically except for fruit slices. I didn't see any, and what I did see was pricey, including the giant stuffed Nerds. I just went in the main mall instead.

The main mall wasn't that much more exciting. While it was certainly prettier than it had been when I was in college and would occasionally shop there, the fancy stores carried nothing of interest to me. The fountains were lovely and soothing, but the whole mall was much too dark, especially around closed stores. I could barely read some of the signage. The upstairs was especially dark and foreboding, for all the blue lights in the ceiling that were supposed to look like stars. I hurried down a wide ramp, hoping to find my way back to the boardwalk.

I did not find the boardwalk. Instead, I strolled into a world of flashing lights, card dealers, and lemons and 7s. I forgot that Caesers' is connected to the Pier Shops and had ended up on their casino floor. I had neither the time nor the funds for gambling, so I just kept right on going, following the signs around the casino area and across the glass and carpet walkway over the street that connects one part of Caesers' to another. The walkway took me past several gift shops and to an elevator, which finally took me to a bakery and cafe and the lobby. I finally ended up back on the street near Bally's. I now knew where I was. I just followed the crowds straight down to the Rail Station behind the Sheraton Hotel.

This time, there were no travel problems whatsoever. The train to Lindenwald departed on time, was mostly empty, and was only slightly late getting in. The PATCO train to Collingswood somehow almost missed stopping at the Ashland station, but otherwise came and went on time. I rode straight home after I made it to Collingswood.

I was putting together a chicken pasta salad for dinner when the phone rang. To my delight, it was Mom. I sent her a card and a letter a few days ago, just to say "hi." I haven't heard from her much since she started her new job at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. She was in a good mood, though very tired. In addition to her job as a ticket taker and reservations assistant, she helped my sister Anny with her son Skylar's 10th birthday party earlier in the day. It was just his brother, his grandparents, his mother's fiancee, and a few local kids who were the children of Anny's friends. If the photos of them on Anny's Facbook page are any indication, they had a great time pelting each other with water balloons.

Ran most of 'Neath Brookyn Bridge while I ate dinner. We're back with the East Side Kids and a more substantial mystery. The boys help a young girl their age whose guardian was trying to force her to leave her paralyzed grandfather. When Danny (Bobby Jordan) goes back for her clothes, he discovers that her stepfather is dead. The police think he did it, but the Kids know better. Mugs (Leo Gorcey) goes undercover to infiltrate a gambling racket, while the others hide the girl.

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