It was still relatively sunny when I heard Lauren's parents moving around 7:30. I read, wrote, and packed until Lauren emerged at 9. We spent our last hour together playing more Rayman Origins. She'd already been working on the first level of the next world, your basic ice world. We did another ice world, then finished with the fire levels. We got one level in the ocean-themed fourth world in before Lauren realized it was time to go.
The clouds were starting to gather as we headed through the countryside of western Massachusetts and upstate New York, but they still weren't really threatening at that point. There was no traffic, and we arrived at the Albany-Rensslauer Train Station with enough time for me to buy a Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch, and for us to watch some of the Team Rhythmic Gymnastics finals, one of the last Olympic competitions. Incidentally, we did see Russia's eventual gold-medal-winning performance. I thought the crowd seemed to like the routines from Israel and the Ukraine (the latter did theirs to Madonna's "Vogue") better.
The train had no trouble leaving the station on time, around 12:05. They were crazy-full. I was able to eat my lunch before I was joined by a young man who spent most of the ride either sleeping or messing around with his phone. I listened to music on my iPod and enjoyed the spectacular view. The view going to New York is glorious, all shining lakes and green mountains dotted with mansions and cabins. It's so postcard-worthy.
We were a little late getting into New York, but it wasn't a big deal. The trouble started after we finally made it to Penn Station. I kept checking the departure monitor every few minutes. The train with my number on it was coming to Boston, and it was 50 minutes late. It took them nearly 20 minutes to figure out that the same train on its way to Washington DC was not going to be on-time. It first said 35, then switched to 45 around 4 PM. I spent most of the time reading Lando Calarissian and the Star Cave of the Thromboka, using the bathroom, and constantly checking either the monitor or the main board. When the train did finally arrive, it was so full, the line had to be split into two entrances just to get everyone on.
By the time we finally rolled out of Penn Station at nearly 5, the rain that had threatened in the New York suburbs was now coming down in torrents. The train was so darn full, I grabbed one of the last seats in the very back of the car, next to the bathroom. I was initially joined by an older woman and a man and his adorable daughter. The woman got off at Elizabeth; the man and his daughter eventually joined the rest of their family. I finished the ride with two teen boys in goth dress and a college-age girl, all of whom spent the ride playing with their smartphones and hand-held video games
Didn't make it to Philly until 6:30. I just barely had enough time to grab a hoagie at Jersey Mike's, eat it fast, and dash to the NJ Transit train. Thankfully, by this point, the rain had stopped. In fact, there was a rather nice sunset. Also, once again, we left on time but were late arriving in Cherry Hill, thanks to stopping to let another train go past. Dad picked me up at the platform and drove me home.
I called the Acme as soon as I got in, even before I unpacked everything else. I'm working 1 to 5 tomorrow. Good. That'll give me time to get organized and do some writing, and it's not too hard for my first day back in over a week.
And yes, today ends my vacation. I'm glad I did it in August this year, instead of waiting for the fall. I had an even better time with Lauren this year than I did last year. We're talking about Lauren coming to New Jersey earlier next year, in May instead of June. It's too hot in June for all the walking we do, not to mention to keep the air conditioning off. (Lauren doesn't like air conditioning. Her family has no air conditioners.) The kids will still be in school, and a lot of the places we frequently visit here will be quieter.