Saturday, December 13, 2008

Walking a Christmas Mile

I had an incredibly long day. I was supposed to be meeting my friend Amanda at 11:45 to see The Nutcracker at Richard Stockton College at 1PM. Long story short, I did get on the right bus this morning on time...but I got off at not only the wrong stop, but a stop over a mile from where I was supposed to get off! The White Horse Pike/Pomona Road stop is kind of in the middle of nowhere, and I must have missed the sign. I ended up getting off at Absecon!

I had no idea when the next bus was going to arrive, and Absecon is on a part of the White Horse Pike that's really more of a major highway, so I just walked back to Pomona Road. That was probably a mistake. It was a clear, cold day, and I was wearing my cheap sneakers, which are falling apart. (I wore them because they're comfortable and I didn't think I'd be doing a lot of walking today!) I was so upset over getting off, I cried and berated myself the whole way back.

By the time I got there, it was 1PM, the Nutcracker had already begun, I was freezing and hungry, and my feet were not only killing me, but my old sneakers had rubbed the backs of my feet so bad, they were bleeding. I walked around another hour, looking for Amanda's car. When I couldn't find it or her by quarter after 2, I put Band-Aids on my feet (good thing I always carry some in my purse) and took the quick express bus to Stockton. (I know that bus well. I used to take it to the Hamilton Mall or to the small groceria on Pomona Road to buy food for me and my roommates when I lived in the Housing IV apartments.)

The bus goes directly by Stockton. (I would occasionally be able to convince kind-hearted bus drivers to stop at Housing IV when I lived there. The bus literally goes right by my old apartment.) Stockton's been doing some major updating in the past decade or so. They'd already begun when I was there with the new Housing IV apartments and "Big Blue" freestanding gym/auditorium. From what I could see from the bus, they'd added another set of apartments in what used to be a bare, grassy area between Housing IV and Housing I (probably Housing V) and had renovated the exteriors of Housing I, which were looking more than a little scuzzy between 1997 and 2001. They'd also turned the old causeway on the path over Lake Fred between the apartments and the main campus into a lovely bridge.

There were more renovations as I made my way past the front brick building that houses the art classes, where the bus lets off. There was so much construction going on in the first two wings, I had to go around them outside! Not something that made me happy after all the outdoor walking I did. I finally made it to K-Wing on the other side of the main campus, where the stage is. There was no one guarding the doors to the stage, and nobody objected when I just walked right in.

I did end up getting to see the last half-hour of The Nutcracker, which was lovely. I came in just as the Chinese Tea dancers were getting started. My favorites were the vigorous Russian Trepack dancers (three gentleman and a rare lady - the Russian dancers are usually all male) and the lovely pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier and their subsequent solos.

I met Amanda after the show. As it turned out, she had been waiting for me but finally left about 10 minutes to 1...not long before I arrived at Pomona Road! They gave her credit for the unused ticket. We had originally planned on walking around Stockton after the show, but between the very cold day and my tired feet, we decided to head to dinner at the Hamilton Mall instead.

We ate a lovely meal at Red Lobster. We shared the Jumbo Coconut Shrimp. Amanda had a Caesar Salad and stuffed flounder. I had a garden salad and (Broiled) Tilapia in a Bag with Winter Vegetables. My Tilapia was a tad mushy, but otherwise, it was really, really good. Amanda said her stuffed flounder was excellent, but she doesn't have the appetite I do (and hadn't been walking in the cold for two hours), so she ended up taking her home. We got to take home two each of those heavenly cheddar drop biscuits Red Lobster does so well, too.

We walked around the Hamilton Mall after that, too, which may have been a mistake. Not surprisingly for a Saturday evening in December, the place was mobbed. I was happy to see that they still have some of my favorite stores, though, including the Suncoast Video that's yielded some of my favorite video and DVD finds over the years. Amanda actually ended up buying a Three Stooges DVD set that was on sale there.
I picked up presents at Claire's and at Gertrude Hawk's Chocolates (though the latter present was for kids, and not actually food).

Though the lines at Gertrude Hawk and Claire's weren't bad, it was hard to just walk around in the mall...and the traffic outside was much worse. We missed the bus the first time and went back to a Starbucks across from the mall, next to Applebee's for warm drinks. In fact, we almost missed the NEXT bus, but Amanda was able to follow it to the next stop on the White Horse Pike, and I picked it up from there.

The ride home was smooth sailing, with no traffic and no problems, on the bus or the train. It was really quite pleasant. A lot of the White Horse Pike runs through small towns and farms and wineries, giving homes and businesses plenty of space for massive Christmas lights displays. Seeing all those gorgeous lights really cheered me up after all the trouble I'd had today.

Today concludes my Christmas shopping. I'll wrap my presents tomorrow and spend the rest of the next two weeks baking and raking.

And some good came out of today. Now I know where the stop for the Lindenwald-Atantic City bus is, and that it's not really that far from the bus terminal (a little under an hour). I also discovered that the Voorhees Town Center is minutes from the Woodcrest, Ashland, and Lindenwald PATCO terminals, and they're all close to each other. Both might be better places to occasionally meet with Amanda than Deptford.

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