Last Train to Albany
I was too excited to sleep until even 7:30 today. I still had to pack small odds and ends that I needed in the morning (like my cell phone and toothbrush), take out the trash, and put the bills in the mailbox. Dad and I were finally off to 30th Street Station around quarter of 10. It was a beautiful, sunny day, hot but not as much as yesterday, and not humid at all. There was no traffic going into the city, and I got there on time.
Unlike last year, I had no problems anywhere. 30th Street Station in Philadelphia is a gorgeous old barn of a building, looking more like an elegant hotel with wood seats and a departure sign than a transportation terminal. I felt so out-of-place in sneakers and Bermuda shorts! Thanks to the wide-open main lobby, it was easy to figure out where I was going, too.
It would seem the Mid-Atlantic states were the only places on the east coast to have decent weather today. Almost everywhere else, from Vermont to Miami, posted delays as long as 2 1/2 hours.
Penn Station wasn't nearly as impressive. It was mostly an underground metal-and-neon maze, like Port Authority. Unlike Port Authority, there was a huge departure sign that told you what track every train was leaving from. The customer service people were very helpful, too. The Albany train had changed times; I only had to ask one person if I was going to the right train, and they knew right away. The only problem I had at Penn Station was the line for the bathroom! (That's what I get for needing to use the restroom during lunch hour.)
Both train rides were smooth sailing all the way. Though the coach cars generally looked like the buses, with two seats on each side, the seats were wider and in better shape, there was more legroom, each seat had a pocket with a safety brochure and an Amtrak magazine in the back and a tray, and none of them appeared to have been written on with marker on recently. The scenery going to New York consisted of mostly suburbs and graffiti, but the view going to Albany was gorgeous. I saw lots of shining lakes, sparkling rivers, and gorgeous mansions, old and new.
The train was actually early arriving at the Albany station. Thankfully, I'd called Lauren earlier to warn her and she was there when I arrived. Her first choice restaurant was closed, so we ended up having dinner at a chain eatery called Cracker Barrel. I'd only recently heard of this chain. They have a country theme, with country music playing in the background, and old-time tin signs, cowboy hats, and guitars hanging on the walls. I had lemon-grilled trout, turnip greens, and roasted red potatoes. She had a pineapple-pecan salad that was HUGE. It was all very tasty. We browsed in the adjoining store after dinner, but neither of us bought anything.
We drove to Lauren's house after dinner, put my stuff in her room, greeted her parents, and went back out again. It was too nice a day to hang around in her room, so we drove over to FYE and Micheal's and browsed. (I bought the third season of Wonder Woman on sale for $9 at FYE; she didn't get anything.)
So yes, I'm now in Lauren's room, typing this on the Compaq laptop Lauren's giving me. (She just bought a Mac laptop a few months ago that she likes much better.) Lauren's looking up addresses to add to her GPS. Tomorrow, we're going to go to a farm market in the parking lot of her local mall, then wander around downtown Pittsfield.