Friday, August 30, 2013

On the Boardwalk In Atlantic City

I started a cloudy day with this week's grocery run. I didn't need a whole lot. I was mostly restocking baking items - flour, brown sugar, butter. They had a sale on ground chicken and Acme's organic honey. It wasn't really busy there, either. I easily got into a line and out the door.

When I got home, I put everything away as fast as I could, and then rushed back out and over to the Collingswood PATCO. I just made the 11:32 train to Lindenwold. I'd been wanting to make a trip to Atlantic City all summer, but I either didn't have the time, the money, the energy, or a mix of two or more of those things. It was now or never. I flew to the station so fast, I actually had a stomachache when I arrived.

Thankfully, I caught all vehicles without a hitch. The PATCO train to Lindenwold was right on time, as was the train to Atlantic City. The 12:01 train to Atlantic City was fairly full, not surprising on the first day of the Labor Day Weekend, but I did manage to get a seat. (I'm glad I waited on the train this time. The 554 that I took to Pomona a few weeks ago would have taken two hours to get to Atlantic City. I didn't really want to wait that long.)

While I did take a look around the Disney Store at the Walk Outlets, that wasn't my main objective for this trip. I spent most of my four hours in AC on the world-famous boardwalk, talking in the sights and sounds. The sun was going in and out by quarter of 2, and it was windy and fairly chilly on the boards. It was no day for the beach, which along with the holiday weekend, explained why the boardwalk was bustling with rolling cars and showgirls in skimpy 20s-inspired costumes.

My first stop was a small eatery called Joe Rock Cafe near Bally's. I saw a sign outside that said they had breakfast all day and was hoping to find a decent meal for at least a bit cheaper than most of the other "name" eateries. I finally settled on a Belgian waffle with fresh blueberries smothered in syrup. It was a little chewy, but not bad. The blueberries were a bit better - I wonder if they'd been purchased from a local farm market.

I spent the next hour or two just exploring the boardwalk. I browsed in a few gift shops, including an old grimy favorite, Peanut World. I tried the crane games at Central Pier. One had WebKinz; another sported stuffed animals from the movie Rio. No luck with either.

I was delighted to note that Steel Pier didn't have a one-charge-pay-all admission. I was free to walk around without having to buy any tickets first. "The Showplace of the Nation" is really just a glorified amusement park, but it's the only such place in Atlantic City. The coolest ride is the Crazy Mouse roller coaster, which has rounded seats that fly around curves, instead of the usual car-like seats. Otherwise, it's your standard back-and-forth pirate ship (there called the Flying Dutchman), merry-go-round, kid's cars-on-track, Ferris wheel, "Rock n' Roll" fast music-playing around-and-around coaster, and tea cups. (The bumper cars said "coming soon" - maybe they were down for repairs?) I tried a water gun game, but I couldn't get my water to hit the spot properly.

My legs were really tired by that point, and it was getting later and windier. I started heading back. Made one last stop at Central Pier to try for those stuffed Rio birds (still no luck). I checked a few candy shops, including Frailinger's and James', for my favorite fruit slices. When I didn't see them, I ended up grabbing them from Peanut World.

After I left the boardwalk, I made a quick stop at the Bus Station for schedules for the Cape May buses for my trip down there in a few weeks. I browsed in Ashley Stewart and Layne Bryant, the only plus-sized women's clothes stores at the Outlets. Nothing I absolutely needed. I was tired and hot and sore at that point. I just headed to the Train Station a bit early.

The train was supposed to leave at 4:42. People started lining up at 4:25. Then someone saw a man go through the door. He wore a suit and looked official, so I guess people assumed that everyone was supposed to head for the trains. Wrong! They wouldn't be ready for another 10 minutes or so. I felt silly as a huge crowd of holiday weekend travelers stood at the doors and stared at the conductor and each other, wondering what was going on.

Thankfully, that was the worst that happened on the trip. Once we got out of the terminal, it was smooth riding all the way to Lindenwauld. The PATCO went even better. While the train to Lindenwold was very full, the PATCO to Collingswood was empty. There were only two other people on the train with me. I was off by 6 on the dot and back in Oaklyn by 6:30.

I treated myself to what may be my last Leo's Yum Yum of the season. They'll probably be open for another month or so after Labor Day - they usually close in late September-early October. I had my favorite Cotton Candy Yum-Yum. I tried to eat it on the bike, but a good chunk wound up on the street before I finally came to the conclusion that creamy water ice is best eaten sitting down.

When I got home, I put away my candy, then ran Weekend at Bernie's while making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This odd 1987 comedy is set on Labor Day Weekend. Two ordinary working stiffs (Andrew McCarthy and Johnathan Silverman) are invited to spend the weekend at their boss' beach house after they discover that someone's defrauding the insurance company they work for. It all seems too good to be true...until they discover their boss dead and hitmen on their trail. The more party-hearty of the two suggests making the dead man appear to be alive. They may not have a choice if they want to get off the island without ending up like Bernie!

This is one of the stranger premises in an era that was rife with odd comedies. Surprisingly, while no masterpiece, it still works quite well. Silverman and especially McCarthy are having a ball as the two guys who will do anything - including drag a dead man around - to prolong their vacation. Recommended if you love really odd, slightly dark 80s comedies or grew up watching this constantly on cable as I did.

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