Monday, October 12, 2015

Long Day's Journey On the East Coast

Started a beautiful blue, sunny day with cartoons on travel as I rounded up the last things I needed to pack and ate Apple-Dark-Chocolate-Chip Muffins for breakfast. Did a couple of cartoons while I got ready. Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City was one of the original Strawberry specials from the early 80's. Strawberry hits the city to compete in a nationally-televised bake-off. The Pieman is close on her tail, but she meet some new friends who help her with his devious tactics.

Garfield isn't much happier out in the woods with Jon and Odie in Garfield In the Rough. He'd rather be on any vacation but camping. Their boring trip into the wilderness becomes a lot more dangerous when they discover that a killer panther is loose in the area!

Austin is having his own problems pursuing "Le Master of Disguise" on The Backyardigans. Pablo can dress up in any costume, making him very hard to find! He can only be recognized through his distinctive laugh. Austin searches for him among the passengers on the Orient Express, including Conductor Uniqua, Cowboy Tyrone, and Circus Performer Tasha.

I dragged my things downstairs at 9:30. Rose didn't show up until almost 10 minutes after that. And I didn't realize she was going to bring her smaller car. I had the other, larger suitcase for her to take home. Between trying to jam two suitcases in her tiny trunk and her being late (and then missing the exit for Cherry Hill), we were not going to make the train to Philly. She ended up driving me to the 30th Street Station instead, letting me off of at the Citra Centre. (I loaned her the toll money - she hadn't planned on going to the city.)

Things went better at 30th Street Station. I like that station. It's so big and elegant, the Frank Sinatra music the guy at the shoe shine booth was playing seemed totally right. I half-expected to see Sinatra practicing with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra somewhere. I did make a mistake when I mixed up the train times, but the man at the track turned me around.

The train to New York was relatively calm. I was in the quiet car, which probably helped. It was busy but not full. I quickly called Rose to tell her I was on the train (and to tell Khai the train was passing by the Philadelphia Zoo), then sat back and watched the trees, suburbs, and graffiti fly by.

By the time the train arrived at New York around quarter of 2, Penn Station was more of a zoo than the Philadelphia Zoo! Unlike big, grand 30th Street, it's an ugly neon maze. Unless you want to eat or shop, there isn't much to do. I packed my own food and wanted to save my money. I spent most of the almost 3 hours I was there either walking around in circles or sitting on the floor near the waiting lounge, eating my snacks and reading.

Not only was the Lake Shore Limited to Albany and Chicago more than 20 minutes late leaving, but the line to get on the Albany car went half-way around the main room! I was lucky to get on at all. At least the Asian Indian girl I sat with was sweet. The gorgeous view helped, too. The line is aptly named; the lakes and rivers of the Hudson River Valley area are beautiful. Yachts with billowing white sails bobbed on rippling glass waters surrounded by rolling green hills. It was like a painting or a picture from a storybook. (I hope the shot the Asian Indian girl took of the sunset with her phone camera came out - the sunset was amazing, all pinks and purples and blues. I regret having left my camera in my big bag that went on the rack.)

It was almost 7 when the train finally arrived at Albany. I'd called Lauren about a half-hour before and told her I'd be late - it was supposed to have arrived at 6:20! Lauren, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Miller, and I had dinner at a Denny's about 10 minutes from the station. We all had breakfast for dinner. Mr. Miller had french toast. I had Blueberry Muffin Pancakes (blueberries and white chocolate chips). Lauren had a make-your-own-Grand-Slam - scrambled egg whites, hash browns, bacon, sausage. Mrs. Miller had The Grand Slamwich, a huge egg-sausage-and-cheese on toast concoction. Mr. Miller ended up eating most of his wife's hash browns. I was so hungry, I ate the last of Lauren's hash browns and a bit of Mrs. Miller's Slamwich. We shared Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

(And I don't know how this happened, but two guys with a baby walked in while we were having dessert. They had a baby carrier with them. As we were leaving, we heard a waitress complain that the guys had eaten their meal and walked out without paying, and left the baby carrier, to boot.)

We finally got into Pittsfield around 9:30. Lauren and her parents live in a big, lovely home on a quiet street in the hills. I'm sleeping in their guest room/office. Right now, Lauren and I are chatting together online in her room in the basement and watching stuff on YouTube. Tomorrow, we're going to begin our exploration of her area with a trip to a bookstore in Lenox and a chocolate cafe in Pittsfield, along with walks in downtown Lenox and Lee.

And I hope your Columbus Day was a lot less hectic - and equally full of discoveries!

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