Friday, September 21, 2018

Wand'rin' Star

It was cloudy and a little damp when I rolled out of bed this morning. Lauren and I had enough time after I finished packing and ate breakfast to play a few last rounds of Rayman Legends. We got through the final bad guy of "Toad Story" and were heading to the next round when Lauren noticed it was getting late.

Lauren's parents joined us on our trip across upstate New York to Albany. It rained lightly and was a bit foggy when we left. By the time we were passing through small farming villages and past a highway littered with many Rite Aids and pizza parlors, the rain was long gone. Only clouds and a slightly humid and warm day remained as Lauren pulled in at the Albany-Renesselaer Station.

The Albany station is the smallest and most recent of the train stations Lauren and I pass through when we visit each other, having been built in 2002. It really is lovely, with lots of blond wood and dramatic vaulted ceilings. I just wish they'd finish the work on the road and parking lot. We had a harder time getting to the station and parking than we did once we got in. We sat and watched The Price Is Right in the small waiting area until it was time to depart.

On my way down the escalator, the bag of snacks I'd had tied to my other bags decided to split wide open! Someone was nice enough to recover my muffins, but I lost a peach and a granola bar. It was embarrassing, but I did still have other food. Thankfully, that was the worst thing that happened during the entire Albany-New York trip. The train wasn't anything resembling full, and I easily got a seat to myself. I whiled away the time coloring a picture of Han and Chewbacca from my Star Wars comics-based adult coloring book and admiring the gorgeous view of the old mansions, majestic mountains, and colorful towns along the Hudson River. I even saw a tugboat toting a barge along the lake.

Penn Station was very busy when I arrived, but it always is. I ducked into a small room filled with PNC Bank ATMs to get money, then bought a coconut-covered donut from Dunkin' Donut to get change for the subways later. I ate my treat in the main room, then used the bathroom (which for once didn't have a line), and walked around for a little while until the Keystone train was announced.

I should have gotten into the line sooner. The train to Philadelphia (which was actually going to Harrisburg) was full to capacity and beyond! It took me 15 minutes just to find a seat. Teary and frustrated, I eventually landed next to three younger women, all of whom spent the trip checking their cell phones or doing homework. One was even nice enough to chat a little bit with me. I told her I was going to Philly; she mentioned she was on her way to Lancaster.

I was in less of a hurry when I finally arrived at the 30th Street Station. After another bathroom break, I went down the hall to the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut booth. I wanted the Burrito Supreme combo, but the girl completely misheard me and gave me a burrito and a taco! Oh well. I was hungry enough by that point to eat both, anyway.

It took me another 10 minutes after dinner to figure out where the subway entrance was. I got it mixed up with the SEPTA Regional Rail. Turns out the entrance to the subway at the 30th Street Station is across the street. Even after I found it, the card I bought to get on just would not swipe, no matter how many directions I pulled it. The lady at the ticket booth finally just let me through.

At least the ride was a little easier. The SEPTA trains are just as plain as the buses, with hard blue seats that scream 70's. Unlike the overcrowded and annoying ride to and from the King of Prussia Mall, the train wasn't crowded and was on time. I was at 8th Street in less than five minutes.

I don't know how I messed up the PATCO. I was sweating bullets and nervous as heck when I bought my ticket. I shoved it in the wrong way until a security man helped me get through. The rest of the trip was far less troubled. Other than the train was a few minutes late - the only train today that was - there were no problems whatsoever. Dad and Jodie picked me up at the Collingswood station about five minutes after I got in.

I called the Acme while I was putting everything away. Sounds like I'll be going back to work at 9 AM on Sunday. I didn't really think I'd be working one day this week, especially since I normally get Saturdays off. After all the trouble I had today, I'm glad. It'll give me time to recover and restock my refrigerator.

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