And I'll Just Keep On Travelling Forever Just Because . . . (NYC 4)

[Sorry it took me so long to finish this; I've been away from the computer for a while . . . ]


So there I was in New York City, stuck with no way to get home and no more money. A little while after I arrived in my room, I checked my email to find that the Monday morning flight I'd been put on stand-by for had been cancelled. Now I had to figure out what to do for the next day and a half. By the time I learned about the second cancelled flight, my sister had arrived back at her home in Maryland. We spent a lot of time talking back and forth and with her on the internet. She helped me calm down and stop worrying so much.

The first thing I did was call the credit card company and get an emergency credit limit raise for two days only. That done, I called my sister again, and she was looking at the websites for both Amtrak and Jet Blue. Then I called Jet Blue to see if I could get on a flight from DC to Burbank or Long Beach on Monday afternoon. I was able to get the last ticket on a flight from DC to Long Beach. Then I called my sister back, and she was still on the Amtrak site. She found a train from Penn Station to DC on Monday morning. All I had to do was figure out how to get to Penn Station. She bought me my ticket online (thanks, Sis!), and we hung up the phone at around 2am.

So now I had a plan, but I was still so traumatized that I had a hard time sleeping. I was also scared that I would oversleep and miss my train. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours, but I wasn't really sure how long it would take me to get to Penn Station. So I got up and checked out of my room and took the hotel shuttle back to the airport. Oh yeah. Did I mention that the hotel had a shuttle that no one told me about? Yeah. That entire taxi nightmare could have been avoided. *sigh* Funny thing. While I was sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for the shuttle, a pilot from another airline checked his airline's website on his iPhone and found that HIS flight had been cancelled but no one had bothered to tell him!

Back at JFK, I found another taxi stand, but it was nice and closed up. A traffic/security guard saw me and took pity on me. I must have looked pretty pitiful. He motioned for me to follow him and led me to the famous phone bank. He dialed a number and said, "Just tell them your last name and where you are. They'll take care of you." It was a car service that charged exactly the same as a taxi, AND they'd take my credit card. Soon the driver arrived, after I'd had to wave off the errant taxi that tried to get my business. "Just ignore them," the guard told me. So I did.

Driving through New York in the very early morning sure is different than driving through New York at rush hour. Still, the traffic doesn't ever seem to end. It took a while, but we finally made it to Penn Station. The driver felt sorry for me when I explained that I really was catching a train. It turns out that I arrived with two hours to spare before my train left. I got a snack and some drinks and sat down in the waiting area to read my book. Turns out that Amtrak has a nice waiting area for its customers. Everyone else has to sit on the floor.

My train arrived right on time, and I boarded the train with no problem. The train is a lot more comfortable than a plane, though of course it takes a lot longer. It also costs about the same or maybe even more than a plane ticket. The train made some stops, but not so many to make the trip annoying. I was even able to sleep for about an hour and a half, something I really needed. About halfway through the trip, a man boarded the train and sat next to me. He didn't say much to me until he heard me talking to my sister on the phone. Then he had to hear the whole sordid story, which I didn't mind telling. He told me something that Steph had said--that this was happening for some reason. He also added that maybe I would be missing a big earthquake by getting home late.

After about 3 hours, I arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC. My brother-in-law Ed was even there to meet me. We took the Metro to Silver Spring. Wow! Their Metro sure is a lot cleaner than the subway in New York! The trip didn't last all that long, which was good. We got to the Metro stop and went outside. Almost immediately my sister drove up! The day was getting better. We dropped off Ed at work and then headed back to get some food. We went to a local Chinese restaurant and ordered some food, then headed to CVS to kill some time while we waited. Our food was soon ready, and we went back to the house for lunch. I sat in the easy chair, ate good food, and rested. Thank God for big sisters. I felt so much better. I watched TV, printed out my boarding pass, and looked at pictures of Annie.

Soon it was time to head to Dulles Airport. I was actually scared. But we got to the airport with no problems, and soon I was headed toward a very long security line. Oddly, however, when I approached the end of the line, a security officer waved me through to a station that had no waiting, and I was through in a matter of seconds. I had to take a shuttle to my gate, but I was soon sitting at the gate and actually had quite a bit of time to kill. I checked my email on my phone. I would have read, but I had already finished my book while in the train station. I wrote in my museum journal and then went to get some food. I found a place that had customized salads, but I bought a sandwich from them instead.

Finally, after a day of waiting, I boarded my plane to Long Beach. Since I had gotten the last ticket available (at least that's what the Jet Blue agent had told me), I had a middle seat, but even that wasn't too bad. The first thing that I noticed when I finally got settled was that none of the TVs in our row was working. All we had was static. The guy sitting in the aisle seat asked the flight attendant about it, but she gave us some vague answer and was really no help at all. He asked her again once we were in the air, and she was again no help but offered us cocktails to make up for it. I had no interest in a cocktail, but the man next to me sure thought it was a great idea. Over the course of the flight, he indulged in 5 cans of Heineken, though he did have to pay for most of them. I didn't really mind,except that by the time the plane landed, it smelled like I was in a brewery.

The reason that I didn't make a big deal about the TV was that I had planned to sleep for most of the trip home. Unfortunately, the baby across the aisle from us didn't think that was a very good idea. He decided to scream at the top of his lungs for most of the trip--loud enough to wake me out of a sound sleep every half hour or so. I think that's one of the reasons the man next to me kept drinking so much. After about 3 hours of trying to sleep, I gave up and worked on my advanced math workshop for the rest of the time--even though my advanced math workshop was going on in Pasadena without me!

The plane finally landed without incident at Long Beach. Then we taxied for a reeaaallllllllllyyyyyy llllllloooooooonnnnnnnnngggggggggg time. And once we got to the gate, it took even longer for them to open up the doors and let us out. People were getting really hostile, but I was just SOOO happy to be on the west coast! Pop was there to meet me when I got off of the plane, and soon I was home and sleeping in my own bed!

2 comments:

Will K. said...

Glad you got home safe with all of those crazy delays and re-routes. Isn't the DC Metro nice? It's my favorite in the US.

I think the train is my favorite way to travel. I was blown away by the Via Rail in Canada.

PMKat said...

I like the DC Metro, too. I'd been on it before, but it had been a while.

I'd love to do a train trip sometime . . . when I have the time and am not freaking out . . .

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