Saturday, December 12, 2009

Homeward bound

With a train departure at 7:30 in the morning, we prepared last night for an early departure by doing as much as possible in advance so we could be out fast in the morning. We had everything packed except about three cables, three toiletry items, two articles of clothing, and a few food items from the fridge. We checked out ahead of time so we could just drop off the keys and go, and the hotel arranged a cab to meet us at 6:45 so we could be at the train station by 7am as Amtrak required. That way we could set the alarm as late as 6am.

Ultimately we woke up early enough that we ended up sitting around killing time. It left us a chance for one last pass through the continental breakfast, and I got to read some of my email and the comics. Then we went down to turn in our keys and the desk clerk commented on how he'd been just about to call us for our 6:45 wakeup call.

This set up red flags for me, but he assured us the cab would be there on time. When 6:45 came and went, and we asked, despite that we'd been very clear last night and again mentioned that the cab was supposed to be at 6:45 (just before he assured us it would be on time), he had actually arranged the cab for 7. He called to expedite it, but even so it arrived only about two minutes before 7.

I wasn't too worried since the actual departure at 7:30 meant a 7:00 arrival left plenty of slack, but one can't help wonder if Amtrak's got reasons for asking for that much lead time. Siobhan was far more worried because she's a worrier by nature. Every minute her lips got a little tighter. The cabbie was brisk and businesslike, there wasn't much traffic, and while we didn't get a seat at the waiting area at the gate, we otherwise arrived with time to spare.

The train was fully booked on the southern end so we were packed in pretty tight, but that eased up at New York City, and I got a window seat in a row to myself. However, at that point, we picked up a family with a small child who was periodically crying. I drowned it out with Christmas music on the Bluetooth headphones, but Siobhan just grimaced more and more as the day wore on.

This time I have some soda in my bag, so if we can wangle a bit of ice, I should be all set, and even if we can't, I can get by on gradually-warmer cola. We got meat pies from Acadiana last night for tonight's dinner, but they don't do po'boys at dinnertime so we couldn't get a few of those for lunch. Fortunately, a half hour stop at Penn Station in NYC is more than enougn to run upstairs and get some Taco Bell (which is, sadly enough, a treat since we can't get it back home, and awful though it is, it's a familiar, desirable kind of awful -- as unrelated to Mexican food as a corny summer popcorn movie is to inspiring theater, and in the same way, both are desirable on different days and in different ways).

Spent the latter half of the train ride writing; turns out to be a good place for that, and I guess after a while since last time I did it, I was ready. And now, at last, back home. Traveling is double-good because coming home is just as nice as going away was.

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