I left my precious children in the care of my dad, my husband, and Bonnie's husband, Grampy Ralph.
It was my first multi-night trip away from my kids....ever. We'd been planning it since February. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew I was good and ready. I spent (at least) five days preparing. I had to organize the house, so that Grampy Ralph wouldn't be horrified at the state of things. I had to stock the refrigerator so that Grandpa Jack would find plenty of things to cook. I had to NOT mop the floor, because Grandpa Jack would be cooking in there for days on end. I had to write a 15 page document so that all the guys would know what to do, where ballet class is, who to call for help, where the pediatrician is. I had to pack and also worked on arranging the transportation to the city.
Friday afternoon my parents and Bonnie and Ralph arrived. We had lunch. I pulled out the Binder of Bossiness and briefed the men. And then, we ladies got the HELL out of here. YEEEEEEEEEHAWWWWWWWW!
I figured it made more sense to drive north to catch the train, rather than driving south. It really made the train prices go down and Philly had the best train schedule. ROOKIES! Total rookie mistake! At the grocery checkout line in my town, a grocery employee asked me why we weren't taking the bus. It is only $27 to take the bus, he said. Hmmmm. Once we got through the heinous Friday afternoon traffic in downtown Philly, and had a moment of panic about maybe there is no parking at this station, we figured out the long term parking was $25. A NIGHT. Whoops!
We country bumpkins staggered our way through the train station, blindly searching for the blue Amtrak QuickTrack Kiosk. Not the blue NJ Transit or the blue SEPTA one, or even the blue ATM. (Really USA? Does it have to be so confusing!?) Then, we staggered our way on board, bumping everyone with our giant suitcases and lugging shit up and down various cars finding NO SEATS on board. We finally settled in, knees smack up against the knees of strangers. Eventually after it got going, we managed to find some seats in the same row. I got Auntie Bonnie settled in next to us and we were off!
Well, if we thought Philly train station was something, we had no idea what hit us in NY's Penn Station. Hoooooo-eeee. I just figured we'd get off Amtrak, look for signs for the Subway and then find the map on the wall, figure out what Subway stop we wanted and then get on that train. Because it would make sense that way. Because, after all, that is how it works in Tokyo, Seoul, Washington D.C., Boston and any other subway system I've ever been on. But not Penn Station. Oh no. I am fairly certain this station/subway/train....system (for lack of a better word) was designed by some suits with a sick senses of humor in a high rise who had never soiled themselves in the subway. Or maybe by a pack of drunken monkeys.
I don't even have the space here to go into exactly all that happened, but I think we were stuck in various turnstiles/escalators/elevators/hallways/customer service windows for quite some time. Apparently, some trains change directions at rush hour. But that isn't written down on the signs. And sometimes even though you are technically going uptown, you are actually on the downtown train. Because why would we want things to be obvious? That would take all the fun out of it.
We made it. Eventually. And Bonnie got us a FREE upgrade to the Zen Suite. I'm not even kidding. It had a wrap around terrace, a giant bedroom, two bathrooms, a huge living room.....it even had a hallway with zen lighting. Unheard of in New York...usually you are wedged in a tiny closet that is dubbed a "room." Who are the country bumpkins now? Unbelievable.
Next installment, tomorrow.....need to feed my kids something other than cookies for breakfast.