Monday, July 25, 2005

More Bus

Delaware Water Gap – it’s really been a long time since I’ve been in this area. Quite beautiful! Nice old brick train station falling down – roof is caving in – actually consists of two buildings – 1 track.

The Poconos – honeymoon destination – still rustic- of course I can only see what is near the highway.

Binghamton – food finally – Wendy’s sour cream and chives potato – 4:30 breakfast was a stale machine sandwich in Baltimore. The rest of the day has been M&M peanuts. Good thing I bought them last week.

Kilmer’s Building Restoration in Binghamton (ask Jim about it). Is BIG commercial realtor sign on another building stating it is AVALIABLE indicative of general education level of Binghamton, birthplace of IBM?

I don’t like Binghamton. I didn’t 16 years ago, and it appears to be uglier now. Kind of a wasteland – abandoned and dilapidated houses and storefronts – dismal – would be worse in winter. There was a possibility of moving to the area back then, and I’m glad I didn’t. A lot of my stuff was stored there when I was spending winters in Florida then California, and eventually I sold a lot of it and moved the rest to the Buffalo area, then California.

There is an interesting large abandoned church – nice architecture – many windows boarded up – some stained glass remaining – weeds and vines growing up over it.

Riding from Binghamton to Ithaca, then along Cayuga Lake – didn’t see that area last year – too busy with dying mother. Last year was not a time for fun and sightseeing. Went past the end of the street of my mother’s house. Most likely I’ll never be in the house again, even though my brother managed to figure out a way to receive the house for free.

I left the bus in Geneva, NY. The station is across the road from Seneca Lake – a “new” station since last year – an old, remodeled gas station with a tile roof. Cute! My sister Dottie picked me up at 7:00 P.M. Thus started a week of busy days attending parties, traveling, sightseeing, eating out, visiting people.

The day after my arrival, we went to Penn Yan, where my four kids were born. Dottie and her husband Joe have had a big disagreement as to the location of the apartment I lived in when my first two kids were born. I pointed out the house, which is a couple of doors from the beautiful new Court House on the street. Then we went around the corner and along North Main Street, enjoying all of the Victorians, many of which are now Painted Ladies. I barely remember the wonderful old houses. Most likely I was too busy being a young mother to enjoy them as much as I could have, although it seems that people today are more involved in restoration projects than they were in the early 60’s.

The next day, Saturday, was spent preparing for the Sunday surprise 25th anniversary picnic for my youngest sister, Marty and her husband Jim. The picnic was at Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake. The day dawned bright and beautiful – a wonderful time to sit in chairs overlooking the lake, under the trees in the breeze. Dottie, Joe and I went to the park early to reserve tables and grills in a good spot, set up our chairs, and then just sat there enjoying the view and the day, while waiting for the others to show up.

Daughter Coral, Arthur, kids, and Jim C were the first to arrive, and they drove the farthest. They live near Buffalo. Brother Bruce, wife, two daughters, son-in-law, and two grandsons came. Dottie’s two offspring, one spouse, and two kids attended. Sister Jamie, her daughter Robin, son-in-law, two babies from Cincinnati, Robin’s in-laws , and Jamie’s daughter Tess, then, of course, Marty, Jim, and their three girls came at last.

It was a totally beautiful day. Everyone had a good time. The kids went swimming, and Bruce’s son-in-law brought his boat from Northern New York, so some people went for rides. The food was great, and everyone ate tons of it. Jolene, Dottie’s daughter made a gorgeous 25th Anniversary cake. She bakes professionally as a side job, and her cakes are absolute works of art.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bus Trip Day 2

It’s the Washington Monument again – in the foggy distance. We just went right by the Pentagon. Impressive! Crossing the Potomac now – Jefferson Memorial up close – Lincoln Memorial in the distance. Tunneling under a lot of buildings now.

We’re beside the National Arboretum. I went there once. Now, Goddard Space Center Employees Only sign. Baltimore – Washington Parkway – all woods on sides, with deer crossing signs.

9:00 A.M. – if I was on the train, I would have long since been eating breakfast. Good thing I had an apple leftover. OK – Baltimore Travel Plaza – time to eat. Actually, that was dismal, nothing good there, a very poor excuse for a terminal.

New Jersey – vine (kudzu?) growing up electric pole with two arms growing out along wires – looks like a giant green man.

New York, New York - in the haze, the Empire State Building. Just went past the Newark airport sprawl. When was I last in NYC? It’s been quite a while, I think. Many swans on a large pond area. Saw the Chrysler Building. I can remember when it was part of my view out the windows when I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch in the late 50’s (on the upper floors, offices) at 45th and Madison. A & F is not there anymore. When I went to NY in the 80’s, the building had been replaced with a Japanese bank building.

I almost missed the bus to Geneva at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. After retrieving my baggage, I stood in line in the ladies’ room, wondering if I dared brush my teeth, with a sign stating no bathing, shaving, laundering, and the attendant standing right there. Good thing I didn’t try. I wouldn’t have been sitting on this bus.

A guy who didn’t speak a lot of English directed me to the man to ask for directions to the gate I needed for Geneva (Port Authority has 100 or 200 gates according to the driver from Fayetteville). The guy who didn’t speak much English said he’d take me to the gate, up an escalator, along a corridor, down another escalator, and he carried two pieces of luggage. I was loaded down – I don’t have to do that on the train – you check it and don’t see it until you get where you are going.

Gate 62 was what I was told. Just as we were arriving there, I heard an announcement “Last call bus to Geneva Gate 66”. I informed the guy, tipped him and he took my luggage to the other gate and put it beside the bus. I’m sure he was there hoping for tips, but he was worth it. I had a brief thought about not allowing someone to take your bags, but I was with him and I had basically sized him up as being someone who was hoping for a couple of bucks.

---I can’t stand the thought of unclean teeth. So I brushed them while sitting here on the bus; a bit of toothpaste on the brush, really brushed a lot, wiped my mouth and brush with a napkin, drank water out of a bottle – all refreshed now. A shower and change of clothes would be good, but it’s not as bad as a cross-country bus trip (which I hope never to do again).

I only slept off and on last night. I was very uncomfortable and I guess the baby was, too. She was crying a lot, and her Mom and Dad had a hard time quieting her. The mother stood in line with the baby and other girls, at the station in Fayetteville, NC until after 2:00 A.M. (over 2 hours), talking to me and the two ladies who were traveling in front of me. She told us they had only been in this country for 4 months, from Albania. She spoke English fairly well, and the girls seemed to have no problem with the language. They were traveling from Florida to New Haven to stay with her cousin for a lengthy period. Her brother and several other family members live in Greece.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Travel Time --- again

Notes on the Greyhound bus trip from Florida to New York State – late June

On the bus – just left Orlando – a deluge – guess it rains “a lot” (bus driver’s words) in Orlando. Orlando is rather attractive, with nice, older homes.

The day started out not too great. Bob and the little girls took me to the Tampa bus station, where I was told the bus was overbooked – “first come, first served” (the agent was a not particularly friendly woman).

I was getting prepared to be really angry. “You’re kidding!” I had purchased my ticket a couple of weeks earlier and never assumed there would be a problem.

Then the ticket agent said, “Oh, wait a minute. They’re putting on a second bus.”

It has been confusion so far. We were supposed to reboard that bus in Orlando after a break, but just as we got off, they said they were taking it out of service. Finding out what bus to get on, and when, was rather a production.

Well, we are finally on, and luckily we have a great driver – tells us jokes, etc. His poor wife, if he has one, is the butt of a lot of them.

---Oh, yeah, Mount Dora, I remember that place from when we used to do shows and markets down here. We’re on I4.

Anyway, the driver told us we are going to hotshot to Fayetteville – no stop in Jacksonville and Savannah. That should cut off some time, but I’ll probably have to kill more time in NYC. Glad I grabbed a hot dog.

I hate taking the bus. I have already handled ALL of my luggage more than I care to. I don’t have to do that on the train. When traveling by bus, you are totally responsible for all of your luggage, so if you transfer or have to change buses for any reason, you have to manhandle (or womanhandle) everything while in the stations. At my age, with my health problems, it is a real pain. I love the train.

---Daytona Beach – Hi, cousin Barbara. She lives in Port Orange. I usually see her in NYS at family reunions, although I have seen her in Florida a lot, in 1990. When I was spending the winter selling at antique shows, I had my mail forwarded to her home, and then picked it up every few days.

This hasn’t been much of a hotshot ride. An accident in which an 18 wheeler dumped its load of boxes caused traffic to be backed up for what seemed like hours. We spent a long time just sitting or crawling along in pouring rain - a good reason to take a nap.

We have been moving along now, though, even in the rain. At times it has been so dark it seemed to be twilight. We are finally in Georgia – even the kids on the bus have felt as though we’d never get out of Florida. Not much traffic out there now, at least not Northbound.

There is a month old Armenian baby across from me, and two little girls, her sisters. In another seat across from me – a young girl and her older brother – NY bound. A couple of seats in front of me there is a 7 year old girl – a rather precocious child; she sounds like Lissa. Her daddy is a driver for Greyhound, and she has a Greyhound cap. She and her Mom are headed to Connecticut, as are the ladies right in front of me.

The natives are getting restless – the kids that is. The boy across from me, early teens, apparently is annoying his dippy mother, who is sitting behind him. He’s not particularly doing anything serious, but she keeps saying in a loud voice, “Knock it off, Joseph!”

His reply this time was “You need to lower your voice; you are disturbing all the customers who are sleeping.”

He’s right. She is louder than he is, and reminds me of Adam Sandler’s neurotic, dippy wife in “Spanglish”.