Friday, August 26, 2005

Random Vacation Thoughts: Part 1

I was trying to write some sort of huge 5 part posting talking about our whole trip across the U.S. and back, but have come to realize that if I go about it that way, it will NEVER, EVER be either completely written or posted . . . it will just sit inside my head and reside on bits of paper in fragments.

So without further ado, here are my random thoughts about our Random vacation:

I read the departure time on our ticket out of D.C. wrong, thinking that were leaving an hour later than we were supposed to. Luckily, I looked at the ticket again the night before and realized my error (I had mixed up the time with another departure ticket for later in the trip) but it still threw a huge monkey wrench into our schedule for the next day.

I hadn’t finished my newsletter for work until the morning of the trip. I was going to stay up all night and finish it, but I didn’t start packing until kind of late Wednesday night and then I was too tired and incoherent to do anything else. So I got up early on Thursday, buckled down and send it out to be edited . . . all before 10 AM.

J, our house-sitter, came over Wednesday night too, just so that we could get him settled in and answer any questions . . . and also so the Random Cat could get used to him with us still there. We ordered Pizza and watched lots of Comedy Central and Cartoon Network until midnight . . . when I started packing. Yes, that was bad, but we were having a grand old time . . .

Had to go to a going away lunch for our interns on Thursday, just a couple of hours before the cab was supposed to pick us up to go to Union Station. We showed up in shorts and sandals, looking pretty out of character for a work day, but the lunch was fun and our interns certainly were stars this summer, so I really wanted to be there.

We got home just in time to put the bags out and make sure we didn’t forget anything. Mr. Random still managed to forget his shampoo on the living room table, but otherwise, things went smoothly, although we felt really rushed and frantic.

Train to Chicago: Uneventful, but I was so tired I slept a lot. Got there Friday afternoon. We had a “layover” before the train to L.A., so we were walking around downtown Chicago and I was taking lots of photos with my B&W camera. Mr. Random forgot the digital camera in his bag at the station, for which I gave him heck because I wanted to take a ton of shots in color. I think I love Chicago . . . it has a great city vibe, without the ego and self-pretension of DC. We saw a cafĂ© that just sells cereal all day. That’s right . . . nothing but cereal and related stuff. We didn’t go in, but I took pics of the outside because I thought the idea was so cool. When we got home this week, I found out they are a chain . . . wouldn’t mind seeing one here! Otherwise we just walked along the river and looked around at the buildings. There was even a lunchtime street festival with a band and everything. Very awesome!

Train to LA: Uneventful and got in on time. We’ve done this before so nothing to remarkable to report. However, one of the servers in the dining car remembered us from our trip two years ago. How random is that! Also, we were on the train with about 150 kids who were in a youth dance troupe who were on their way to Disneyland to perform. Had lunch with two of the chaperoning parents who were from the Norfolk area. Small world! Also, there were about 80 Boy Scouts on the train, on their way to go hiking in New Mexico. I’m so glad we were in the sleeper car . . . it would have been hell in Coach – trying to get some sleep with 200 middle-high school aged kids joking around, being kids. They were pretty well behaved otherwise though . . . it was the kids who weren’t with any group and who were being “watched” by their own parents who seemed to be acting the holy terrors.

Into The Glass Menagerie: Week at the home of Mr. Random’s Mom and Sister. Did you all read the Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie? or see the movie? Imagine if Tom, the brother, got married and brought his wife home to that situation. And I’m the wife. It was horrible, and Mr. Random felt horrible because it was horrible, and I felt horrible because it was horrible, but I tried to keep Mr. Random’s spirits up and remind him that there was a reason that he moved across the country and isn’t he doing fine now? The less said about this the better. However, I did get a lot of running done that week, because we really needed to get out of the house every day, and that was as good an excuse as any.

Train LA to Portland: Hell continues. Mom Random comes along with us on the train to Portland since she’s never done a sleeper car before and wants to experience it. She was going to share a room with Sister Random, but Sister Random backs out at the last minute, for reasons wrapped up in the whole Glass Menagerie scenario above that I don’t want to get into. The train is supposed to leave at 10:15 AM on Friday. Mom Random calls a shuttle which comes to pick us up at 5:45 AM – you know, because we will be hitting the hellacious commuter traffic to LA and we want to make sure we get to the train station in time. Well, of course, miracle! There is NO traffic and we get to the train station at 7 AM. Three whole hours to kill. Mr. Random is lousy at waiting anyway, but with his mom there, who also is spastic and can’t sit still, they both go into high fidgits. I’m just trying to be Zen and sit quietly at the station, drinking my iced mocha and reading my book, but nooooo – the other two are up-down-up-down-fidget-fidget-rustle newspaper-up-down the WHOLE time . . . until 10 AM, when we see that our train is going to be delayed. This freaks out Random Mom who is antsy to get going, because we have to be in Portland at a certain time tomorrow because folks are having a cookout for us that night, blah, blah, blah.

First of all, you don’t take the train if you want split second accuracy. Trains always get delayed due to the primacy of freight train traffic on the tracks, so you have to be kind of flexible about when you’ll get in. Secondly, on this route they specifically say on the tickets and when you buy the tickets that there is work being on the tracks, so trains are usually substantially delayed this summer. So you shouldn’t schedule anything around the arrival time and just go with the flow . . . we’re on VACATION, darn it!

But Mom Random has waited long enough and is now complaining to everyone about how crappy the trains are and how we’re going to be late and now we have to call Random Aunt and Uncle and tell them we’re going to be late and ruin their cookout and blah, blah. Hey, it’s not my fault we got here 3 hours early – chill out! So, it becomes 12 noon and the train isn’t there yet and Mom Random is still freaking and bringing Mr. Random with her. I suggest that they both go take a walk outside and have a nice lunch and leave me with the bags to read my book in peace. (Because they were both getting on my bloody nerves!) But no, she wouldn’t hear of it, and so we went to lunch in the station at a pretty nice restaurant (if way pricey), where she continued to complain. Mr. Random knew that I was on my last nerves and tried to keep me calm while at the same time trying to humor his mom.

So the train is finally ready at 1 PM. We hustle and hop on. Me and Mr. Random have a sleeper room in one car and Mom Random is in the other. Mr. Random goes back and forth to check on his mom. The train route is beautiful . . . it goes up the Pacific coast along the ocean though San Luis Obispo and then it goes inland through some lovely mountain areas. Such gorgeous views! Unfortunately, it was very foggy and overcast over the ocean, but still beautiful just the same. (Pictures will be forthcoming.) Mom Random gets out at all of the smoking stops (because smoking is not allowed on the train and she smokes, like, 2 packs a day. Despite her killer cough. And the fact she has been to the emergency room twice in the past month, including the first night we were at her house. But I digress . . .) We arrive in Portland seven hours late. More complaints commence.

I really felt bad for Mr. Random on this trip . . . It was very hard for him to deal with all of this stuff coming at him at once . . . and also stuff that’s been festering for a while. I was really hoping that time at his grandmother’s would go much better than the first part of the trip . . . it just HAD too, for both our sakes.

To be continued . . .

1 comment:

Virginia Gal said...

Just got back from Greece - but boy you had an adventure. In another post I'd love to learn more about the Glass Manegerie thing - I read that play twice in two different classes in high school, it creeped me out both times. Can't imagine it being played out in real life. Scary.