Taking a train back home -- 03/08/02

Here I am, bumping along on an Amtrak train again -- this section of tracks leaving New York City is not supplying a smooth ride -- these can't be the tracks the Acela express uses -- nothing could travel at 120 miles per hour on these tracks. Ah, but I know the ride will be better in a few minutes, once we get out of wherever we are -- I guess we're in the Bronx right now, heading to cut across southern Westchester County and then into Connecticut -- I am just guessing at that -- mostly a very non-scenic view, railyards and warehouses and rusted urban debris and fog, thickening fog -- Anyway, I'm on a train headed home and very grateful to be on this train.

I hadn't purchased a return ticket ahead of time because I did not know what time the class I was teaching would finish up. Based on experience (four previous times teaching it) I expected to finish around lunch time today, but that wasn't completely certain, things could have gone on until mid-afternoon... so I didn't know if I could make the 2:56 train or the 5:56 train. As it turned out, we did finish up early enough for me to get to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia around 1:30 or so... but when I went to purchase tickets, the 2:56 was sold out... as was the 5:56... so the next train I could get would be one that didn't leave until after eleven o'clock at night and would get me to my stop in Rhode Island about quarter to five in the morning! (An AmTrak ticket clerk told me it was because of college students going on break... and, in fact, there were significant numbers of passengers in the right age group to support that theory.) Obviously I was quite distressed by this.

I phoned home and left a message on our answering machine and tried to think of alternatives. One thought was to see if I could get to New York City, maybe I could drop in and see Adam and Leah, maybe crash overnight and catch a train home on Saturday... then I wondered if I could get a seat on the Acela express to Providence and have Nancy drive up there and pick me up. (It might seem silly to pay more to take a train to a stop thirty miles past where I want to get off, but the Acela express is traveling at least one hundred twenty miles and hour as it passes through my station.) And then an AmTrak ticket agent called me over; she could get me a ticket on the 2:56 train. I had planned on taking business class but here I am in coach -- but it's still roomier and more comfortable than airline seating -- and I would have been willing to stand the whole way if it meant I could be on this train.

I never did get to the are museum this week... the only evening hours are on Wednesday... but by the time I got back to my hotel after work on Wednesday it was already around six o'clock and I was really tired after another long day of teaching and being on my feet. I kicked my shoes off and flopped down on the bed for a few minutes... No, I didn't fall asleep... but I could not generate the energy to put my shoes back on and head off on a half an hour hike to the museum... to have less than an hour and a half to look at the art work... and then have to face another long walk back to my hotel. So instead I booted my laptop and replicated my Notes email and reviewed a few things for the next day's class, then went up to have dinner in the hotel restaurant. When I got back to my room I surfed through the channels and found 3000 Miles to Graceland on HBO -- well, I didn't know at first what movie it was, having missed the opening, when I tuned in they were just a minute or so away from the big shoot-out in the casino. So I settled down on the bed and watched the rest of the movie.

I think I may have bruised my right heel in that race on Sunday... there was a steep downhill section and running downhill can be hazardous to your knees and your heels... My room was the last one the corridor before the entrance to the fitness center... and yet I didn't use any of the workout equipment all week... the thought of jogging on a treadmill for two or three miles before walking to work and spending the day on my feet just failed to hold much appeal. Last night, however, I did use the hot tub. I had been given a coupon for a free drink at the hotel lounge when I checked in (they also gave me a gift bag with two bottles of water... which I really appreciated once I'd tasted Philadelphia tap water!) So I went up to the bar and enjoyed a nice cold beer, then came back down to my room and changed and went into the pool area and settled down on the rim of the hot tub with a book. Ahhhh, that swirling hot water felt so good on my feet and legs.. in a few minutes I moved chest deep into the water. After almost half an hour of hot tub I was nicely relaxed... went back to me room and showered, then read in bed for almost five minutes before I was sound asleep.

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