Sunday, March 14, 2010

Escape from New York

I had other titles for this post, but I decided to stick with the one that felt most like the situation we were in yesterday.

Was it only yesterday?

Last weekend, when it was spring, we got the bright idea to go to New York on Saturday. And bought the bus tickets online. We didn't buy round trip tickets because we weren't sure when we wanted to come back. We decided we'd take the train home.

The day didn't start off well: leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. when it's bucketing down rain is a Bad Idea. Then the bus was late, apparently due to the first bus breaking down. I think, "Well, at least we weren't on it when it broke down." At this point, I'm still wishing we'd slept in.

We got to NY on time and had late breakfast with Elizabeth and a young man named Jack who was sporting a very dashing mustache. I also got to meet Elizabeth's blue trenchcoat. We went to Paron's, where this lovely silk panel print followed me out. I also got some lining fabric. So far, so good.

Elizabeth and Jack had to leave, but Mario and I continued on. A brief stop at Pacific Trims got me some bamboo bag handles and a zipper (on the list). We stopped in at the FIT Museum to see their exhibits: American Beauty, which reminded me of the Isabel Toledo exhibit because it made me want to go home and sew, and Night & Day, which had a lot of beautiful pieces. I only set off the alarm once by leaning too close to a vintage Dior day dress. Take a walk through the exhibit. Try not to drool on your keyboard.

For Ralph Rucci fans, the American Beauty exhibit is a must - you can lean and see all the wonderful detail that doesn't always come through in photographs. Carolyn and LindsayT, I'm talking to you!

After that, we went to the Chelsea Flea Market, where some vintage buttons and a couple of Bakelite buckles insisted on coming home with me. Late lunch at a little French restaurant recommended by Mario's co-worker, and we were ready to go home. The play I helped costume was closing last night and we were invited to the stage strike and closing party.

All the while, it's been raining. The wind is so bad walking back to the station that I gave up on my umbrella and got soaked, because we'd be home in a few hours. Or not, as it turned out.

Because apparently this wasn't a rain storm. This storm was freaking biblical.

We left Penn Station on the 3:52 p.m. express to Trenton. Because of flooded switches, it took us almost 2 hours to get to Newark. For those who don't know their East Coast geography, that's spitting distance from New York. From there, it took another hour to get to Rahway, NJ, where the train suddenly stopped making train noises and started to coast into the station, and the female conductor's voice came over the speaker saying, "Oh, no . . . ."

Oh, yes. New Jersey Transit had lost power. Electric trains go nowhere without electricity, you see. So we were stuck there. Still wet, growing crankier by the minute. It's going on 7:00 p.m. by this point. We comment that we might be late to the party.

Two hours later, we're still sitting there. They've promised us a diesel train - to take people back to NY - or some shuttle buses, to take us on to the rest of the station stops. But the buses haven't arrived. All of a sudden, everyone gets up. It's like watching an entire flock of birds take flight at the same time. We all get up and go downstairs to look for the buses. When they come, it's like something out of a disaster movie, pushing, shoving, screaming, one poor transit cop trying to keep order.

We end up on the second bus out. The driver, who came down from NY after a full work day, had been told he was bringing people back to NY. The transit cop and station personnel informed him otherwise, and about 100 wet, angry, frustrated travelers were more than he could argue with. Besides, he needed our help to find the stations, because he wasn't familiar with New Jersey, and half the roads he needed were (a) flooded out, (b) had trees lying across them, or (c) were flooded out and had trees lying across them. We were also driving in pitch dark, because hardly anywhere had power.

We made it to Trenton at 12:30 a.m. The last train to Philadelphia left at 1:00 a.m. Trust me, we were on it. We got home at 2:00, which promptly became 3:00 a.m., because the clocks went forward.

All I could think of, as I finally got into dry socks, dry clothes, and my bed, was if I spent 10 hours cramped into an uncomfortable seat, I should have been getting off a plane in Paris.

Know what, though? I think I had a good time yesterday. But like labor, I think the memory of the pain needs to fade before I can really appreciate it.


Vicki said...

Oh my goodness!! Lucky you got home safely.......eventually :)

AllisonC said...

That sounds like a complete nightmare, maybe you'll be able to laugh about it one day...maybe...

Sue said...

The weather everywhere is doing horrible things - so sorry you had such a bad time of it!

Elaray said...

Sounds like the kind of trip where you kiss the floor when you finally get home!

gwensews said...

Oh no! I think if I ever got to New York, I would not ever want to leave. See what happens when you do?

Little Hunting Creek said...

Oh no! I hate when this sympathies

Becky said...

2 hours to Newark? Ouch. (On the rare occasions that I take NYC day trips, Newark is usually where my friends and I park and then we take transit into the city. So I know exactly what you're talking about.)

Hopefully in retrospect, it'll be a good adventure story. And at least you got some good loot out of it--I'm drooling over that fabric in particular!

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Ohmygosh no you weren't on that last NJTransit train before they shut down the system?!!!

Am I the only one who listens to weather reports and believes them? But seriously that storm was biblical...I had a drs appt that had to be cancelled because the lights went out in that part of town and they just got them back up this morning.

I'm happy you have good memories of it though!

Nancy K said...

Incredible, horrible weather! I'm glad you made it home ok. Look on the bright side, at least you glided into the station, you could have been on the train that was stuck for 5 hours before a diesel engine towed it into a station.

Digs said...

Wow - shocking weather you poor NE-eners have had this season. I just saw the floods on TV! Tons of sympathy!

Michelle said...

Oh, my! Your "escape" sounds absolutely hair-raising! But I am glad you made it home safe.

Gretchen the Household Deity said...

Oh my goodness! What a crazy ride!!! I'm glad you finally made it home.

Meg said...

Geez, Karen, what an ordeal! Yeah, that was a bad weekend we all endured in the tri-state area.

deb said...

Oh my, but I just had to write to say, could going through all that for that print silk panel possibly be worth it? That panel is STUNNING!!!