This is NOT the part where I talk about riding a train.
I planned on riding a train all the way to New York, but it was too fucking expensive.
Now that you’ve spent the entire week reading up about how awesome TribeUp NYC was, and sad you should be at having missed it, I get to make you feel even shittier!
You should totally wish you travelled with us, because my life is a freaking riot.
Riding a train did NOT happen between Ohio and New Jersey.
I wish it had, cost be damned.
First, there is a butt-load of construction along the interstate highways from my home in Dayton all the way to the East Coast. And apparently it’s just always been this way. Or at least it has for the past ten years. I know this for a FACT, via my very own eyebobbles.
My parents used to live in Pennsylvania, so at least once a year my sister and I would take a ten-plus-hour road trip to visit them. And the stupid construction, with its walls and tight lanes and orange cones and scary barrels — these barriers to safe travel were always present. Ten years ago. And they’re still present today.
Why isn’t there a protest? This can’t be right. It’s like one of those black-n-white science fiction programs where people get stuck in a time warp and never progress, but they don’t KNOW they’re stuck, so they’re doomed to keep repeating whatever stupid action they were engaged in when the warp hit. But there’s always this ONE person (in this case, *ME*) who is aware of the situation, only that person ends up going insane because no one will listen.
I’m, like, mother-fucking Cassandra and shit. She was loopy for good reason. And now I get it. Poor Cassandra. I feel you, babe.
So construction. (Not riding a train.)
At one point during a non-moving part of our (looooong) trip, the hubz turned to me and said,
“This construction sucks ballz!”
I placated him by agreeing,
“Big hairy donkey ballz, Love.”
It was placating because he probably didn’t realize that “THIS” construction is happening from east to west in an infinite capacity, and I was nice enough to keep my Cassandra-like observations to myself. Of course, when he reads this, he’ll know I was patting him on the head, and might just delete this whole paragraph.
Even though we got an exceptionally late start — had to wait till the baby got off the school bus, then dropped her at my mom’s for the weekend, then went to the mall to find out there is no such thing as boots that fit Andi-Roo, then settled on a pair of $16 stupid, sparkly slippers, then had a consolation prize brownie from a nearby fast-food drive-through — we made pretty decent time.
We reached a TA (Travel Centers of America) in Bloomsbury, NJ at about 4am, so we parked there for the night and took a siesta in our car. A lot of people find this shocking — sleeping in our car instead of a hotel — but we didn’t have hundreds of dollars to waste on a hotel room. And when you’re super tired, you’ll find you can curl up anywhere to catch some ZZZs. We had zero problems getting to sleep.
We’re almost at the “Riding a Train” portion of my story.
The next morning, we were able to shower at the TA for less than $15 (much more affordable than a hotel room!) and they even provided towels.
If you ever go this route, be sure to bring your flip-flops / shower-shoes / pool-side-slides / what-have-you. Fortunately, we were prepared. Ringworm was NOT in our future!
But riding a train WAS in our future!
Wait — we’re not riding a train yet.
OMG! I almost forgot one of the funniest parts of our trip!
So it’s like stupid-o’clock in the morning, before we got into New Jersey, while we were still traipsing through Pennsylvania.
We were tooling around some town looking for a McD’s so as to utilize its wi-fi and thereby update our GPS. Found the spot, got what we needed, and were about to exit — the wrong way, since it was night and there wasn’t any traffic and anyway who cares?
I looked out my window and my eyes popped out of my head.
Yeah, all one breath. That sentence happened.
That sentence happened, too.
So he grappled with the wheel to try and make it NOT be turning left. And was somehow able to make it turn right instead. Amazing. If I am Cassandra, my hubz is fucking Hercules.
But the cop wasn’t fooled, so he followed us into the parking lot where we had pulled in to collect our cool, which apparently became dislodged during the “turning” incident. Dude pulled up next to us and the hubz rolled down his window.
The cop laughed. Not a mean, “Ha ha, I got you NOW!” kind of laugh, which is what we expected, since in our experience cops tend to be bullying assholes who enjoy kicking you just because they can. Dicks.
It was more of a, “Ha ha, isn’t that just the funniest thing EVER?” kind of laugh. Friendly-like. This cop was our friend. He totally wanted to climb into our back seat and go riding a train with us.
“Sir you need to turn on your lights.”
Panic ensued. Not only had we been turning the wrong way, we were also driving in the night with no lights. We, in this particular instance, were complete douche-wagons.
“Hee-hee! I saw you start to turn left back there till you saw me. But I noticed your out-of-state plates, so I won’t fault you that.”
Yeah, he was like the nicest cope that EVER existed. No ticket. No warning. Nothing but goodhearted kindness. And directions back to the highway. I wish that guy would move to Ohio. I love him.
The Kentucky plates on our rental car came in handy, I guess. Which is nice, because I had really resented them up till that point. I felt like I should shout an explanation every time we pulled in somewhere that, “NO, my husband is NOT also my brother or cousin!” Stupid Kentucky. I hate you. But thanks for making us look too idiotic to make turns correctly!
I have now reached the part where we are riding a train!
The Edison train station in New Jersey is sparse, but parking only costs $4 for the entire day. So we parked our car and went in to buy train tickets. This was kind of scary, because neither of us had ever ridden a train, and thus had never purchased train tickets. There is a machine inside where you can take care of your entire transaction with zero human interference.
Which is cool. Because the human interference we experienced was less than desirable.
See, after our tickets popped out of the machine (I think it cost like $12 each), we were like, “Awesome. Where do we go now?”
A few people appeared to be walking through a set of double-doors, so we followed them outside, and found ourselves on a concrete slab which poured right down onto train tracks.
We noticed the passing trains went both directions. And we noticed an underground tunnel through which one might reach the opposite side of the tracks. And we realized we had no fucking clue which side of the tracks we needed to be on. The cities were simply labeled, arrows pointing to which city the trains were headed.
But since we’d never ridden a train before, the question begged:
“Do trains travel the same way cars do? As in, do they stick to the RIGHT side of the road / track / lane / path?”
So we went back inside, because this seemed a rather obvious question.
I don’t deal with unnecessary interpersonal communication. Because I always assume, and generally rightfully so, that the person on the other end will be a complete ass-hat. The Indian cashier lady did not disappoint.
“How do we know which side of the tracks to be on?”
Indian cashier lady:
“It’s written on the signs outside. All you have to do is read.”
Then as we walked away, she added once more, for effect, in case we were from Kentucky and didn’t understand her the first time:
“Read. Just read.”
I held it together till I got outside. Double-checked the signs. Nope — they still only pointed toward the cities, and in no way indicated which side of the tracks we should be on.
“Bitch, I know which way the cities are! That wasn’t my fucking question!”
“Babe, it’s all part of the experience. Welcome to New York, kind-of-thing. Let’s just assume the trains run the same way as cars. Worst case scenario, we get off at the first opportunity and buy tickets heading the other way.”
See why I married that guy?
A lot like a bus, actually. A bit anticlimactic, if I’m being honest. But I really liked the conductor, who made lots of funny speeches. I think he enjoyed his microphone.
“There’s a lavatory in every other car. That means BATHROOM.”
haha. hahahahahaha. Tell me that shit ain’t funny.
“Please be sure to flush after you have finished your business.
No one wants to see that you made potty.”
“Made potty.” tee-hee. OMG, I am loving this guy. Almost as much as that cop who wasn’t mean to us.
“Do NOT drink the water or you’ll spend the rest of the week in the bathroom.”
Dude actually followed this up with a laugh. Kind of sinister, but we couldn’t help laughing with him. That guy was one hoopy frood!
And that was the best part of riding a train.
On our way home, we took an alternate route, so the hubz could enjoy some Civil War stuff in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We didn’t exactly have our route planned, per se. By which I mean, we didn’t have our route planned in any way whatsoever.
So after we came out of Gettysburg, we picked a road that traveled west, and set forth into the setting sun. Sometime along the way, we passed a display of elephants and balloons and colorful signs the likes of which we’d never seen. So of course we had to turn around go back to see what the hellz was going on!
Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium is just about the coolest thing EVER! Inside the building are a krillion elephant collectibles made out of anything you can imagine, overseen by a ginormous elephant who appears to be standing guard over the peanuts and candy. There is an entire room sporting the biggest Pez dispenser collection I’ve ever seen. We picked up some nutty-snackles for the ride home, and some candy for the kids.
I forgot to mention this in my TribeUp NYC posts.
You should know, for the record, my hubz is a wanted man. The whole time we were at TribeUp NYC, everyone was totally jealous that I have someone to do all the work for me, so the only thing I have to do is write. Did I already call him Hercules? (See TribeUp NYC video here)
Honey, you only WISH you were riding that train! 😉