Interesting. Once again, the truth is almost exactly the opposite of what those with agendas would have us believe.
Interesting. Once again, the truth is almost exactly the opposite of what those with agendas would have us believe.
Who knew there would be an exciting 7th day added to this travel saga??? We can all thank Delta for that.
The Horner clam slept in until after 9:00, which I think is a record for all of us, at least since Hadley was born. The Marriott bed was absolutely the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I hadn't slept like that in years. Got up got dressed, and then we were, you guessed it, on a shuttle . . . headed back to the Newark airport . . . AGAIN . . .
As luck would have it, the gate agent that was presiding over last night's debacle was back on the job today. I let him have it, but in a calm, professional manner - i.e. I was as mean and loud and angry as I thought I could possibly be without being escorted out of the airport. He did issue us $100 each in Delta travel coupons, which he said was the most he had authority to do. Suggested we call Delta, and they would probably refund the room we had to pay for at the Marriott (I didn't mention to him that, luckily, Ash was able to use her Mercer credit card for that - thank god for corporate travel!). Maybe we can score more wonderful travel coupons, so that we can take more flights with Delta. Or, alternatively, I could stab myself in the eye with a fork.
Because of thunderstorms in Atlanta, they announced our flight would be delayed 25 minutes. Remember my rule of thumb? Any airport delay should be doubled, and then you pray that holds. Uh oh . . was it beginning again? would we ever make it out of this forsaken hell-hole of an airport?
Happily, the plane boarded only 45 minutes late. Then we sat on the tarmack. And waited. Eventually, our plane actually took off, and onlyan hour after its scheduled departure time. A new record for Newark. Once I looked to my right, and saw Ash had assumed her standard crash position, I knew that we were on our way home.
Well, today is our last day at our beautiful Jersey resort. Our flight doesn't leave until 4:55 (HA, that's a good one, more on this in a bit), and we have to check out at 11:00. So we go gorge ourselves once more on the delectable breakfast buffet.
Before I get to today's events, something I forgot about last night. They had the closing banquet for the Basil Ganglia thing. Dinner was great, and all that, but the best part was this Jersey stand-up comedian they had after dinner. Apparently the guy (Mike something) actually is pretty successful, plays in Vegas and has an HBO special coming out. Anyway, the guy was hilarious. He basically was like a toned-down, updated version of Andrew Dice Clay, only with an Italian-Jersey spin. The crowd was stunned. And not in a good way. Like in a "what the hell is going on here" way. Imagine a bunch of uptight, literal thinking, foreign scientists sitting there listening to this loud, crass, totally not politically correct, Jersey comedian. Ash and I laughed our asses off, but at least half the people seriously didn't know what to do. The guy even incorporated some of the science stuff into his routine. It was a late night, especially for Hadley who is generally in bed by 8:30 every night. It was probably 11:30 by the time we got back to the hotel, and she was exhausted, but what the heck, it's vacation.
Anyway, back to our last day. Well, almost last day. See, here's the thing. The Newark airport is absolute hell. People complain about the Atlanta airport, but you haven't seen bad airport until you've been through Newark. Sprawling, busy, nasty, and, oh, did I mention that they can't get a flight off on time to save their life??
So we show up WAY early for our flight, which is how we had it planned and the way the train schedule worked. Saw our flight had already been delayed until 5:15. Not, I know many would say I am a pessimist, but I like to think of myself as a realist. And, in my experience, when they delay a flight by 20--30 minutes that is almmost never the end of the story. So we get checked in, and get to the gate. And wait, and wait. And then they delay our flight until 6:00. And then 6:30. And then 7:30. Already, I know something is up. But no one is giving us any real information. Delayed until 8:00. 8:30. It's at this point you can feel the cancellation coming. Sure enough, at 8:45, they finally cancel our flight. Everyone is scrambling, and the Delta people are absolutely clueless. The lady tells me the best she can confirm me on is a flight at 1:50 the next day. I don't want to have to fly standby, so I accept this. Then, to placate me, she gives me some food vouchers and a hotel voucher so we can get a room for the night. At the Wyndam Garden at the airport. Sounds pretty nice, right? WELL NOT IF THERE ARE NO FUCKING ROOMS AT THE HOTEL. I digress.
So our next battle is getting our bags back. We sit around for a full hour waiting on them to unload our bags. Now, keep in mind, our plane never landed, so our bags never actually made their way onto an airplane. Why did it take an hour to get them, then? Beats the hell out of me. So we waited more.
Finally got our bags, caught a hotel shuttle (yet another form of transportation) adn got to the Wyndam. No rooms. That's right. NO DAMN ROOMS. Apparently Delta issued hotel vouchers like they were water, despite the fact that the hotel told them very plainly that there were only 20 rooms available. So I was given a voucher to a room that didn't exist just so the lady could be rid of me.
We call around for another hotel, and find a room at the Marriott. We could either take the shuttle back to the airport, and then take the Marriott shuttle, or just get a cab. We have the hotel guy call a cab. He says it should be there in a few minutes. It takes almost 30 minutes. The guy assures me the cab will take credit cards, because we are out of cash. The cab does not take credit cards. So we take the next available shuttle back to the airport.
We are now sitting back at the Newark airport, and it is 10:45, almost 6 hours after our flight was supposed to leave. Finaly get on the Marriott shuttle, and arrive at our hotel at 11:15. Hadley is about to collapse, as are all of us.
I have to say, though, Hadley handled the whole situation with complete and utter calmness and style. No fussing, no whining. None. For a six year old, I was SO proud of her. Even Dad about lost it at one point, but Hadley was just a trooper the whole way.
I'll keep it relatively short today. Hadley and I got in some good beach time today. I went swimming in the ocean quite a bit, which really is invigorating once you get used to the cold water. Hadley and I built a sand "Bikini Bottom" (Spongebob's hometown, for all you non-Spngebob fans out there). Will provide pics later.
More interaction with the creepy kids from Colorado today at the pool. Actually, just one. The little girl was apparently feeling sick" today (well, duh, they are sickly, creepy Colorado kids) and the little boy was crying and screaming about some boo boo on his leg. Yeesh.
A few words about the French, if I may. I know Americans are fat, loud and rude. But the streotype of rude French people is well-deserved. Me Ash and Hadley settled down for breakfast, and a couple of Frenchies joined our table. No big deal - it was set up this way, with large tables and for people to mingle. Well, this whole group of Frenchies invaded our table, then proceeded to completely ignore us and speak French the entire time, like we weren't even there. You have never had someone truly "lool down their nose at you" until a French person does it.
Today is the day Hadley has been waiting for - the day we travel into New York.
This was the source of much confusion at the beginning of our trip. She thought we were flying tinto New York, instead of Newark. That was kind of a bitter pill to swallow.
First things first, though. Another trip to the pool, then to the beach. And I finished The Passage by Cronin, which is 800 pages of total awesomeness. It's like a really cool and good Stephen King book, but if Stephen King was a good writer. Can't wait to read the next installment, although The Passage could exist as a stand-alone novel.
Also, had an awesome lunch at the hotel. The highlight (and, indeed, one of the highlights of my trip) was this peanut butter and chocolate cake. Holy crap it was good. If I was to ever marry a cake, it would be that cake.
Hadley made a new friend today. A daughter of one of the scientists at the meeting. Cute little girl, who is only a year older than Hadley.
At around 2:00 we boarded up the bus that took us to the ferry, which would eventually take us to New York. If anyone is keeping count, the bus, and ferry, now added two more forms of transportation to our trip.
The ferry into New York, which was actually a big, fast diesel-powered boat called Seastreak, was absolutely awesome. One of the coolest things I have ever done. There were New Yorkers on the boat who said they had never seen New York in quite that way. Came in right past the statue of liberty, under the Brooklyn bridge, past Lower Manhattan, and then docked at Pier 11 right at Wall Street. Just really breathtaking, and left me and Ash almost speechless. You could really picture how immigrants must have felt years ago, coming in virtually the same way.
Hadley and her new friend had an absolute blast on the ferry. They were jumping up and down, screaming, waiving at passing boats, and just throwing their heads back and laughing with utter joy. Nothing like seeing your kid with a look of pure joy and happiness.
I have been to New York quite a bit in the past for work, so somewhat knew my way around. Most people that know me would assume a place like New York would eat me up, but this old Southern boy has learned a thing or two. We only had a couple of hours to spend, and I wanted to make the trip memorable for Hadley, so my thought was to take her to Chinatown. Plotted out a Subway course, went right to the station, bought our tickets, and got us off at the right stop. Hadley found a toy dog in Chinatown. Kind of a cheap little thing, really, but she loves it, so that's all that matters. Bargained a few dollars off the price like a true New Yorker. Also found her a little New York snow globe to add to her collection of cute trinkets in her room. After that, there really wasn't much more time for sightseeing, so we took our time and caught the train back to Lower Manhattan to catch the ferry back to Jersey.
Ate dinner that night at the place on the boardwalk I mentioned yesterday. Really good restaurant, with excellent service. All of us ate for $100, including tax and tip, which for three people at a nice seafood resaurant on the beach in Jersey, that wasn't too bad. The potatoes that came with my meal had lobster meet and garlic mixed in, which was awesome.
Parting shots from Day 4: the creepy lawyer I met, waiting for the train. I was wearing my Tulane Law shirt, and he asked me "Hey, when did you graduate." I assumed he was also a tulane grad. I said "199, how about you?" He said "Brooklyn Law Schol, 1984." I mean, there must be a million (literally) lawyers in New York. Does he say hi to every single one of them, 'cause we had nothing in common. And he had a creepy smile. Other parting thoughts: Hadley, on the way back from the restaurant, seeing firefles for the first time. Hadley is in bed every night at 8:00, so it is always kind of funny when she realizes there is a whole other world out there after it gets dark.
That's all for Day 4. What an incredible, but exhausting, day.
I will apologize in advance for bad grammar, spelling and typos - I am doing this all stream of consciousness, and am too lazy to go back and edit it.
More than anything, this vacation has revealed that we have a budding young diva on our hands. Hadley is absolutely obsessed with taking a shower and "washing out the clourine (sp?)" from her hair after every excursion to the pool. Which is kind of wasteful when you are at a resort and all there is to do is go to the pool. I think she took 15-20 showers on this vacation. Thank goodness we weren't footing the water bill. Besides that, the pool was salinated, not clourinated, which I tried explaining to Hadley, but what do I know, I've only been to 19 years of school, so how could I possibly know more than my six year old daughter?
We woke up in the morning to a large, inflated gorilla outside our hotel room window. There was some kind of car show thing going on down from the resort. Really wish we could have made it to this, because I am sure the Jersey folks come out of the wordwork for these kinds of events. Sadly, by the time we thought to go down there, Mr. Gorilla was deflated and there were only a couple of cars left. The owners of the cars had long siince passed out from drinking all day. Thankfully, speakers were still blasting crappy 70s/80s Jersey rock into our ears as we walked by.
I almost died on our second day of vacation, by the way. We were watching the pre-game of a World Cup match iinvolving Italy, and they were playing the Italian national anthem. There are lots and lots of Italians in Jersey. Like, former mob-type Italians. At any rate, we are sitting there in this cafe after breakfast watching the Italian national anthem, and I am just about to utter the following words: "Man, you can tell this is the Italian national anthem because it is as silly and gay as the country." Now, usually my internal voice filter is on "off," especially on vacation. I generally just say what is on my mind, and deal with the consequences later. But I stopped myself right before I uttered these words, words that would have enraged 75% of the state of New Jersey. I then looked to my left, and seated at the VERY NEXT TABLE was a middle-aged Italian guy, in very nice clothes, slicked-back hair, with a big smile on his face singing and tapping along to the Italian national anthem. He looked every bit the part of New Jersey mob boss. As I said to Ash, THAT GUY wouldn't have killed me. He would have called a guy, who then would have killed me.
I must say, the pool at the resort was very nice. Hadley and I should know - we spent most of our time there. However, given that we are fair-skinned, and knowing there was supposed to be an indoor pool as well, we inquired as to the location of this indoor pool. We were told by the lifeguard that the indoor pool was closed due to an "accident." I said "accident?" And he said "like, an accident involving one of the guests . . . that needs to be . . . cleaned . . .." At that point, I didn't really need to know any details of the "accident," so we just stuck to the outdoor pool for that day.
Parting shots from Day 2: the TWO insanely awesome Ferraris I saw while walking around the shops next door to the resort (I guess that answers the question of whether these people are rich); New Jersey guys have the market cornerred on two products: tanning salons, and steroids; a little two year old girl in the pool, trying to keep her big brother froom coming in, saying "no, this is MY pool;" Hadley doing her happy dance in the hotel room.
Hadley and I decide today that what we really need is a bike to get around, because we are doiong alot of walking. That led to our Day 3 adventure. . .
That's all for Day 2.
So, last week we all went on vacation. Weel, actually me and Hadley went on vacation, taking advantage of Ash's IBAGS conference. This meeting is held every three years, and is an international meeting generally held in exotic locations throughout the world. This year's meeting was in Jersey. At any rate, I will be releasing, daily, a recounting of our trip to the scenic, exotic Jersey shore.
The day actually began sometime in the middle of the night. Hadley, probably because she was so excited, woke up and wanted to sleep in our bed. We obliged her, and Ash went to go sleep elsewhere. Then, at the very crack of dawn (not even sure it was actually even the crack of dawn yet), Hadley asked if it was time to get up yet. And again an hour or so later. Eventually, everyone went back to sleep, but we were all a bit bleary eyed when morning finally arrived.
Drove up to the Atlanta airport. You know, the Atlanta airport, albeit huge and crowded, gets a bad rap. It really is a very well-run and convenient airport, especially compared to others (more on this later). I parked in the economy parking lot, which was a mistake. Apparently, economy parking not only means cheap, it also means you have to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a space, and then hike across a half-mile of asphalt to get to the terminal. We made it in plenty of time, too. Even with all the people, going through security at Atlanta is a breeze.
Hadley's excitement about flying on the plane quickly turned to terror when the plane started to take off. She was a baby the last time she was on a plane, and wasn't quite ready for the sensation. Ash, who hates to fly, was already assuming her standard "crash position" in the next seat over. Eventually, everyone settled in for an uneventful flight.
We landed at Newark Internatiional, a stinking hell-hole of human depravity (more on this later). While Ash and Hadley went to the restroom, I attempted to master the public transit system. We were takiing a train down to Long Branch, which is where the resort was, but you had to take a train to get to the train. and Long Branch wasn't on the initial screen for the ticket machine, you had to search for it. I'm doing this as apparently a whole plan-load of Asians and Europeans are queing up behind me with impatient looks. Purchased the round-trip tickets. We got to the main station to take the train down to Long Branch, and just missed, by like two minutes, the train, which was a bummer because the next one wasn't coming for over an hour. We sat in this sparse, utilitarian train station with no water, and one nasty bathroom, and waited. Hadley was very good and patient through all of this, and actually was for the entire trip (more on this later), but the automated train station announcement that went off every ten minutes started to drive her crazy.
We boarded our train, and about an hour and fifteen minutes later arrived in Long Branch. Ash and I wanted to get some alcohol to take to the hotel, knowing it would be an arm and a leg there, so I went in search of beverages while we waited for the hotel van to pick us up (our fifth form of transportation for the day). Went to a Rite Aid - nothing. Then went to a convenience store, or whatever they call it in Jersey - nothing. Then walked out and saw a huge sign that said "COLD BEER." Went in the liquor store, made a mad grab for whatever I could get my hands on - some Russian vodka I never heard of, a bottle of red whine, some beer - and hustled back to the train staiton with my loot.
Hotel shuttle picks us up, manned by a very polished and spit-shined hotel employee. He loads and unloads oru bags, and it occurs to me I have no small bills for a tip. I shamelessly raid Hadley's wallet for $5 in ones, and promise her I will pay her back.
Arrive at the hotel to check in. It's Saturday night, and people are starting to gather in the lobby for a night on the town. Never have I seen such a large collection of gaudy, overdone lamet (sp?) dresses and hairstyles. Every dress was bright colrs, shimmery, with a very low cut top and way above the knees. And this is on a bunch of jersey girls, which are a pretty curvy, if not outright chubby, lot.
There was a weding going on outside the hotel, with this tall, gorgeous Jamaican woman marrying a very white, red-headed Engligh sude. The wedding attendees and the wedding party itself was a 50/50 split betweeen Gingers and Jamaicans.
After having a look around, I immediately decide I love the Jersey shore, or at least the resort we were staying at. Much more beautiful than I expected, and without the stiffling hot weather of the June from hell we had been experiencing in Macon.
Couple of parting shots from Day 1 - the Scottish guy who got on the elevator, complaining that there were no stairs going down to the fitfh floor, in a heavy Scottish accent - "it's a west of inergee, but a guess a haf ta dew eet." My sens eof class being totally off kilter - I had no idea if the people staying at and around our resort were considered rich, middle class, or somewhere in between. Two young kids on the elevator, saying to a group of slightly older, pre-tten girls (who, like their mothers, were dressed in gaudy tight, low-cut lamet (sp?) dresses) "You guys look hot!"
That's all for Day 1.
So a few months ago I began receiving the magazine "Stratos." Unsolicited, I might add. I suppose this is to commemorate my rising to the ranks of the Powerful and Attractive. But this magazine is even out of my league. It is for the truly elite of the Powerful and Attractice. Maybe they send it to all members to inspire us to strive to the highest levels of Power and Attraction.
I am too lazy to link them right now, but if you go to where the photo albums are, you will see I have added two new ones. One is some more updated pictures of Hadley, roughly from November of 2006 through June of 2007, although I am not sure about some of them. It has been so long since I updated them that it was hard to get it all sorted out.
The other is from Horner Boys weekend. Basically, my brother and I are going to try to have a weekend every year where we go off and do something fun and manly. No women allowed. We took my nephew Bradely and his buddy Zack last year, and went to Hilton Head for the weekend.