A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Displaying 1 record.
Mooncat's Gathering Journal
prequel... started packing a week before I would leave, so I wouldn't forget anything. Decided to try the clothes in plastic bags thing to maximize the room in my one very large piece of luggage. My very, very, VERY large piece of luggage. I'd forgotten from last Gathering that it would be better to have two smaller pieces than one large one, especially as the airline I was using this trip, American, had a weight limit of 50 pounds per bag, but allowed two bags. *vows to find two smaller bags for future traveling* Plastic bags work great, and I stuffed that luggage so full I had to let out it's extra zipper extensions that allowed more room. I even had room for the my Gift Bricks, for the fellow fans and friends I knew I'd meet at the Gathering. *^_^* I call them them Bricks, because they were probably part of the reason my bag felt like I'd filled it with bricks... sigh.
I packed for every occasion - casual clothes, dress clothes, night clothes, fancy shoes and belts jewlery (which sadly I never got to wear) lots and lots of under things (and I still wasn't able to find my socks half the time I was in NY), artwork for Othercon and art supplies (I actually thought I'd have a spare moment to draw a little... pure madness), books, presents, toiletries including several new toothbrushes "just in case", snacks, camera, extra hard drive for the lap top (which I was taking in my carryon) and my DVDs of Gargoyles that I'd recorded from Toon Disney. I even took Fluffy, my three headed cerebus dog to be room guardian. And Talcum Powder. A great lot of Talcum Powder. *evil grin*
Wednesday 25, day one of my journey...
I left on Wednesday because Princess and I had plans to see New York before and after the Gathering, and were planning on a week of fun all told. A good friend of mine gave me a lift to the airport. He'd given me a little bit of a fright because he'd arrived a half hour later than he'd said, because he'd over slept. But since it was still hours before my flight time and he lived less than five minutes from me driving I knew I could go drag him out of bed if necessary. I spent the extra half hour adding "just in case" items to my luggage and eating a food bar and downing a bottled water. Stuffed extra bottle of water in my carryon. It took us a while to figure out how to get the luggage in his car, as it was Too Big for the empty trunk, *@_@*, and we literally wrestled it into the back seat, with one pushing and the other pulling from the other side of the car seat.
The luggage, when weighed at the airport, came to 110 pounds. Luckily I'd packed an empty duffle bag at the last moment, and right there was able to stuff it with the loose clothes I'd stuffed in at last moment and got the luggage down to 94, which meant I *still* had to pay an extra $50 for surpassing the weight limit, but at least I could take all my stuff because only 100 pounds are allowed maximum. I squeaked by by the skin on my teeth and a few extra bills. yeek!!! Other interesting things is that I got to use the automated check in machine for the first time at the ticket counter. wheee!!! Of course, since I'd already waited a half hour in the "ticketed" line before I was informed people with e-tickets needed to use the machines, which had been EMPTY the entire time I'd been waiting in the other line, but then two huge familis showed up right after I was informed and I had to wait another 20 to 30 minutes for them to go through the machines first. *~_~* sighs...
After checking in my luggage, I took my two carry ons with me through security, and got patted all over. I was wearing jeans and my white LA Gathering T-shirt, which was suspicious because it was a bit loose and baggy on me. But otherwise I went through quickly and went to wait for my flight. I began reading Song of the Beast by Carol Berg
A fantastic, if dark edged read. Highly recommend it.
My flight, from Kansas to Dallas Fort Worth TX and from there to La Guardia in NY was very smooth and worry free. Arriving in DFW, my connecting flight was in the same gate area as the one we arrived in, so there was no muss and no fuss and I arrived at just a bit after 3pm NY time. I went to get my luggage which was made easier by my having spray painted the great beast with florescent yellow streaks so I'd recognize it. yay!!! Then I hoofed it over to the United baggage claim to wait for Princess whose flight from O'Hare was scheduled to arrive ony 50 minutes later than mine. Our plan was to share a cab to the hotel and cut our expenses. I was a little worried because we'd not actually set a specific meet point, not knowing the layout at LaGuardia, but I gambled that she'd come out that way and settled in.
I waited with bouncing eagerness, having noticed from the flights monitor (I love those) her arriving flight would actually be 20 minutes earlier than expected. Since I had No Idea what she looked like, other than about my height, blondish and would be wearing jeans, I checked each person who passed out of the United gate area with great curiosity and anticipation... and found out afterwards that because the flight had taken off earlier, Princess had been bumped to a flight that would arrive an hour later than her original one. Yeeks! Luckily I'd given her my cell phone number, and checked to hear the message she'd left me. She said she'd do a sweep of the baggage area to find me if I wanted to wait for her. Since I'd already waited one hour, waiting one more didn't seem a big deal. Plus... I forgot the name of the hotel. I remembered it was P something... And I'd forgotten to print out the hotel page. Actually the info was in the numerous print outs I had, but I didn't know that at the time. I figured Princess would know, so I didn't let it fash me any. I had a good book, and the only worrisome thing was the this guy in a suit who kept wanting to know if I needed a ride. I wasn't going to go off with a strange guy by myself, so I settled in to hook up with Princess.
Meanwhile, several drivers had their little signs out that had names of people they were waiting for. I took the extra time to make my own little sign, using the back of the print out with Princess's last e-mail to me, I used a pen to scrawl PRINCESS across the back and propped it onto my Big Luggage's handle. When she arrived, she made a beeline for me and it was like we'd been hanging out together for ages. She actually looked and spoke just like a lot of my friends at home, which is kinda scary, but in a good way.
Soon as she arrived, a grungy looking guy (jeans, t-shirt, etc) asked if we needed a cab. Thinking he was a cabbie, and since there were two of us to one of him, I said yes rather easily. As long as I have one person at my back, I can be pretty fearless. We did need a cab. He then informed us he had a Limo, and it would be more expensive but he was available right then and there, and though we both knew the warnings, it was just too convenient. A taxi would have cost mid 20s to 30 bucks, he gave us a flat rate of 55 dollars not including tip. That didn't sound half bad since Princess and I were doing halfsies. Now when he said LIMO I was actually thinking of a town car of some sort. I've seen many car services refer to themselves as limo services, but actually were driving regular cars. But no, he (I forget his name) meant an honest to goodness Glossy Black Stretch Limousine. I was so surprised. I think I made the *squee* noise.
He wrestled The Luggage into the back, along with our carryons and all in all a LOT of luggage. Princess and I got into the Limo, and sat opposite each other, grinning like cats in the cream. If only we had someone to take pictures! But my camera was in the luggage and we settled in to talk and take in the sites as the driver took us to the Hotel. I sat in the backward facing seats, and she in the normal facing seats, and we talked of things I don't really remember much of. *welcomes any input from Princess if she remembers* but it was exceedingly comfortable, and not at all like it was the first time we'd ever spent real life time with each other. The week in New York was off to a great start *^_^*
I was hungry. I think we talked about food part of the way to the hotel. All I'd had since leaving home was the beverages on the plane, and the bread and meat sandwich (no garnishes) you get on the longer, meal time flights, and that was some hours ago. We planned to go food hunting once we were all checked in and everything. Our drive took a long time, and we saw vehicles that were covered in graphetti as we went through the streets of New York. Apparently if a vehicle stays too long in the wrong place, it's fair game. This is something I'd never seen before, and it was rather startling.
We arrived in style, and the driver got our luggage onto the sidewalk outside the hotel easily, we paid him and looked over the outside of the hotel, hoping it was the right one. It didn't look very impressive, and I guess we came in at the side that confused so many people. I didn't dare go through the revolving doors with The Luggage. It's just that huge. But the side door was available and myself and Princess made it into the hotel proper. As we headed to the desk line, a gentlemen asked if we were checking in, and then directed us to a side alcove where he checked us in and gave us our room cards.
We were set!
To the elevators we went, and to our room... 1053. The hotel is very big. The rooms are VERY SMALL. I've been in bathrooms bigger than the room we had. It was just as wide as our beds were long, with about 3 feet of clearance to allow them to jam a TV armoire at the foot of one of the two beds. Apparently if more than one person wanted to watch tv, they'd have to all pile on the one bed to be able to see it. There was NO remote. Not a huge loss, because we didn't watch much TV the entire time we were in NY, except for the CNN that played in the Elevator monitors. It was going up and down the elevators we heard about the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the "anti sodomy" laws that certain states, including Kansas, use to get at anyone not using heterosexual missionary style sex when they do "it". The elevator also let us know that Katherine Hepburn, aka Kate the Great had died during the convention weekend. Ironically, Kate Mulgrew, voice actress for Anastacia Renard/Titania, is the star of "Tea at Five", a play about Hepburn's life's playing... Katherine Hepburn.
I knew this in advance, because Princess and I planned on taking in a Broadway show while in NY, so I had researched what was playing during the time we'd be there. We opted for Phantom of the Opera, which was wonderful, but I wondered if anyone had tried to get ahold of Kate Mulgrew for the Gathering? While in NY we also learned that Brent Spiner, aka PUCK was also in town to tread the boards in "Life (x) 3". Princess spotted his face staring at us from a huge Bill Board when we checked out Broadway street, which I give her high points for because he's older now and is really very different in appearance from his most recognizable role, Data of Star Trek the Next Generation.
Anyhoo... back to the hotel room. The teeny, tiny hotel room. The bathroom was scary. I'd never been to a hotel that charged prime rates (as this one did) where there was so much obvious wear and tear on the facilities. The ceiling above the ancient bath/shower was peeling and distressed, the tub had dark rust (I hope) stains, and the toilet had "ancient public toilet facility" simply written all over it. There flusher was something I'd only seen in very old public park toilets... when I was a very small child. It also took several flushes after use to give you a "clean" bowl. I looked at the bathroom and made "mew" noises in pure distress for a few moments. But aside from the primitive facilities, the cramped space, and the awkward placement of the very few pieces of furniture that had been shoe horned into the room, it would do to meet our most basic needs. We wouldn't be spending all that much time in the room anyway, except to sleep. With that comforting thought in mind, we dumped our luggage and took off in search of supper.
Princess and I decided to ask someone in the lobby if they knew a good place nearby to eat. I went to this desk in the lobby which was for tour and show info, but the lady was so rude she didn't even bother to hear my question, just said she was "closed" -- she was the only rude NY person I ran into the entire trip. However Princess had better luck with another hotel person, and we wound up walking down the street to a GREAT restaurant called Mustang Harry's (not to be confused with Mustang Sally's which is not so great) -- and had a really nice meal.
Princess had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, and I had an interesting house special, kind of a Beef Fajita but made with Teriyaki Beef and bean sprouts... a curious cross of Mexican and Asian food styles that was very delicious, managing to be totally American and Exotic at the same time. In the course of our stay in NY, we ate at Harry's quite a few times, having different things each go around, and I was quite happy each and every time. Nice waitress. Great buffalo wings. And the drinks were very good. Princess had a Melon Margarita, blended, and I got a little taste. I don't much care for Melon, but enjoyed the texture of the drink which was a finely ground slurry of the ice and drink. Very nice.
Found out that soda pop is paid for by the glass. This is something that held true for every restaurant we went to, from Midtown to Uptown, Greenwich Village or Little Italy, that there is no such thing as a free refill. Each glass of diet coke or what have you is $2.50 a go. Lemonade too. Don't know about tea or coffee. Otherwise food prices were very reasonable, and you could eat a nice sit down dinner restaurant meal with drinks for 15 to 20 dollars a person. Fast food prices were only slightly higher than those in Kansas, and every kind of fast food place was available within walking distance of the hotel. Blimpies, Sbarros, Burger King. Things get more pricey if you add in appetizers and desserts, but the portions of the entree were so generous, I don't know how people manage desserts afterwards, unless the only eat a fraction of their entree.
During the stay in New York, since we had no refrigerator or anything to keep our left overs in, I wound up wasting a shameful amount of food. Good food. I felt very badly about this, but without a way to keep it from spoiling, there really was no choice.
Having eaten, Princess and myself took a walk around the hotel. There was a slight humidity in the air, but it really wasn't hot and the evening was really very enjoyable. We walked in squares around the hotel, and noted the fast food places and tried to see what there was to see in the later evening. We found out that cross walk signals are generally ignored and people in NY are almost suicidal in how they cross whatever intersection they please at just about any time they think they can get away with it. We watched carefully and simply went with the flow. There really is a kind of reasoning behind how and when people in NY cross the streets, and it has to do with the streets mainly being one way, and keeping an eye on the traffic lights and how cars are parked and where construction has part of the street barricaded and so on... I was getting the hang of it to the point I was flinging myself into traffic and probably worrying my walking companions with some regularity. There is a heady, reckless joy to walking in NY. However someone told us that people do get hit quite often.
At one point, I don't remember when exactly, I was nailed by a bicyclist going the wrong way on a one way street when I was looking for traffic going the lawful way. I almost got hit again by a bicyclist another time too. Otherwise there wasn't any problems. When crossing the street, even with the white "walk" light, cabs and cars will constantly nose through the streaming mass of crossing humans as the vehicles make right turns. It must not be illegal in NY to do this, as the cars did this in front of police constantly.
Anyone who stops for a light if there is the slightest chance of making it to the other side in one piece is a tourist.
Trash piles up on the street curb in really disturbing amounts. Bags and bags of trash in heaps and pyramids, so much so I wondered if there was any trash service on NY. Fruit stands and ice cream trucks and hot dog vendors stake out every corner. We passed numerous tiny cubby hole 'grocery' stores, and magazine shops which seem to take the place of Quick Trips and 7 Elevens for small 24 hour grocery needs. These shops were scattered about and you could walk in any direction and stumble over one with in a few minutes. Very convenient, as we would later find out NY may be the city that never sleeps, but they don't eat after a certain hour. As many convention goers found out, there are no "real" food places that are open past 11, if even that late. Nothing equivalent to a Denny's or even a greasy spoon trucker joint where you can grab a hamburger or stack of pancakes in the witching hours. There are cold, over priced sandwiches in the hotel coffee shop, but that's about it. So be warned and wary, if you are looking for late night munchies of the cooked / hot variety, you are pretty much screwed unless you have kitchen facilities of some sort at your disposal.
In the course of our wandering we checked out a Drug Store, which was surprising large inside, more a small five and dime general store than a drug store, with two levels connected by an escalator. And an office supply shop. I was in desperate need of an exacto knife to prep my artwork for display in the Art Room and the OtherCon room, and hoped to be able to pick one up at one of the NY shops. While I'd bought with me several sheets of heavy weight metallic gold and silver poster board to mount my art on, I needed to make slits to put the corners of my art through to hold the pictures in place. I had thought to play it safe by not bringing anything blade like with me in my luggage, assuming that such a basic tool would be available in one of the NY office supply shops or other convenience stores. Uh uh. While the Drug Store had an extensive school supply section, an exacto knife was not part of it. Further searching through various office supply shops like STAPLES proved that in NY, you can't buy exacto knives in any of them, I was told that MAYBE I could find one in an art supply store. Since we couldn't find one of those while we were combing NY, that remains unknown.
I asked in some of the stores we went to and found out that many *used* to carry exacto knives, but no longer do so. I was also informed that they no longer carried staple guns. One person I asked had a very hostile tone, as if I'd asked for a disgustingly taboo item. This is probably a strange NY thing. Apparently knives are available for sale (I'm pretty sure I saw some pen/swiss army knives in Macy's, and I think I remember seeing some swords in a few gift shops (those katana and knife sets) but if you want certain basic art supplies, you are pretty much screwed. *grrrrss* I wound up simply clipping the metal clamps for holding the pictures for the art show directly onto my bare, unmatted and unframed pictures, because I couldn't work with the precision and force necessary with the razor blade BiZZ generously lent me on Friday (much thanks to BiZZ for trying to help me out though). When I went home after NY, I went to the local office shop and bought a brand new exacto knife, even though I had several in my art desk, simply because I could. I also loaded up on metallic ink markers (gold and silver) because that was another item that people couldn't find in NY, and apparently they had needed them at one point.
Aside from the exacto knife failure, our walk was very pleasant and we returned to the hotel in very good spirits. We further unpacked our bags, and I gave Princess her Gift Brick. It included a box of Godiva chocolates, which I made puppy eyes at during the rest of the week, in hopes that Princess would like to share *^_^* I also gave her some books I thought she'd find useful and entertaining, and a special something that I knew any Gargoyles fan would enjoy (its a secret). *^_^* Plus I'd run off a DVD set of the Birds of Prey tv series for her, as she indicated an interest of writing fic in that fandom. I tried to plug my lap top into the room tv, which I can do at home, so it would show what plays on the laptop... but for some reason it wouldn't work. We wound up watching the Pilot for Birds of Prey on just the laptop as we got our gear stowed away. The very cramped space was worrisome, as Allaine would be joining us on Friday and we didn't know exactly where to put him. Fortunately Allaine is a slender guy, and we made sleeping space for him on the far side of my bed, in the little space between the bed and the wall. *^_^* If he'd been a big bear of a man, it would have been unfortunate.
Princess soon learned that I am prone to fill up any empty space under my dominion with my stuff. She didn't think I'd be able to sleep since my bed was completely covered with things I'd unpacked. But since Allaine wasn't going to be there for the first two nights, I simply shoved everything that I'd unpacked onto my bed onto the floor. Afterwards I had to get... creative.
As the hour grew late, we talked and talked and talked some more... but since we wanted to get up early to do as much in the next day (Thursday) as possible, we finally tucked ourselves into bed and slept the sleep of happy travelers.
End Day One.
I definitely ran into the where-to-eat-late problem while I was there. I don't know if it was the neighborhood. Carol Wagner assures me that we could have found pancakes if we only knew where to look.