Friday, July 2, 2010

Day of the Bus

Intersections in Philadelphia all have this sign:
"Don't Block the Box" (We all had a great laugh. Go ahead, you can too.)

Yesterday was a travel day. Nay, not just a travel day, but a travel day. It was one of the best days ever! Well, let me qualify that: this entire trip has been filled with one of the best days ever, just piled one on top of the next!

So I spent the night before at the Doubletree, downtown Philadelphia. It was heaven compared to Temple University. Sheer Heaven. Didn't do much other than sleep and eat, but it was wonderful. Left early in the morning, Greyhound to Pittsburgh. I thought it was going to be awful and was very sorry I didn't go Amtrak. But...

We were more than halfway to Pittsburgh when we got a flat tire! "What?" you say, "that's a good day?" Well, yes, I'd have to say it was. Everything happens for a reason, you know. Before the driver discovered we had a flat, I was going to get a few snacks (we stopped in Altoona), but I had no cash, and their credit card machine was broken. So I ran around trying to find an ATM machine. No luck. Another passenger was in the same boat as me. (Her name, it turns out, is Jamera ["call me Jaime"]). So I rummage around, find a 20, ask Jamera if she wants something to eat; and let the friendship begin!

We hurry, hurry, hurry... then we find out the tire is flat, and we'll have a while to wait anyway, so we start talking, walking, and discovering. In Altoona, PA! ("Mayberry" according to Jamera.)

Jamera is 23 years old and attending Penn State. She's been a student for five years; decided to pick up a minor, so it's taken her a little longer. She is a criminal justice major; when she graduates she will go to law school. She's smart, funny, outgoing, motivated, easy to be with, easy on the eyes, quick with wit, and all around a fun person.
We started walking around to find an ATM (we still needed to have some cash), and decided to go to a pharmacy instead, buy some snacks, get cash back and forego the most probable ATM fee. After the pharmacy, we stumbled upon an art gallery! On display were some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen. Some were black and white, some black and white with superimposed color, and some color. The black and white were, of course, my favorite. It was a photographic story of Cuba. I wish I'd taken pictures to share, but I didn't have my camera - why would I? In Altoona/"Mayberry," PA??? Anyway, one of my favorites (and Jamera's) was a b/w straight on picture of a huge cigar in the mouth of a man who was out of focus. It was so close up of the cigar, and the cigar was so big, that the tobacco looked almost like little worms. There were pictures of people (my personal favorite, taking pictures of people), most of them not posed. There were pictures of old, really old, cars. They were all digital (I think), and the cars were color with the rest of the picture black and white. Those were my second favorite. Oh, and guess what? (All you Dexter fans) The gallery also featured an artist whose passion seemed to be blood spatter! In some of the pictures, you could see a body or a body part. I believe most of the work was acrylic on canvas. It was enticing, beautiful. The entire exhibit. I wish I'd written down more information. Sorry.
So the bus is ready to go, we get on. I get hit on! Great way to boost the ego, getting hit on. Too bad they were all really old guys! (Older than me, anyway) Three of them!
It is more uncomfortable, riding on a bus. But we made it. Jamera shared some information with me about Pittsburgh: places to visit, things to see, etc. When we get to Pittsburgh (hereafter known as Pitt), I get into a cab to the hotel (not as nice as the Doubletree), and the cab driver mentions the same deli as Michael did -- Primanti Brothers! It has several locations here in Pitt. I can't wait for Rachel to get here so we can go. (I'd get in trouble if I went without her.)
At almost 9 o'clock, after traveling all day, and having such an exciting time (!) in Altoona, I was really tired, so I just went to the restaurant in the hotel. And met two Brits! James and Simon -- great British names, don't you think? We talked and talked, talked some more, drank a little bit and had a blast! There is a convention at the hotel currently, the Grotto. If you're not familiar with them, they are very similar to the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, etc. They work with Shriner's! Wonderful people.
So, James tells me he's made friends with some of the Grottos, and they invited him to their parties which are down the hall -- "free booze" says James. And of course, I follow. ... It was a great night.
I promise to catch up with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but I had to get this in before I forget it all.

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