Friday, June 22nd
I started the morning off normally, with an early power walk, cup of tea with Mom, a few games of Go Fish with Keefe, and a look at the Press of Atlantic City. I took a 9:31 bus to Atlantic City and a 12:35 bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Much to my surprise, as I'd been expecting wall-to-wall traffic, the bus arrived in Manhattan about ten minutes before it was schedualed to show.
The Port Authority was a shock to my system! The North Cape May "bus terminal" is a NJ Transit bus shelter that's missing its glass sides and part of the roof, both shattered by local hoodlums. The Atlantic City Bus Terminal is one story (that's open to the public), two ticket booths, a tiny gift shop, a diner, a few ancient arcade games shoved into a closet-sized space, and the bathrooms.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is HUGE! It's three stories, and the buses go into an above-ground parking lot. (I explored the Port Authority more thoroughly on Monday and discovered lots of restauraunts, newsstands, a Halmark store, and various little booths and carts selling all kinds of merchandise.) I wandered around a bit after leaving the bus station, looking for a subway terminal. Though the traffic in Manhattan was backed up for miles, the sidewalks weren't bad, and as I turned a corner, I found a line waiting to see "The Phantom of the Opera"...and a subway station a block away.
I guess because it was by then quarter to three, the subway was practically deserted (especially going to Queens). I had no problem finding a seat. Riding the subway was an adventure for me. I've never been on any kind of mass rail transit before. It was kind of like a roller coaster ride at the Wildwood Boardwalk, without the dips and loops. I re-read the directions that Dana gave me to the hotel then...and realized that she hadn't told me where in Queens to get off. She said to change trains at Roosevelt Avenue, so I did.
I got off at 71st Street and Forrest Hills. Dana said to look for a big building, but ALL the buildings around me were big, especially to a small-town girl who never sees anything taller than the Tropicana Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. I spent three hours walking up and down Queens Boulevard, wondering where the heck this hotel was. I rode the subway a few more times as well. To make a very long story short, I panicked and finally asked several shop-owners if they knew where the hotel was. A baker told me to take the bus up Queens Blvd, as it was too far to walk! I took his advice, climbed wearily onto the bus, and finally got off at the Pan American Hotel.
It was after six by then, but the lobby was deserted. I found out at the desk that only Britt Graves had arrived, which made me feel a lot better. Maybe everyone else had trouble getting here, too. I checked in and hauled my bag upstairs, regretting my decision to shove my stuff into one bag, instead of bringing two. Rita Widmer, one of two people I shared a room with, called me while I was settling into the room. The poor thing was delayed three hours in Chicago and had only now arrived in New York.
Dana, Linda, James, and two people I didn't recognize were in the lobby when I got downstairs. I knew James and Linda from reading Linda's accounts of last year's convention, and Dana's visited me in North Cape May before. The others were Linda's mother, Mary, and Kathleen. We were joined shortly by Britt, Suzanne, Cyndy, and Adina Berenstein, who arrived by taxi, and swapped travel horror stories while we waited for Rita.
Poor Rita finally arrived at 8. After I gave her a much-needed hug and she put her things upstairs, we went out to dinner at a nice little Chinese place about four blocks from the Pan American. I had the broccoli chicken, which was excellent. (I also got to sample some of the tasty fried rice cakes that came with Adina's roasted chicken.)
We went back to the hotel, where we watched several lovely WENN-related music videos that Cyndy made. I particuarly liked the one spotlighting Hilary's fashions. We looked over Britt's collection of Playbills, a book on World War II that Rita brought with her, and several theater and retro magazines featuring articles about Remember WENN or Rupert or the cast. We turned in a little after midnight, promising to meet in the lounge at 10. After admiring the lovely view of Queens from our room, Di, Rita, and I turned in.
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