Convention Day 3.
Once again, I woke up a little before my alarm (which NEVER happens, unless I’m nervous, and certainly never so many days in a row). I finished packing up my things. My small suitcase was filled with almost nothing but books (I ended up bringing home 29 books (not counting the 2 I’d brought along for personal reading on the train ride up & back).
I went upstairs around 9:30 to help them pack up the book buffet only to find they were on their last load. This is where the game of musical chairs came in. You see, the hostel that we were staying at was closing at noon that day. When I had made the reservation, I had specifically asked if there were somewhere I could leave my luggage during the day after checkout and they said they had a secure place to keep it. So I made my train reservation for 9pm that night accordingly. But because they were closing, I didn’t have that option. Thankfully, they said they would let us keep our luggage at their other hostel location, just a few T stops away. They even paid for the taxi ride over there. So MissMarkey and I gathered up our luggage (3 bags each) and Dena very kindly went with us to make sure we could find our way there and back all right. We got our luggage stored, picked up our luggage claim tags, and took the T back to the other hostel in time to meet up with people about to head to brunch.
Brunch was fantastic. That salad in Salem had been amazing, but the brunch was easily the best meal of the trip. The French toast was to die for and the lemonade was delicious. I sat beside to Elle311 (whose friend, David, joined us) and across from a few local BookCrossers I’d met on Friday but hadn’t seen since, so that was perfect.
We all got small goody bags with literary bookmarks, a literary button (I swapped my Banned Books button for MissMarkey’s Walt Whitman magnet because she could appreciate that one more than Whitman, as a Brit), and something from the supply store (I got a pack of postcards, which wasn’t so useful compared to bookmarks or labels, as I have most of them anyway, but I’ll find uses for them). Brunch was also the time for prizes! Woot! I didn’t get any of the 3 door prizes, but I did win some awesome stuff. I got a prize for having the most coveted book at the Yankee Swap on Friday! So I got the literary version of Monopoly; so cool! We’ll definitely have that available to be played at the DC Convention and maybe at a BCinDC meetup in the future. I also got a prize for one of my funny Reverse Scavenger Hunt releases (the fowl=foul ball one). So I got a pack of literary playing cards, a mug, a mouse pad, and the NaNoWriMo kit (which I actually already own but have never allowed myself to use because I didn’t want to ruin its contents. Now I can use it guilt-free and share it with my Writers’ Roundtable group). The convention organizers were especially kind and volunteered to mail the larger items to me rather than having me shlep them all around town and try to get them home (my bags were already at maximum capacity and stored at the other hostel (I wasn’t looking forward to dragging a board game all around Boston all day).
After brunch, we all said our goodbyes. It was so sad to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s nice to know there’s a BookCrossing community online and I can always find them there!
My plan for the day was to walk the Freedom Trail on my own. The whole thing. All the way to Bunker Hill (I’ve snarfed Bunker Hill and some things around it, but missed a lot as well). I’d seen parts of the trail but not the whole thing and I thought it would be fun to get the whole thing this time. But Ell311 & David were kind enough to invite me along in their afternoon adventures, and the lure of hanging out with friends (and people who actually KNEW something about the city) easily outweighed spending the whole day on my own, juggling my three maps and trying not to get lost.
We headed to the Boston Common and met up with David’s partner, David (easy to remember, even for someone who’s horrible with names, like me!). Then we set off on a walk that was part Freedom Trail and part just really cool things in Boston. I saw a lot more than I would have seen on my own, including the market and some of Little Italy; I got gelato (mixed berry and mint chocolate-weird combination but very yummy). And I got photos of a bunch of snarfs. Though I didn’t pull Eeyore out for all of them, he certainly made an appearance at the donkey statue outside Old City Hall. The Davids were both excellent guides, showing us where Boston Cream Pies originated, giving us some personal insights, etc. and they were great guys as well (who genuinely didn’t seem to mind my historical marker hunting geekiness). They made sure I was well oriented at the end of the afternoon when it was time for them to head home to start dinner.
It was sad to see Elle & the Davids go, but also nice to be on my own after a busy week. It was just after 4 when I got to the Public Gardens. I had been told that was a good time to get a Swan Boat ride, and that turned out to be great advice. I only stood in line for 2 or 3 minutes. And the cost was so much cheaper than anticipated: $2.75! It looked like rain, so I stuffed as many paper things as possible along with my camera in the only ziplock bag I’d brought along. And I did feel a few drops of rain when I was on the boat, but it never really even grew into a sprinkle. Thank goodness.
The boat ride was wonderful. It was like stepping back in time. And it was a wonderfully peaceful and relaxing time as we were paddled around the pond, around the islands, and under the bridge. There were lots of ducks, a pair of swans, and so many willow trees (my favorite kind of tree). I could have stayed on that boat all day.
I didn’t make it far after the boat ride, either. I thought it would rejuvenate me, but my hip and feet were hurting and I only made it a quarter of the way around the pond before I had to sit back down again and rest. There are certainly worse places to rest a while than by the pond in the Boston Public Gardens! I watched the boats sail around for some time. Then I set out to the Commons again to pick up the Freedom Trail and any snarfs I could find that hadn’t been photographed yet. I saw some people in copper posing as human statues (with a nautical theme). They were wonderful at it, but not snarfable (later when I went by, I saw them taking their makeup off; it was rather surreal).
I walked along the red or brick line on the sidewalk that marked the trail (I wish every city did this!) and only made it as far as the Old City Hall again before spotting a Starbucks. I was really hungry and, more importantly, in need of a bathroom and somewhere to sit again. I had a nice, relaxing, early dinner at Starbucks, looking out at the statues and trees and old buildings that I could see through the windows. I lingered as long as I wanted, to give my body more time to rest.
Then I was off again, properly rejuvenated and excited. I followed the trail and picked up snarfs that I hadn’t been able to get earlier when I was trying to stick close to my friends or ones that I hadn’t even noticed. There was a snarf for the first post office in the American Colonies on the wall just inside the entrance to a parking garage, for example! And I got a photo of the recreation of Cheers, which I had meant to do earlier but thought it looked too fangirly. I re-snarfed a bunch of things just so I would have choices when it came to the photos. But I quit the trail when I got back to where we’d crossed the street to go to Little Italy. I’d seen enough and I wanted to go back to the commons to snarf the state house building. So I walked all the way back, passing some things for the fourth time that day. Then I ended up walking all the way around the state house. I’d gotten photos of some of the statues on the grounds last year, and this year there were some I couldn’t get to well because the grounds had closed 15 minutes before I got there (drat! I should have gone there first, not last!), but I did find a few bonus snarfs hiding out on the back and sides of the area. The long walk all the way around it had been worth it.
I slowly made my way back to the Park St. T stop, thinking I might as well go back to the hostel while it was still light out and I could easily identify the streets and landmarks (yay for Dena’s girl directions! “Look for the clock. Then look for the Rice Bowl sign.”). I was utterly exhausted when I got to the hostel, and someone was in front of me at the desk, so I took a seat. Someone else arrived and got in line and technically I should have stood up and gone before him, but I was so tired I didn’t care. Plus I had more than 2 hours until my train was to leave. I was in no rush. Just as I was explaining this to the guy who realized he’d “cut in front of me” in the line that I hadn’t even joined, MissMarkey magically appeared. She was using the internet and decoding a secret message for a geocache. So I helped her do that and then I checked out the OBCZ at this hostel. I actually found two books to take home (wouldn’t you know it?).
I bought some postcards there for a magnificent price (wish I’d not bought so many earlier at more expensive prices) and finally the front desk clerk returned so I could go get my luggage. I changed into a clean shirt (much needed after all the walking in the heat) as MissMarkey used my laptop to write a Thank You thread to the UnCon organizers (yay for free WiFi!). This hostel was great. I especially loved the big mural on the wall and the girl holding the Dar Williams CD—my favorite singer! What a great sign! I got a drink at the vending machine and just hung out for a while. My train was supposed to leave at 9:45 so I figured leaving a little before 9 would get me there in plenty of time. But then I realized it WAS almost 9 and started to panic.
I had the front desk people call me a taxi and said one more goodbye to MissMarkey, who was staying on a few days to see more of Boston and to visit Cape Cod (oooooh I love Cape Cod). The cab driver was very into making conversation (I prefer friendly but quiet to talkative and engaging) and I found a snarf on my way into the station. It took me a few minutes to figure out where Ticketing was, but then I spotted the machines. I went over and printed my ticket and then looked at it, feeling a little perplexed. 9:25pm. Was that the current time? No. It was 9:17. Why did my ticket say 9:25? I turned around with my luggage and an employee who happened to be passing by pointed me to the gate. “What?” I was totally confused. My train didn’t leave until 9:45… right?
Wrong. Apparently I had remembered wrong. I had just enough time to lug my big duffle bag, small suitcase, heavy laptop bag, and overstuffed backpack onto the train and find one of the last window seats before the train left the station. Whew! I had been off by half an hour. It was only luck that kept me from missing it altogether.
I ate my cookie from the lunch the day before and brushed my teeth in the bathroom. Then I snuggled up with my pillow and fell asleep in the middle of writing fanfiction.
During the night, a few different people ended up in the seat next to me. Most passengers traveling alone were taking up both the seat they’d paid for and the one next to them. I tried that for a few minutes but couldn’t get comfortable. And around 3am or 4am when we hit the big cities like New York and Philly the Amtrak people made multiple announcements that every seat was needed and if you were lying down you had to sit up. So it was just as well I kept to myself.
I was pretty out of it, waking up frequently, restlessly, but not really aware of what was going on. I remember a little boy of maybe 7 or 8 sitting next to me (his brother was in the seat in front of him and his mother in the seat across the aisle). And I know the woman who ended up in the seat at the end of my journey was a larger black woman (I felt bad having to wake her but I needed her to move so I could get past her and off the train!). I stuffed my pillow and jacket in my dufflebag and got all my stuff arranged and together before the train stopped at DC. It was a big stop so there was no rush to disembark, but I was ready to go home. It was 6:45 in the morning, after all!
I used the restroom before heading out where a really nice fellow passenger and I watched over each other’s luggage as we used the facilities. She had a 3 hour layover so I showed her where the restaurants and shops were at Union Station. She felt a whole lot better about her layover once she realized there were lots of places to poke around at the station.
I took the Metro home but I couldn’t find my SmartTrip card. So I put $5 on a paper card and took the shortest way home, even though it required one extra train switch. As it turned out, I didn’t factor in the rate hike and I should have put $5.25 on the card. The nice Metro employee figured out my problem and let me go through, though I had an extra quarter in my pocket at the ready.
Certainly not the most relaxing journey home, and requiring me to take a really long nap for much of the morning when I got home (there was a problem with the furnace and the air conditioning was turned off at home, but I was only dimly aware of the repairman coming in, even though he was, like, 6 feet away from where I slept), but not as bad as it could have been. I was relieved to get home and exhausted after so many back-to-back conventions, but I really did have a blast on my trip.