transportation

Not-so-happy returns

(Sorry, I really don’t feel like doing a write up now. Hopefully, these notes will do)

 

10:15am – leave house

12:07pm – arrive in Harrisburg

12:35pm – locate the Sheet z across from the airport. Sandwiches is awful, fountain drink is okay… okay, the 2nd one was (as I dumped the first one out).

12:48pm – arrive at MDT, agent for American Airlines cannot find my tickets tells me it is MY responsibility to call Travel agent or booking site to find it.

12:59 pm – shouting my name and phone number into the phone just to get: “Sir, I can not hear you. I am hanging up.” *click*

1:07pm – try to call Expedia. Get nowhere. Go inside. “Try the other airlines.”

1:28pm – none of the other airlines can find my flight on AA either.

1:35pm – I have no choice. I MUST get a new ticket for an extra $100 plus taxes and fees. It is too late because the flight I was trying to get onto is already making its “final boarding call.”

1:48pm – have tickets in hand, go through security to have power happy TSA agent rip my bag open and lecture me about the toiletries in my clear mesh bag. She then informs me that if I continue “arguing with a federal agent” (apparently we are seeing two different things here) the officers surrounding me would “be more than happy to discuss it with you in our holding cell.”

1:54pm – Get to the other side of the “hey, that’s my fat, ugly, hairy stomach hanging out when I lift my arms, this isn’t awkward or embarrassing at all” machine and one of the intimidation agents from a few moments ago stops me and asks if there is “any medical condition that would impede me doing a full pat down of your persons?”

“Actually, yes, it’s called Autism Spectrum disorder and it means I have severe, um, dislike of strang…,” and of course he does it anyway. Thanks for making me to talk to myself.  It almost distracted me from the patdown. No, it didn’t.
“You can go now. Have a nice day.”

2:15pm – board flight as usual. It is probably the smallest plane I have ever been on. I can literally barely fit down the aisle, but my bag fit in the overhead… once I was able to figure out how to get it up there without hitting the passengers in the surrounding seats.

2:22pm – take off.

3pm – arrive at PHL for my 2hr, 15 minutes layover.

4:15pm – get early dinner at airport. Chicken was all right, but fries were cold.

4:23pm – return to terminal. Flight boards in an hour and twenty minutes.

4:47pm – Passengers from plane I’m going out on are disembarking.

5:11pm – “Once again, this is a completely full flight. ALL passengers in groups 7 or higher MUST check their carry on baggage.”

5:13 PM – cool. I’m in… group 8. Yah.

5:27 pm – boarding begins. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere for the next 10-15 minutes.

5:47pm – finally board – it is another 10 minutes before we finished boarding and pushed back from the terminal. Just to find out we are “number 20 for take-off…”

6:44pm – Airborne. Things are starting to look up…

Categories: adventures, Autism, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, transportation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fourth of Jul-EYE

5:01pm – The pouring rain we’ve had for most of the day is finally gone. I check the radar on TWC and it’s clear through midnight, so I showered, got dressed, unplugged my phone (100% charged) and got ready to do some photographing.

5:35pm – As soon as I open the door to my condo, I heard thunder…or was it fireworks (it’s hard to tell on July 4th). The sky is half blue, half charcoal so it could go either way.

5:48pm – Trolley arrives. Unfortunately, it’s also “FULL.” It’s also raining out, and my rain gear is back in the unit (because TWC said it wasn’t supposed to rain for the rest of the evening). Now the entire state is red/green/yellow again.

5:56pm – Trolley #2 arrives. It is not completely full like the last one, but it was two stops later. Ugh, I hate super crowded buses.

6:08pm – arrive at Coca-Cola Orlando Eye complex, and stop at the Outback near the trolley drop-off. Hopefully, eating will ease my suddenly sour stomach.

6:15pm – as expected, it was crowded (mostly by people waiting out the rain). I was fortunate enough to be seated immediately at the bar.

7:28pm – Leave restaurant, and the rain IS gone. The sky is clear, but it isn’t dark enough for fireworks yet so I decide to take some pictures around the immediate area to kill time. Yes, my stomach feels better.

7:36pm – Decide to get some ice cream and make my way toward the courtyard. It is surprisingly crowded considering the rain ended less than 20 minutes ago (sidewalk and artificial turf are dry too)

8:13pm – post a bunch of photos to the FB page. I probably should have posted them here…. I still can, hold on. Done, I love WP’s “backdating” feature.

8:27pm – Sunset, however my phone is at about 33% so the planned “Live” video of the fireworks show is called off.

8:43pm – The trolley back to my condo arrives… with exactly four other passengers on it.

8:59pm – arrive back at the condo where there is a near constant booming from fireworks that I know aren’t part of some official show. It will probably keep up like this all night.

9:13pm – I log back into FB on my laptop as my phone charges. I feel horrible about going back on the promise to my followers to “go live” with the fireworks.

9:37pm – a loud rumble of thunder puts the noise outside to an immediate stop. I’m hoping for a huge storm so I can get some sleep, but, no, the auxiliary show continued less than 10 seconds later.

9:47pm – Stomach is acting up again. I may end up spending the entirety of SeaWorld’s Fourth show in the bathroom. I never liked fireworks anyway…

Categories: adventures, florida, holidays, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, Orlando Eye, photography, transportation | Leave a comment

Norfolk: Day 4 – Portsmouth and other disappointments

It’s just after 10am, and I am standing on the dock outside the newly renovated Waterside Marketplace waiting for the ferry to cross the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth. The weather app on my phone says its 65 degrees and cloudy, but the chilly ocean wind makes it feel colder than that.

The small paddleboat arrived around 10 past the hour, it dropped off about a half dozen people and let the three of us who were waiting on dock onboard. The inside had a rusted floor with benches along the sides. Apparently, there were more benches in the center of the boat at one point, but they were removed, possibly to make room for the three beaten up fare boxes. The bench wasn’t all that comfortable, but it didn’t matter since it was only a 10 minute ride across the river to High Street landing.

Portsmouth is a charming, quiet town that kind of reminded me of a cross between Federal Hill and Fells Point. Unfortunately for me, I was visiting on a Thursday morning so nearly everything was closed: The Naval Shipbuilding Museum (for refurbishment until “early 2017”), The Lightship Portsmouth (open weekends only), Virginia Sports Museum (permanently closed) and a half dozen “historic homes” (also open weekends only).

That left the Arts & Culture Center (which was “between exhibitions”), the Virginia Children’s Museum, the TCC (Tidewater Community College) Gallery and the exteriors of various buildings. Oh, and I could purchase cheap looking, neon colored t-shirts at the visitor’s center which is coincidentally where I had to go anyway to get the ferry back to Norfolk – and it was only 12:30 (it would have been noon if I hadn’t stopped for lunch at Jimmy Johns on High Street).

I arrived back at downtown Norfolk around 1:25 where it was a balmy 69 degrees with partly cloudy skies, and I was nowhere near ready to pack it in for the day so I walked over to Nauticus (though most of the parks were closed off due to construction of the various tents for next week’s Harborfest). I walked up the ticket counter and the somewhat disinterested cashier sold me a normal base ticket for $15 (included a movie and a limited tour of the attached battleship). I couldn’t decide if I wanted a snack or to just upstairs to see the exhibits on the 3rd floor first so I chose the latter.

The museum itself is hard to quantify. It has some exhibits that are geared towards kids (like the entry on port Norfolk, the touch a shark tank or the small “aquarium” area – which makes the former National Aquarium in DC look HUGE by comparison), but the majority of the labyrinthine museum space is ship life, Naval history, Naval recruiting and the nearby Naval base – not many of which would be of interest to the 3-12 set.

The exhibits are small, superficial and dated with broken or worn out “interactives” and little to no flow between the tightly packed exhibits – which you can’t really skip as there is only ONE path through the exhibit area (as I found out when one of the barely crowded rooms was too noisy for my tastes). The only place in the gallery that wasn’t claustrophobically small was the end where the theater, the NOAA exhibit and the stairway to the actual Hampton Roads Naval Museum\walkway to the USS Wisconsin (which were both on the second level). Though I didn’t partake in either this time as I fell asleep in the 3d movie and took that as a cue to head back to the hotel… at 3pm in the afternoon.

Not yet, first I stopped into their gift shop (my favorite part of their museum), and then I went into their café next door… but they were closed so I looked around thinking I might be able to take some snacks back to the room with me. Then a black man in black shirt hauling a large trash can behind him comes up behind me:

“Ya know,” he said. “We got a full menu.”

“Yeah, thanks, but it’s closed. There’s no-one back there.”

“What was that? I said look up there. We got a full menu up there,” he said pointing up to the large black and white sign hanging from the ceiling that I’d have to be blind to miss (I couldn’t read it with my crappy vision, but I couldn’t miss it when I came in).

“And it doesn’t do me any good if it’s CLOSED because there is NO-ONE back there.”

“’No-one back there?’ I work the café. I’D be the one ringing you up. Now, if you want to order something. Order it.”

With that said, I immediately turned around and decided to get dinner in the hotel and then get a start on my packing. It’s going to be another long day of traveling tomorrow – and my toes aren’t even remotely healed yet…

Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, entertainment, ferry, museums, Norfolk, sensory processing disorder, transportation, Virginia | Leave a comment

Norfolk: Day 1 – Travel and tribulation

It’s 10am as I’m sitting here, fighting sleep in the middle of a crowded terminal and writing this intro while waiting for my flight to begin boarding. I had less then 3 hours of sleep as my shoulder and gut bothered my for most of the night and I had to leave the condo no later than 8am to get to the airport in time to get through both the chaos at AA’s self-check-in area and the notoriously difficult TSA screening area. This is going to be a great day.

So, we arrived at PHL approximately 20 minutes early. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that my layover has now gone from 2 hours and 40 minutes to just under 3 hours. Three hours at an airport is a long time so I stopped to get lunch in the food court between terminals B and C before heading over to the shuttle at gate C10.

I got off the half-full shuttle, walked up to the giant monitor above the “Information” desk and saw there was a flight to Norfolk leaving in less than 30 minutes from gate F29 so after some careful consideration, I decided to go for it. I get to the counter, speak with the middle-ages agent who looks at with a plastic airline smile and says:

“I’m sorry, the last passenger has already boarded, and the plane door is already shut.”

“So,” the gravity of the situation sinking in. “You’re not saying I’m too late?”

“Yes, but don’t worry. There’s another flight in only two hours. I’m sorry. Have a nice day.”

That’s the thing about people being “sorry” for me, it’s always bad news and their semi-sincere apologies never actually change the situation. However, I likes how she said “only two hours” as if pissing away time in an airport was easy and fun. It wasn’t.

I go back to the dining area near the entrance, put my bags on a chair and sit down at the table next to them. Less than a minute later, I’m approached by a blonde-haired young man in a bright yellow vest, probably going to tell me to “move along” or something.

“My name is Alex, and I work for the airport. And I have a, um, question for you. Are you coming in or out – arriving or departing today?”

“Both,” I replied cautiously.

“You mean like a layover, um, okay, thank you. Sorry for bothering you.”

What the hell just happened? I know he was fishing for a reason to toss me out of the airport, but his body language and anxious tone said otherwise. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was…. *facepalm*

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s TWO “missed connections” in less than ten minutes. Yeah, overthinking an awkward two-minute encounter with a super-hot airport employee I’ll never see again is definitely going to make the next hour and…ugh, forty-five minutes just fly by. It didn’t.

An hour later, I was sitting in the crowded terminal area when the gate opened and people stream out of the small plane parked outside said gate, down a set of narrow stairs and down a cattle shoot to the gate that I’m supposed to be traveling out of. That is not a good sign, and it was exactly what I was afraid would happen. Guess what, it did, and as a special bonus, I was too large for my seatbelt to fit correctly and my toes were scrunched up in the same under-the-seat-in-front-of-me area as my bag. I had friction blisters on my toes, and my vacation hadn’t even started yet. The good news was it was only an hour long flight. Yep, wait three to fly one.

I leave the plane, relieved that I’m exiting into the gate rather than down those narrow stairs, and pass through the windowed bridge linking the terminal to the main lobby (which resembles the pre-security seating area at MCO) – where I could see that it was pouring rain outside. It was almost 6pm so I stopped into the only restaurant in the building that was still open – a sports bar with more TVs than patrons despite the nearly full airplane I just got off of.

I finish my food and head downstairs to the Baggage Claim area where I eventually find an information counter. When I asked the clueless young woman in the beige Navy uniform where the ground transportation counter, she just looked at me blankly. Apparently, ORF doesn’t offer “shared ride services” so if I wanted to do anything besides pick up my luggage and take it to my rental car (duh, this is America – EVERYONE drives), I was like the Navy says “SOL.”

I take my hat out of my bag, flip the hood of my raincoat up and walked around on the median until someone asked if I “needed a cab.” It wasn’t my first choice of transit, but it beat walking around on an uncovered median for another 10-15 minutes as my vacation officially opened….

Categories: adventures, florida, flying, Norfolk, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Philadephia, transportation, Virginia | Leave a comment

Transit troubles

Note: These are some actual updates from my Facebook page of the same name about my day going to\getting back from seeing the new exhibit at Orlando Science Center (a traveling one at that). Some of said stats have been edited to fit a more detailed narrative timeline.

 

10:56am – Chased out of the apartment by the obnoxious noise the landscape crew was making with their mowers and whackers. I got everything together to go out… just in time to see them packing up as well. Maybe a little adventure will give this headache a chance to go away…

11:35am – Disembarked at Lynx Central Station and immediately traded my transfer pass for a Sunrail card as I figured (wrongly as it turned out) that an 11-minute train ride would be easier than a 25 minute bus ride… or it would have been except the last morning train left six minutes ago…and “mid-day” trains come at TWO HOUR INTERVALS?

11:55am – I am strongly considering opening my Lyft app and requesting a fricken ride. The only problem is the battery on my phone is running out so I shut it down for the remainder of the afternoon to conserve power.

12:25pm – I am hungry, and decide to go into the actual station itself to get something to eat. It turns out, the building itself is pretty bare bones with restrooms (complete with not-at-all-creepy “these restrooms are being monitored…” sign #eww), vending machines and a rack of schedules across from the entrance (which was closed due to maintenance).

12:47pm – I just finished lunch at their tiny in-station café. No menu, no tables and the cashier tried to rip me off, but it filled 15 minutes so whatever. Yeah, meanwhile, I am sitting here realizing how noisy it is out here: birds, buses coming\going, station announcements and guys with leaf blowers (because someone hates me today).

-1:13pm – Only fifteen minutes to go. ^_^

-1:28pm – After watching two Amtrak and one southbound Sunrail train zoom past me, the Northbound train to Orlando Health finally arrives.

-3:38pm – On my way back from Orlando science center. I was there to see their temporary exhibit #AstronautOSC. I haven’t decided if it is worth writing a review of or not. I like space stuff, but this exhibition was kind of #meh.

-5:04pm – Got on at the wrong bus at the transfer so the driver rudely threw me off at the last stop. He did begrudgingly let me back on 15 minutes later with a condescending lecture about it being “YOUR responsibility to make sure you get on the right bus.”

Sorry, I keep forgetting I CHOSE to have a brand-new car totaled by a teenager I never saw coming. The best part, the state rewarded my pain and suffering by revoking MY license forcing me to deal with assholes like this. 😡

-5:21pm – Thanks to that blunder, I arrived at The Florida Mall about 40 minutes later than I planned. I have less than 20 minutes to get dinner on the opposite side of the mall before my transfer pass expires (as he refused to issue me a new one). Fortunately, it’s a food court, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

6:20pm – On my way back now, I had to use my last remaining ones as my transfer pass expired just as I was leaving the food court… but I still haven’t decided if I’m doing a full write-up my visit to OSC. Fortunately, I have just over a half-hour to make up my mind…

Categories: adventures, Autism, florida, LYNX bus, Orlando, sensory processing disorder, Sunrail, transportation | Leave a comment

Misadventures in Sanford

10:19am – A later start then I would have liked, but I am ready to go out and take photos today. I never did post those pictures from Epcot International Festival of the Arts as they’re still on my phone…the one I forgot to plug in before I got in the shower. Eh, whatever, I’ll be back before it dies anyway.

11:20am – I was starving when I got off the bus across the highway from the Sunrail station (the closest the driver would drop me off as she INSISTED Sunrail doesn’t operate on weekends) so I stopped at the McDonalds adjacent to said station. I’d already missed the 11am train so I had a bit of time to fill anyway.

-1:06pm – I arrive at Sanford Sunrail Station, the expansive parking lot is empty and there are no buses or cabs in sight. I put the zoo’s address into Google Maps and let the friendly GPS lady (whom I can barely hear) guide me.

-2:01pm – Google sent me Rand Yard Rd, which is a one-lane service road for the distributor on the corner and after traipsing through several acres of scrub grass I found myself in some kind of landfill\processing center (looked deserted, but it was a weekend). The latter was fenced off (10 feet from the connection street Google wanted me on) but no, I was the correct route so I was forced to backtrack all the way back to the main road and follow their DRIVING directions to the zoo.

-2:53pm – Finally arrived, with slightly under 2 hours to see everything. I haven’t even gone into their iconic pink\red gate yet, and I’m already exhausted.

-4:09pm – This very well could be a post of its own, but I’ll put in here anyway. No, I’m not going into a tirade about their tiny cages stacked on top of each other. No, my complaint here is that after I left the zoo, I asked the worker at “Admissions” window (couldn’t find “Guest Services”) to call a cab for me.

She looks at me like I’m stupid: “Duh, just open your Uber app, and they’ll…okay, fine, I’ll see if I can do that for you.” She disappears behind the wall for a moment and comes back to give me a sticky note with a phone number on it: “You can call them whenever you’re ready.”

“I don’t have the reception or the battery life for it,” I said showing her my phone with its 22% power that’s supposed to last until I get back.

“Nah, you can do it,” she said with a shrug. “After all, YOU’RE the one who wants it.” Yes, she actually thinks she’s doing me a favor. But at least she pretends to “believe” in me.

I go over to the parking area and do MY due duty as a cab wanting citizen. “I’d like to or… I said I’d like a cab to… I SAID ‘I’D LIKE A CAB TO…’“

Like I said, a huge fucking favor. People are staring at me because I am literally screaming at the top of my phone, and he STILL “can’t hear” me, but, hey, the girl at the “Admissions” window said I “could do it” so why disappoint her?

Finally, I get far enough away from the kiddie rides that he can finally hear me, and at 4:25pm, a black minivan (they sent a minivan for ONE person?) finally pulls up to the curb outside the gate.

-4:48pm – Cab driver conveniently “missed” the station saying ‘’don’t worry, we take the entrance around back.’’ Nice try, I saw the back of the station, there is no “entrance” there. Any other lies you’d like to throw at me?

-6:05pm – Arrive at the Sandlake Station. I spent the next ten minutes waiting on the only bus serving the station on weekends before stupidly deciding to get dinner at the Denny’s adjacent to the station (I should have used the dwindling natural light to find the next regular bus stop). Don’t get me wrong, I was hungry and the food was good, but service was definitely of the turn & burn variety (even though there were only five other patrons in the entire restaurant).

-6:47pm – It is pitch black outside, save for half lit store signs across the street and the blinding glare of the speeding cars. Oh yeah, perfect conditions for finding a bus stop in an unfamiliar area – especially since I now have an extremely expensive brick in my jacket pocket.

-7:39pm – After waiting at the unlit stop for approximately 15 minutes (my only source of time is a dead phone), the bus I wanted finally arrives. I take a seat and fight sleep for the next hour.

-8:49pm – Arrive safely back at the apartment. I’m glad I’m out of quarters since my feet will probably need all day tomorrow to recover from that “shorter route” Google Maps suggested (that ADDED an hour of walking to my trip). Don’t expect any updates from me before noon.

Categories: adventures, florida, photography, Sanford, Sunrail, Zoo\Botanical Gardens | Leave a comment

Holiday week in review

Dec 21st – My flight from Orlando to Baltimore was frustratingly delayed over an hour for unknown reasons so it was already dark by the time we landed at Baltimore-Washington International. I’m used to BWI, but I was completely unprepared for cold, wind… or the 35-cent increase in Light Rail fares. Due to my relatively late arrival in HVTC (7:30pm), mom decided she would pick me the next morning so I had an awful dinner at Panera Bread and could barely find my hotel in the scarcely lit side street surrounding the mall, let alone feel my ears\nose\fingers.

Dec 22nd – Overnight in Hunt Valley. Nothing exciting to report here except that I was going to post Hanukkah memes, but couldn’t find enough that weren’t juvenile or anti-Semitic. I’m all for humor (which is why I compile these meme posts to begin with), but NOT at the expense of others.

We got back to Shamokin barely in time to meet my aunt (yes, THAT one, and while I wasn’t looking forward to it, it went relatively well) and her boyfriend at a popular pizza place in the next town over. I say “barely” because mom turned down the wrong street and got completely lost so we had to ask Siri how to get back. However, I can say with certainty that “the best pizza in town” isn’t.

Dec 24th – Normally, we spend Christmas Eve going to my parent’s friends the Nye’s house for a special holiday themed “open house” at 5:30 for dinner (featuring “Uncle Paulie” in the world’s least convincing Santa outfit) before heading over to the Candlelight Service (7pm). THIS year, instead of doing that we went to my brother’s house in Nazareth for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family (wife, and two young children). It was loud, hectic and crowded, but I got some nice pictures.

Since said dinner wasn’t until at least 5pm, mom decided it was safer to stay overnight. I was downstairs in the basement on an uncomfortable air mattress with sheets that were too small to actually be of any use. Fortunately, the ticking of the clock 3 feet away from said mattress was loud enough to keep me awake until the heat kicked on around 2am.

Dec 25th – Did I mention, the kids “slept in” until 6am? Slackers. By the time I admitted defeat and headed upstairs around 7:15am, the living and sitting rooms were a complete war zone. Toys, wrapping paper, boxes, unopen able plastic containers. On the plus side, my “gift,” a plastic card for a gas station (your brother has no license and no car and you get him a gift certificate to a gas station?) was waiting for me in a tiny box in an otherwise untouched stack of gifts on the other side of the sofa. Breakfast was at 9am and was good. As soon as we finished, we packed our stuff in mom’s van and drove 5.3 miles to my OTHER brother’s house in Bethlehem.

It was 11am by the time we arrived, and my sister-in-law had just put out the last of her Christmas brunch. My mom chastised me “how can you say you are trying to ‘lose weight’ when you had not one but TWO breakfasts in two hours?” The conversation at the table I shared with my mom, brother, SIL and her parents quickly went from light and humorous to dark and slightly disturbing (dead pets, bird attacks, death camps and Donald Trump. I pitied my SIL for trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. After less than an hour there, we left and made the roughly 90-minute commute back to the middle of nowhere, where we could contemplate our nothing lives. At least, I don’t need a password for my mom’s wifi…

Dec 26th – Before today, I would have assumed this would be a separate post. You see today is the day BOTH my brothers came to Shamokin and brought their kids with them…but we weren’t here to celebrate Christmas. We were here to work, cleaning up the garage, my dad’s den and what’s left of the basement. We got the den passable – in that one is actually able to pass through it without killing themselves.

The reason only ONE of the three areas was tackled was our mom decided since my eldest was coming in around 11am, we would meet him at a REAL pizza place along with my aunt and her boyfriend (who was able to come in because it was “slow” in his shop), my other brother came in with his family at quarter-til-12 so we weren’t out of there until almost 2pm.

After this, we were ready to work…until my middle brother got an important call on his cell which left us in limbo for almost a full hour. Finally, we get to go outside and open a mysterious chest in the garage (dad wanted “all 5 boys” present for it, but my 3yo nephew and his older sister went home with their mom after lunch). Good news, there was stuff inside it; bad news, it was boring stuff so my SIL took my remaining nephew home while the three girls stayed behind and played Clue in the living room with gramma while the three of us tackled the desk\cabinets\miscellaneous stacks of paper between them (dating back to 1973). The girls definitely won the night…

 

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, coal region, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, holidays, light rail, Orlando, Pennsylvania, transportation, weather | Leave a comment

Live blogging Hurricane Matthew (Thurs morn)

10:01amOrlando Weekly is reporting that all state offices are closed, all tolls are lifted and that some hospitals in coastal areas were evacuated.

10:03am – The University of Miami is officially on “emergency lock down” – all classes are cancelled, and all retail and offices are closed for the day. Limited dining service is available in the two campus dining halls as long as weather permits, MREs will be available in the Residential Hall lobbies for times when the cafeterias close.

10:20am – Orlando International Airport announced it will be suspending all flights in\out of their airports at 8pm.

11:15am – Sunrail suspends all service through Monday (they don’t offer weekend service)

11:20am – Universal announces it is closing all parks including Wet N’ Wild and CityWalk at 3pm. Disney parks are apparently still open as well with guests going about enjoying their day despite the weather (at the moment is light rain with relatively calm winds).

11:30amTheme Park Tourist posted that all Disney Parks will close at 5pm, Legoland Florida will close at 5pm as scheduled and SeaWorld will close at 2pm.

12:14pm – TWC is predicting 5-7” of rain through Friday night with wind of 40-50mph with gusts of about 60-65mph. It is not expected to make landfall over Orlando, but we are still under a “Hurricane Warning.”

12:43pm – Not currently raining out, but the winds are strong. The proverbial calm before the storm.

 

Categories: disney world, florida, hurricanes, news, Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, South Florida, transportation, Universal Studios, weather | Leave a comment

Not even a lollipop

Woke up in a relatively good mood this morning (which is extremely rare for me), and the first post I saw on FB was an uplifting meme listing “positive traits” of people with Dyslexia\ADHD\Aspergers (I’m all three) … and got “Sad-Mad” (to quote the movie Home) as most of them didn’t apply to me.

I look up and it’s 9am, and I can’t leave yet because I need to finish the laundry I started yesterday so I have clean clothes to match my hopefully clean teeth. When the drier finally buzzed, I pulled everything out, hurriedly showered, got dressed and raced downstairs to the approaching trolley.

I’m not a runner, but I didn’t have time to wait “45 minutes” for the next trolley. I get to the corner exactly as the driver gets to the stop and then I really have to move getting within feet of the stop…just to have him shut the door and lurch the bus forward before opening the door again. Hilarious.

“Of course I saw you, dumbass,” he said as if he actually expected me to laugh “with” him. I drop the quarter in the box and could feel everyone staring at me as if their obviously amused smiles would make this less awkward. It doesn’t.

The driver lets me off at Sandlake and International at 10:43am. According to Google Maps, it’s a “21-minute” walk from there to my dentist’s office, but I somehow made it to his door at exactly 11am – hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but exactly on time.

I’m not a fan of going to the dentist – especially after a root canal, an extraction and a prophallactic something (which sounds a lot more fun than it actually is). Fortunately, my teeth and gums are “recovering nicely” (or so the doctor I’ve never seen before told me), but I still needed a half-hour of poking, prodding and scraping that unlike haircuts never actually gets easier (hair is dead, my mouth isn’t). Now I have to schedule a 90-minute bridge installation for either Thanksgiving or my birthday – yah!

The first thing I did after escaping the awkward conversation with the receptionist was get lunch (not even a lollipop). I wanted something fast and there was a McDonalds on the way to Wal-Mart (my next stop) so why not? It was fast and it was food so that was all that really mattered to me.

It’s a long walk (with zero shade) from Sandlake to Wal-Mart, but I survived, entered the store and made a beeline for the watch area where the sole woman working there semi-busily goes between unloading boxes to chatting with passing coworkers to telling customers (all of whom arriving at the counter AFTER I did) at the jewelry end of the counter she can’t help them to disappearing into the back room until after 10 minutes of waiting she finally decides to get rid of help me.

“Do you need help with anything,” she said more as a formality than an actual question.

“The battery on my watch died about two days ago.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t fix watches here. Where did you buy it from?”

“Wal-Mart,” I replied knowing full well if I said anywhere else she’d tell me to “just take it there.”

“We don’t fix watches,” she said flatly. “Try some other store. Florida Mall or something.”

“In other words, I came out here for nothing.”

She shrugs and goes back to half-heartedly unpacking boxes and chatting with passing coworkers.

I leave the store empty-handed and I would have walked back to I-Drive, but there was, conveniently enough, a cab parked directly in front of the store.

I get in and give him the address. He looks at me like I’m nuts, but starts the cab anyway.

“I am not familiar with that address,” he said with a soft yet indeterminate accent. “You will TELL me where to go. Where do I go? Left here?”

“Right,” I corrected.

“Okay, I will turn left at exit to store.”

I swear, I’m the only one who listens to me… either that or I’m trapped in the least funny episode of Seinfeld EVER.

“No, I said turn RIGHT at exit to store.”

“So, right here?”

“Yes, then left at the next exit.”

“Okay.”

“You can’t miss it, it’s the building on the left with the bright green metal roof. Of course, I said that to the last driver too and he still…”

“Who it is you [are] babbling at? I need directions, and you are babbling incoherently while I am trying to drive.”

It’s never pleasant being reminded of how others see\hear me. Important? Yes; Pleasant? No as it puts a damper on otherwise polite conversation.

“So you say ‘go right at exit,’” he asked interrupting my brooding inner monologue.

“No, I said ‘turn LEFT at the exit.’ If you go right, you’ll ne…”

He screeches to a halt in the middle of the busy road, turns around and points at me angrily.

“Do you want me to ‘go left’ or ‘go right,’” he snaps. “Which one is it, or do you not know where [the] fuck you [are] going?”

If we weren’t in the middle lane, I would have gotten out, but I’m not partial to getting killed by a speeding car. Moreover, if the big sticker on the window reads “passenger is responsible for all tolls and fees,” who would be “responsible” (I already know who he’d blame) if a car rear-ended us because of HIS stunt?

He starts the cab again and begrudgingly crosses lanes to the rightmost “left-turn” lane just a few hundred yards before the turn and then immediately gets back into the right-turn lane for whatever reason. I ask why he is in the right lane with his right blinker on when the building I requested was obviously to his LEFT so he growls, goes back into the center lane and eventually into the right “left-turn” lane.

Once he got on Westwood, even he could figure out where he was supposed to go (as it’s literally the only “bright green metal roofed building” on the street). I wasn’t planning on giving him a tip, but the fare came to $13.50 (which explains his desire to do a circle tour of I-Drive) and I had three 5s so he was getting a 90-cent “tip” (he forgot to turn his meter off when we were stopped) anyway. I exit the cab, and while he was leaving I traipsed over to the mailboxes and pull two bills and the usual cadre of junk mail that fills the entirety of my tiny mailbox on a daily basis (except Sunday) and head back to the unit.

I came back inside, toss both bills on the counter and open Facebook just to have my “okay” mood spoiled by another uplifting meme about “sharing my thoughts” as it’s a concept which has gotten me in trouble a few times this year (as my thoughts are nothing more than “manipulative lies” designed solely to make people “feel sorry” for me… until they finally realize “the sad fucking joke” that I apparently am).

I look up from my laptop and see it’s pouring rain outside. It’s okay, I had enough sunshine today anyway…

Categories: adventures, dentistry, florida, Health, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, retail, transportation | Leave a comment

Hanging in

Wednesday: Missed the bus to the airport this morning because I went to the wrong stop. In fairness, it WAS 5am and I was running on 2hrs of sleep (after packing and making plane reservations). I barely made it through security in time for my flight, but with the exception of minor turbulence coming into Charlotte, the rest of my trip went relatively smoothly with me arriving at MDT at 1:07pm (four minutes ahead of schedule).

My brother Andy and I arrived at the house around 3pm, and I almost didn’t recognize it: as he and my older brother Ned had spent the past four weekends sorting out his stuff whenever he fell asleep. It was a huge deal to be able to not only see but to actually be able to walk across the floor without worrying about knocking any of his towering piles of stuff over.

The meeting with the funeral director was long and arduous as we went over details for music, flowers, even the menu for the wake (to be held after the service). Then came the part about interviewing us for the obituary (which he initially said would run as a “teaser” on Friday and “in full” in Saturday’s edition). Once that was over, we met with my aunt Mary-Ann and her boyfriend at a local sports bar. It wasn’t necessarily my first choice (our options are kind of limited in town), but we did have a good time considering the circumstances even if I was on the wrong end of the table to make any meaningful part in the conversation.

Thursday: The funeral director came by in the morning to drop off the galley of the obituary for “corrections.” God, did it need them as everything they could get wrong, they did: his name, his place of birth, his rank in the Air Force, etc. Their grammar was almost as bad as their notetaking so I was basically forced to rewrite it from scratch as many of my dad’s friends came by or called to wish us their condolences.

Most of the afternoon was spent helping my brother cleaning up my dad’s den\garage. Piles of books, papers, folders, etc. were all boxed up and taken to the recycling center over on Venn Access (the garage alone took two trips – and we only tackled the front half of it). It wasn’t much… but like mom said to someone on the phone:

“It’s amazing how quickly you can delete all traces of a person’s life,” she said continuing with a sigh. “One day you have valuable possessions and then s-suddenly it’s all ‘trash’ to be thrown out.”

Friday: Woke up to see the changes Andy made to the obit this morning’s paper (I dreamed they made a bigger deal at the paper: editorial, op-ed & memorial cartoon). It made it seem so “final.”

I’m doing my best to keep everything together. Today is a “slow” day (most of his friends were here\called yesterday) It’ll be MUCH harder tomorrow when the rest of the family starts arriving for the viewing…

Categories: coal region, family, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

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