Thursday, September 11, 2008

Part 2 of our NY trip

The next leg of our trip wasn't exactly harrowing, but we were certainly on an emotional roller coaster the first hour or so of the trip to upstate. We had been informed by Amtrak in a phone call earlier in the week that our train was not going to go all the way to Saratoga like our tickets said. Apparently there was work being done on the track, so we could only go as far as Albany. From there we'd have to take a bus to Saratoga. We were told to visit the ticketing counter or customer service to see what we had to do to exchange our tickets for two tickets (one for the train, one for the bus.)

We found the customer service desk and we were told (in a rather harsh tone I might add) that our train was CANCELLED because of the hurricane. The man at the desk said the best we could do was get a refund on our tickets and try taking the bus or something. We were dumbstruck. Hurricane Hanna had cut a wide swath into our plans. Dejectedly, we got in line to exchange our tickets. While waiting we discussed the possibilities. Would we have to spend the night at the train station? Would we call Peter and Jeanne to come get us? Slowly we shuffled forward.

When we came to the ticket counter we were told that our train had NOT been canceled. Line 291, which was ours, was only going as far as Albany, but that was the plan for which we were prepared. It was line 91 that was completely canceled because of the hurricane. Our proverbial sails had been reinflated and our good mood and excitement quickly returned.

It rained the whole ride to Saratoga, but it was a comforting sort of rain that lulled us to sleep on the train and the bus. Impressively, the bus arrived at the same time we would have expected had we taken the train all the way. I was glad to have our trusty "65 Roses" umbrella along.

Our friend Jen picked us up and greeted us with wonderful hugs. It was so great to see her! We have been friends with them for about 5 years, most of which has been long distance. They only lived in California for a short while before moving back East to be near family. We visited them 2 years ago, and being back with them felt like nothing had ever changed. Of course, plenty has changed! Their little boy is almost 3, they have a little girl, and are expecting their third in January. It was exciting to see how God has blessed them.

We love being involved in the lives of our friends' kids, and this trip was no exception. We could hardly wait to give the kids the gifts we brought. The kids were thrilled. We had been warned that the kids might not like us because we're unfamiliar, but that was no problem once the gifts were opened! We had so much fun playing with them.

Watching Brad with the kids was really heartwarming and precious. He jumped right in there and played rough with Josh, and treated Hannah like a little sweetheart princess. When we all went to the park on Sunday, Brad didn't hesitate for a moment to help wrestle the kids out of their car seats. He held their hands, carried them and was basically and honorary uncle for the weekend. I got some really adorable shots of him with Josh at the park.

We ended up going to Congress Park in Saratoga on Sunday instead of going to church, because we found out that there was a recently diagnosed CFer in the congregation. Since I have cepacia, I had to stay away. Our friends were quite disappointed because they had told this woman all about me and were anxious for us to meet. I hate how isolating CF is. Nonetheless, not going to church gave us a chance to spend even more time together chatting and catching up.

The park was absolutely beautiful and so was the weather. The kids chased the ducks and we all enjoyed walking along the trails. We found a rather odd sign posted though. It was supposed to say "Do not feed the ducks" can see for yourself.

Saratoga is known for horse racing, so the park featured a wonderful little carousel. It reminded me of the one from Mary Poppins. The horses had real horse hair tails, and the paint jobs were exquisite. Riding the carousel was only fifty cents per person, and parents of children rode for free. We thought it would be fun to take the kids on it, but Josh flat out refused.

Dave and Jen explained that they had taken him on it before and he hated it. So this time it was Hannah's turn to hate it! Jen and I rode with her, and the poor little thing trembled the whole time. Every time we passed Brad and Dave she cried a little bit. Not really a wail but more of a "help me Daddy!" sort of thing.

To be honest, I wasn't thrilled about the ride myself. It was a small carousel, so it turned in a tight rotation, and the horses moved up and down quite a bit. I was glad it was a short ride!

After the park we met up with Jen's sister and brother-in-law and their little baby, Sammy. They took us to a restaurant called "Friendly's" and it sure was. They explained to us that coming to the East Coast and not eating at a Friendly's would be like coming to California and not eating at an In n Out. It was your basic greasy spoon diner, but the real draw is their ice cream. They call their desserts "Happy Endings." The chicken strips meal I ordered came with a free "happy ending." The ice cream was great, but Brad and I had to admit that the food really did a number on our digestive systems.

The rest of the afternoon/evening we spent with Dave and Jen and the extended family. We all watched some football together, and even prepared dinner together as a group. It was so much fun to be included as if we did that sort of thing every weekend together. They are such a sweet family. I loved playing with Hannah, Josh, and little Sammy. All three kids loved the fuzzy bunny toy and took turns with it. At one point in the afternoon Dave got the "menfolk" to help him winterize the pool and pick up all the apples on the ground that were rotting.

On our last day together we just hung out at Jen's mom's house, which is where we had slept. It was hard to say goodbye, but I'm sure we'll be back again. That's one advantage to not having kids. We're very mobile!

Here are the rest of our pictures from our time in upstate NY.

Wow! You guys packed in quite the trip. That was a close call with the train.

Friendly's wasn't so nice then was it?

When ya coming up this way?
Thanks for sharing your trip. I've only been to NYC once, but I'll never forget it.

Even better is being with friends. What a nice visit you had.
I guess I am what you call a blog stalker, but your blog touched me as my husband has worked with 65
Roses through MLB for about 25 years. I was cheering on the success of your trip and was glad it worked out and was so successful. Man, you pack a lot in to a few days of travel. You go girl. I continue to anonymously cheer you on, as I am sure, so do many others.
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