Sunday, June 27, 2010

Notes On Traveling

After seeing a post on Joe.My.God. about a show in NYC called Celebrity Autobiography, I made a last minute decision to go down for Pride Weekend and see it. I'll have a review post up in the next couple of days.

Okay, so here are some things I discovered:

• Ya gotta have a government issued photo ID with you. I didn't and was almost up shit creek. Since I've lost my wallet a couple of times, I now go sans wallet. My drivers license is tucked above the driver's side visor in the car in case I get pulled over. I'd like to think I still need it to buy wine, but those days are long gone, and usually the clerks call me "Sir."

I've been without ID now for about six months and haven't thought anything of it. I go to check in at the YMCA on Friday, and they require an ID. "Ummmmm, it's in my car in the parking lot back in Albany." At first I thought I was in trouble. I'd reserved and given my credit card online before the trip so I figured all was in order. The clerk seemed perturbed and just slid my room key at me. I guess it was my good fortune that the folks ahead of me had given him a hard time and was in no mood for further disruption.

Next was Amtrak. I wasn't feeling well on Sunday so decided to ditch the Pride Parade altogether and go home ASAP. The ride itself is 2.5 hours and I just wasn't going to make it until 9:30 particularly in such high temperatures and humidity.

My train was scheduled for 7 p.m., it was now 11 a.m., and I was going to exchange my ticket for the next train out. I've done it before. Except now there was a big sign "Have your ID available" in the window. Uh-oh. Well, I wasn't technically buying a ticket, I was exchanging! Hold on, pardner, that story didn't fly with Miss Amtrak. No way, no how. But I could use a machine to buy a new ticket and then get a refund on the old ticket in Albany. Which I did. Except that the newly purchased ticket said that ID's would be checked on board. I got on board and hoped for the best. I told myself that the $5 I'd left for the maid at the Y was my good karma deed for the day and I'd be rewarded. And I was...the ticket was taken, punched, and no ID required.

If everyone had been assholes, I wouldn't have had a place to stay or been able to find a way home. I didn't have my notebook so I couldn't just hop online and make alternate plans. Honestly, I wonder what I would have done. I can't imagine I'm the first person to not carry ID. What if someone had stolen my wallet, what then?

• When something can go wrong, it will go wrong. I've been battling another kidney stone for about 3 months. Lots of blood in my urine but no real pain. For the last 2 weeks, things have been fine. Of course, on the train ride down, I start with pain in my back. I swear it isn't just my mind that works so hard to defeat me, it's my body too. Sure enough, tons of blood. The most in months. I didn't get very good sleep and combined with the dehydration of the hot weather, I was spent. This is what made me decide to leave early. I just keep seeing myself in a fit of pain in a strange place. It's bad enough when you're going through it at home, let alone away.

• Just because something has a long line doesn't mean it's the best thing ever. There's a place in Madison Square Park called the Shake Shack. I guess it's been on the Food Network and written up in a couple of travel mags as one of NYC's hot spots. I passed it on my way to the Celebrity Autobiographies show at about 6:30 and the line was about 1.5 hours long. For burgers and shakes. And you can track the length of the line at their web site.

At 10, after the show, the line was about a half hour. I had just bought a chicken and rice dinner from a street vendor which was delicious. I decided to get one of these shakes for dessert and a treat. For $5.50 I got a small chocolate shake that was pretty mediocre. For my Orange County readers, it was like Foster's Freeze shakes at El Pollo Loco.

More on my trip to come. Two show reviews and I have to look at the pics and see how they turned out. I'm still struggling to figure out how to take shots at night on my Nikon D80. It was so much easier on my old fashioned film-based Nikon EM. Sometimes being digital and practically all automatic is a bad thing.


ArichNY said...

I'm sorry that your kidney stone had to act up for this trip! :-( I miss have NYC close. Sending healing thoughts your way!

Sean said...

Sounds like you had a nice weekend even if it didn't end perfectly. Fell better.

scarsarestories said...


For one, the "identification" issue. More and more often, I'm asked by various "cops" (mall, campus, transit...not the actual police...) if they can, "see some identification". My answer? "Absolutely not." I don't know why I'm a target - because I dress a little eccentrically? Because I smoke cigarettes? Something about me has always been "just a little off" in the eyes of the majority of the general public - but why exactly do I need to "identify myself" constantly now? Are the words "bipolar queer" actually stamped on my head? In some kind of ink that is only visible to people who think that because they're wearing a uniform, they have the right to harass me?

Second of all - in February my partner and I went to Peru. I was quite ill at the time and scheduled for surgery, but we thought some R&R in a beautiful place. Unfortunately, our hosts had different plans for us. We believed we would be staying at their home in Cusco. Instead, we were taken on a whirlwind tour of the worst spots in the country. Taking a flight over the Nazca lines made it worth it. A week into our journey, my partner had a feeling we should return home, but I thought it was just homesickness. When we took a domestic flight to Iquitos, the capital of sex tourism and exploitation, I started to fear that indeed, the situation was only growing worse. The next morning we woke up with e.coli poisoning. The others got over it in a day, but after three days of delirium, I ended up in a Peruvian hospital. It was rather unnerving to be hooked up to an I.V., not being able to speak the language, and thus not having any idea what was being pumped through my veins. :???:

We caught the next flight back to Canada, somewhat miraculously, as our hosts had an altercation with the manager of the final hostel we stayed at, and took off without paying their bill, leaving us in the lurch. There is only one flight from Lima to Toronto per week! We're located in Vancouver, and also decided to take a trip to escape the horror of the 2010 Olympic Games.

While we waited at the gate, we listened to others chatting about how much fun they had in Cusco. :lol: Since our flight was delayed until 3:40 am, this became a little tiresome. We were also rather peeved that we had been asked for "identification" at about seven checkpoints, each after which we had to pay "airport improvement fees". They grew more and more expensive each time. When we finally boarded the plane, the pilot announced the reason for the delay:

"They had been refurbishing the runways."

So that's where our money went! Sadly, the trip ended up making me much sicker, instead of being healing as I thought it would be. "Luckily", I had to have emergency surgery (endometriosis/ovarian cysts), so by the end of May I was back to myself again - originally the surgery had been scheduled for late-June. They also discovered a bowel impaction - whatever I was given in Peru did not flush the e.coli out, it made it stay in one spot, festering!

We realized that our home would have been a better place for a vacation - we're both graduate students and the campus was shut down for the "Games". It actually took us a long time to recover from the trauma of being led on a wild goose chase by a friend we hadn't seen for several years.

I'm sure your journey will be more pleasant than ours :)