Getting There [And Back Again] Is More Than Half the Fun


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That title is a cliché, but when you travel with Johanna and Kathleen these things just tend to be true. Mildly disastrous, terribly hilarious, but true.

Over the weekend, we journeyed to the Nassau Coliseum (true story, home of the NY Islanders) on Long Island. Why?

Far too many people asked us that question over the course of the evening, and far too many times did we inform judgmental strangers that Smucker’s Stars on Ice was our destination. Just to be safe, I thought I would really hit the fact home here and elsewhere on this great internet. Smucker’s. Stars. On. Ice. Excellence.

But first we had to get there.

We met romantically in the “New Non-fiction” area at the Madison Square Garden Borders and then descended into the depths of Penn Station. After a brief chat with surprisingly friendly employee we selected the Huntington Line and purchased our tickets to the fine hamlet of Mineola. Perhaps you are familiar with the automated ticket machines… wait for it. So I purchased our tickets with cash– a rookie mistake. I slid two twenties into the slot, which accepted them quite happily, and then came the sinking feeling…

…And then came the sound of a slot machine. I got my change in the form of fistfuls of golden Sacagawea dollar coins.

And that is why I generally use a debit card.

[Note: I have already spent some of the coins; there were originally a lot more.]

As I gathered my piles of gold from the change tray, I turned to Kathleen and declared, “I feel like a pirate.”

It was not to be the last pirate related incident of the evening. In fact, one might call it foreshadowing.

So we romantically shared a sandwich on the train in a weird little cubby hole seating compartment, read a few old Sports Illustrateds (I was really wondering who won that final USA/Canada game), and pondered what sort of folk would be in attendance at the Nassau Coliseum. We were figure skating performance virgins.

Old Country Road, Mineola

We disembarked in fair Mineola and pondered the options. We were almost an hour ahead of schedule. There was a taxi stand… but there was also the GPS on my phone and time to kill. The GPS informed me that there was a mall nearby, and being Manhattanites, Kathleen and I thought to ourselves, “When was the last time we encountered a mall?”

So we strolled up to Old Country Road and took a walk. People driving past probably stared. We saw maybe two other pedestrians over the course of thirty minutes.

Along the way we discovered that David could live happily in the suburbs, based on the culinary offerings available on the single road that we encountered.

Upon arriving at the mall–where we had dreamed of finding a Target–we realized that we were never going to get to the venue on time. We also noted that the last time we had seen a taxi was at the train station.

I would like to take this moment to thank my Motorola Droid for using GPS so efficiently to look up the number for a local cab company.

You know what is difficult? Calling a cab to a suburban intersection. Locating an address on a suburban thoroughfare. Being those two girls who decided to walk to a suburban arena.

Kathleen spent far too long on the phone attempting to convince the dispatcher to send a car to our intersection.

She was treated to another conversation with the dispatcher when moments later she actually managed a feat of Olympic stature: hailing a cab on a suburban route. It was magical. The next magical thing that happened was the cab driver asking us what we were seeing at the Nassau Coliseum and then enduring his incredulous response when I explained that there was a figure skating show going down. He proceeded to laugh at us the whole way over our attempt to walk from the train station [in addition to probable judgment about the figure skating, which I repeat… judge away: You are missing out.].

Khan, for this was his name, obviously though that we were hilarious/tragic and upon dropping us off asked, “So, do you have any way to get back to the station?”

Good question. So now Kathleen has Khan’s cell number just in case we ever need a cab again in Mineola, Long Island.

At the arena Kathleen procured her first fast food nachos since she was an almost elite swimmer, and we ascended into the nose bleed section. The floor was sticky, the lights were magenta, the air was crisp and life was becoming more and more complete.

We settled in with a surprising number of middle-aged couples, one of whom was quite unpleasant and another who had luckily retained the enthusiasm of youth and squealed with us every time Michael Weiss did a back-flip.

Those are my favorites.

Fast forward to our return trip, since clearly the event itself merits a post dedicated completely to the splendor that was.

The show ended fifteen minutes too late for us to make our train: 9:45. With the next train slated for 11:03pm, Kathleen and I set off into the night to find a snack and a way back to Mineola Station.

Conveniently, there is a Marriott directly across the parking lot from the Nassau Coliseum. Interestingly, there was an entire army of Asian flight attendants just checking in as we arrived in search of both a taxi and a snack.

We wandered around the hotel for a while, encountered a vending machine (where I wanted to use a golden dollar from my stash, but Kathleen preferred to go the paper dollar route), and finally picked up a cab from the line out front.

Our second cab driver of the night proceeded to joke with us about selling babies to China as cheap labor while cautioning us not to fall asleep in the car because we should be alert of our surroundings… it was creepy as all hell.

We arrived at the station with forty minutes to kill. Since Kathleen had neglected to wear outer wear of any sort, we resorted to the local pub where imported draught beers only cost $2.50.

I know!

After a Carlsburg, we finally got on the train. It was the wrong train with a terminus at Jamaica instead of Penn Station. Sinking feelings all around.

Three things happened: First, we encountered the most adorable dachshund puppy on the train. Secondly, we got yelled at by the conductor for not having listened to the inaudible announcement. And third in the list of joy was sighting a pair of girls–probably 17 to 19 years old– pouring cheap chardonnay into big plastic cups on the train. They were on the wrong train as well and we rain into them again on the platform at Jamaica waiting for the next Manhattan bound train. We had a lovely chat about figure skating and were even invited to partake in the wine. We declined because, after all, it was probably difficult for them to procure that alcohol and we were heading straight to a cocktail on the other side of the river.

Once on the train we had yet another conversation with people sitting across the aisle because we needed some insider advice on the Long Island Rail Road. It was confusing. They were from my Grandmother’s old town. They wondered why we were on the train. We told them that we were headed back in to the city rather that out into the city. When pressured, we told them where we had been. They stopped talking to us.

When we got back to midtown, we immediately had ourselves a pair of hard-earned and well-deserved Long Island ice teas.

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6 Comments

Filed under Adventures, Out & About

6 responses to “Getting There [And Back Again] Is More Than Half the Fun

  1. Sounds like our adventures every time we are in a major city (especially Chicago). Have been to NYC dozens of times and still manage to miss trains at Penn Station, or take the wrong subways and end up in Harlem (true story). So glad you had fun at the SOI show- I hope they come to Lake Placid next year! 🙂

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