Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I spent my Christmas weekend in Bowie, MD, this year, visiting my father and stepmother instead of my usual Johnstown holiday vacation. After four years of Johnstown at the holidays, I was ready for a change.

I got caught in the mess at Penn Station on my way out last Wednesday. My scheduled train had a mechanical problem which eventually forced Amtrak to cancel the train. They'd already told the big-city passengers to move to the Acela on the next track, so they sent the rest of us headed for small towns (like New Carrollton, MD, the closest stop to my dad's house) back to the concourse to catch the next train. We boarded another train scheduled to leave at 9:41 AM, but it was sitting on the tracks with no power. None of the tracks had power. We sat on this train for about 45 minutes before the conductor told us all to get off the train and take the PATH commuter trains to Newark, where we could get on southbound trains. So we all trudged over to 6th Avenue and crammed ourselves onto a PATH train. At Newark no one from Amtrak had any idea what was going on. Some of us discussed the idea of renting a car. Shortly after noon we heard that power had returned at Penn Station and that trains were moving again. Around 12:45 my train pulled into Newark and many of us crowded onto it. Somehow I got a seat. After five hours, I was on my way. I got to DC just in time to meet some friends for dinner at Clyde's near the Verizon Center.

The rest of the trip was far less exciting. I spent several hours going over music, recordings, and photos of my grandfather and family for a website project that is scheduled to launch early next year (or whenever I get around to launching it). My mother drove down the day after Christmas for a visit. I got to watch the Steelers edge the Ravens and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. And most importantly, I was able to spend some time with my father, who I never seem to see often enough.

I returned to New York on Monday afternoon, somewhat revitalized. Vacations help but returning home always seems to bring out the same old stressors. Still, it's good to be back and I'm looking forward to a better 2010. This year didn't turn out quite how I'd planned. Next year will definitely be an improvement.

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