austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Nights are cold on this airfield; I sit alone and watch the radar

We were in the long, skinny line for the lone screener at Trenton's tiny airport when I realized the disaster. I had left my iPod in the rental car. I'd got in the habit of leaving the iPod in the armrest cubbyhole, and there it went invisible, and we got our stuff out of the car and returned the keys and took the shuttle from the warehouse area of the outer airport grounds to the tiny terminal without my realizing. And now, with under an hour to takeoff, I had to get it back. I left the line, telling bunny_hugger to stay while I dealt with this, and she didn't.

After a few minutes of not seeing the rental shuttle I realized of course they wouldn't be sending the shuttle around; with no incoming flights there weren't any people who needed to go from the airport to the rental desk. bunny_hugger had the printout of our rental receipts, and that had the number, and I called and explained the situation. In a couple minutes the agency guy, who worked the counter and drove the shuttle and prepped the cars and everything, was driving up with the car we had used the past week, and handed me the iPod and cable. Crisis resolved.

So now we just had to get back in the line and ... oh, the security line was almost gone. OK. Through to the tiny waiting area which, thanks to airport renovations the last few years, now has bathrooms and even a little bar. We could watch the news, featuring the New Jersey budget standoff and how Chris Christie was caught lounging on a public beach closed to the public. So we were enjoying the Republican pettiness and thinking how nice it would to be to bunny_hugger's parents in a couple hours, to collect our rabbit and to see the fireworks in their town. And then suddenly everything went wrong.

What, I'm not sure I ever got straight. But our flight was going to be delayed. By six hours, they figured, so we might get out of there around 7:30 and get to Detroit around 9 pm. I think they had to get a plane up to Trenton from Miami or something like that.

So.

First thing. There are airports where you can just kind of wander around aimlessly for six hours and at least be tolerably amused. Trenton's is not one of them. It's about the size of our dining room, and the rack of free magazines promoting Mercer County as a place to do business threatens to knock the place off balance. Of course, as public space, there aren't lockers, so there's no stowing your carry-on bags for a couple hours. And even if there were, it's in the middle of farmland-turned-into-McMansions; there's nowhere to go in walking distance to do stuff. Rent a car? For a couple hours? Maybe cheaper than taking a taxi there, but still, not great.

So we faced a right boring afternoon sitting in airport chairs and hoping the flight would come a little sooner. We thought we were stretching out what we had to do in pretty good form. For example, by holding out in the security-area waiting lounge until almost everyone else had left before collecting our meal vouchers. But that meant that everybody who was going to be on the flight was eating before us, and the bar/restaurant is not equipped to handle a plane's worth of people getting burgers. On the other hand, what did we have to rush for? We could sit and wait, watching like a hawk for signs that people were actually leaving their table. People were bad about this, although some of that might have been they didn't have the staff to clean tables promptly.

Mostly, the problems stem from the fact Trenton is a tiny airport, and that's all right normally. But if something goes wrong they don't have the reserves to handle that without it being a big mess. So we may be giving up on it, at least until they can do things like not have every attempt to fly out of it involve some crazy problem.

Well, there were tiny bits of good news. The six-hour delay shrank, a little bit at a time. Is it better to spend only five hours in a tiny airport with no services, not even public Wi-fi? Better than six hours, anyway.

Getting to bunny_hugger's parents house was ... well, we maybe could have got there in time for the city fireworks, since those have to be after dark and dark comes really late in Michigan in early summer. The state is really far west for the Eastern Time Zone. But we didn't think that wise; we'd have almost no time to spend with her parents. So instead we went home, and felt that great comfort of being back home, at least.

Trivia: There was one newspaper in New Jersey in 1777 (the Gazette); ten years later there were four. Source: New Jersey From Colony To State, 1609 - 1789, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang, Jonathon Green.


PS: The Merry-Go-Round Museum!

SAM_8214.jpg

View from just inside the main room of the Merry-Go-Round Museum's working carousel and some of the exhibits on the far side. It's a nice big circular room, as the building's exterior implies should be.


SAM_8215.jpg

A curiosity: the Cyber Coaster, formerly in a little nook in the far side of the above picture, would show a ride video from Cedar Point's Gemini roller coaster. It didn't shake side to side or anything, the way ride simulators in disused corners of shopping malls would. It just sat there. Now it sits somewhere else and the monitor showing the picture was gone.


SAM_8222.jpg

More secondary figures: on the back of this tiger are a cherub head and an irritated-looking eagle. Why? I don't know, but file this image away for a later nightmare.


Tags: fifth anniversary trip, halloweekends, merry-go-round museum, new jersey
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