for the RWA National Conference was far easier than I expected. I’d read up on all the new rules and regulations, enough to unnerve anyone who hadn’t flown in a couple of decades, and just as we were leaving yet another over-zealous security horror story popped up, this one involving a 95-year-old lady in a wheel chair.
I was also traveling with someone using a wheelchair, and the security people couldn’t have been nicer. At the Houston airport, on a Monday morning when there was a high volume of travel, we scooted through a scanner in no time. If anyone on the viewing end of that got a charge out of the image, I really don’t care. From my point of view, it was simple, quick and effortless. I forgot to take off my belt and drop it in the tray with my purse, tote and shoes, but the genial security man just laughed and asked me to hand it through to him before I posed for the scanner. We were asked to remove our Kindles from our tote bags, but not to turn them completely off (I think I know how to do that).
On the way back, on Saturday afternoon at LaGuardia, there was not much of a crowd, and travelers moved quickly through the standard metal detector. The underwiring in our bras did not set off alarms at either airport. Nor did the small scissors in my carry on. And the attendents couldn’t have been nicer.
Our checked luggage came through with a delay, or a scratch, on both ends of the trip, as did the TSA approved combination locks we used.
On the way to the hotel on Monday, our driver, a gregarious young man named Ravi who wanted to discuss legalizing marijuana, quickly realized from our rather clueless questions that we didn’t know anything about New York. He was only too happy to tell us where we were (Queens, mostly), what bridge we were crossing (Queensboro), and where and when to spot the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building from a distance. He even tried to explain to us how it was possible to survive in the insane traffic in Manhattan. Our Saturday driver was less talkative, but he took us along the edge of Central Park, where we passed the long line of calm horses harnessed to their carriages, and a few of them ambling down the middle of the street with tourists in tow.
The hotel, the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, was gorgeous, and every staff member we met was courteous and helpful, from the desk clerk to the concierge, the housekeeper to the lady in the business center who helped us get our boarding passes printed on Friday. And then there was the young man who led us on an expedition to the service elevator when the regular system overloaded and shut down for a few minutes under the strain of a few hundred women leaving workshops at the same time.
The elevator system is amazing, 18 cars if I am counting correctly, 14 of them glass on three sides, none of them with internal controls (except of course for those mysterious buttons that only firefighters are allowed to touch). Prospective passengers punch their destination on one of several external panels, which tells them which car to use. From practically any of the public areas, you see the glass cars shooting up and down the 49-story central atrium.
The rooms were lovely and, despite dire warnings circulating via email in the weeks just before the conference, absolutely free of insects of any description. The worst thing we could say about ours was that the coffe maker didn’t work (no problem for me, I don’t drink coffee) and the thermostat was a bit quirky. The housekeeping service was excellent.
We didn’t have time to do much sightseeing, but we ate at a couple of wonderful restaurants (Junior’s and Scarlatto) near the hotel and gawked at the billboards in Times Square like the tourists we were. We watched a mounted policeman issue a ticket to a parked UPS truck while taxis screeched by a break-neck speeds. We saw people from everywhere on the planet walk by.
It was a great trip, but we weren’t sorry to head home after such a busy week. It was the predictable 100° when we landed in Houstonat 3:20 and 101° by my car thermometer when I left my friend’s house for the drive home to the Clear Lake area. By the time I got home, it had plummeted to 98°. Not a drop of moisture in my rain gauge either. Just another hot, dry week in Houston.
My cat purred as soon as I picked her up. I’m glad to be home.