Late Saturday night, I flew up to San Francisco arriving a bit after midnight. And then the comedy of horror began. It was horrorful enough that my connecting flight to Philly wasn't 'til 6 in the morning. What I shoulda done is stay where I was in Terminal 3 until the morning. But I attempted to get to Terminal 1. First check, the little monorail thingy was only running one direction, and it was the one that took me on a long loop out past the post office, the rental car thing, and back into the airport and finally to Terminal 1. Then Terminal 1 was was shut down for the night. No one at the airline desks. No one manning security. I guess I hadn't considered that the TSA ever takes a break from probing citizens. So I, and a cohort of fellow sufferers were trapped on the outside of Gate-land. A strange little world of airport after midnight was then opened up to me. I found myself on the floor, with my head under a bench to shade my eyes from the blinding overhead lighting, while Zamboni-esque carpet cleaners roared back and forth down the aisles, conscientiously avoiding running over any of my fellow sufferers (so far as I know).
I can't say I slept, but brief periods of unconsciousness may have occurred. In the almost morning, most of us queued up to greet the very first security detail of the day. Once the floodgates opened, I got through and found a place to buy a sammich to stow in my carryon. Unfortunately, their registers were down, and they were doing it all by hand. Fortunately, they all had the amounts with tax more or less memorized, but adding up multiple items was complicated. I made it through, and ultimately on my flight to Philly. But as I waited in my aisle seat, booked long ahead of time, the aged Asian crone came down the aisle and pointed at the middle seat. I let her in, but then she amplified that I was to take the middle seat, as she was old and infirm and so there. I shrugged elaborately, which actually got a lol from Mr. Window seat. My vengeance was complete when the drink cart smashed into her foot a few hours later.
We landed around 2 PM in Philadelphia, and I caught a cab to my hotel, which had a jaunty modern vibe. I was encouraged that the first thing you see when you come through the door is not the reception desk, but the bar. I got to the room, got settled, and then headed out for a bit of sightseeing. Virtually across the street from the hotel is City Hall, with William Penn on top. Just past the convention center, I found myself in Chinatown. Obviously, NYC has a Chinatown, but somehow I never envisioned such a thing in Philadelphia. Further east brought me to Independence Hall; I'd seen it and the Liberty Bell the last time I was here, so ventured further on past Christ Church and on to the Delaware River, with New Jersey and the USS New Jersey on the far shore. On the PA side of things are some other ships of note: the Spanish American War-era ironclad Olympia, flagship of (then) Commodore Dewey, the WWII-era submarine Becuna (selfie), and Moshulu -- a four-master now home to a restaurant that I'd stumbled upon in my preparation for the trip. We will return to Moshulu, never fear.
Heading back to the hotel, I lucked out in passing by the Christ Church Burying Ground, where (though closed) Ben Franklin's grave lay right alongside the sidewalk. At the hotel, I cleaned myself for the first event, the S* press conference, held on the top floor of the Loews hotel, affording fine views of the city. After the business of the evening was attended to, Glenn, Tanya and I had a little snack back at the hotel, lubricated by a fine Aviation, each. For the record, that's short rib empanadas w/ Green Goddess + Harissa Sauces and the Amuse sliders: Short Rib & Aged Cheddar, Pork Belly Confit & Giardiniera, Merguez & Harissa Pistou.
Monday, I worked my ass off, and then attended the W* reception, held at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (do forgive them the giant dog poop). The building impressed me somewhat more than the art inside, although there were a few excellent pieces. Freedman portrays an unusual subject. A current exhibit featured female artists, including many who have been students at the PAFA. I liked the contrast of Victorian ladies depicting a nude model in Alice Barber Stevens' B&W painting. People may argue about whether this stained glass is fine art, but you can't fault the technique of Tiffany Glass. I wish Pittsburgh looked like this Fritz Lang-esque painting. And I give big snaps to Gertrude Abercrombie's darkly brooding self-portrait. But again, sometime it was the architectural details that stole the show.
Tuesday, I worked my ass off, and then Glenn and I went to Moshulu. Though getting there was half the fun. Though I had walked it, I didn't suggest that. Looking for a taxi, there was actually a 'limo' (really an SUV) parked in front of the hotel, so we let Limo Kev (like Disco Stu) take us there. He was a great character, and showed us this and that around town as we made our way to the restaurant.
Now a restaurant, parked in place, Moshulu has quite a history. We had a pretty fantastic meal. My greatest quibble is that the bartender was unfamiliar with the sazerac, and had neither rye whiskey nor absinthe. But the manhattan I wound up with was perfectly fine. Our server was great, and we even scored a free appetizer, though as it involved sea-bugs, Glenn got to enjoy it all. For the meal, he opted for mahi-mahi, while I had the NY strip steak, with horseradish cream (thankfully more horseradish than cream) with a side of asparagus. It arrived at the perfect time when I had finished my drink and was ready for a glass of the nebbiolo, which was a fantastic complement to the magnificent steak. The asparagus was perhaps too tarted up. I did like that they had mixed in some Spargel-esque white asparagus, but the goopy sauce and onions didn't do it for me. Afterwards, Glenn and I clambered about the ship and deck a bit, before walking back to the hotel, passing by the historic highrises (though note the cobbled streets).
Wednesday, I worked half an ass off, and then Glenn and I went to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch, where I had a fine hungarian sausage in a roll at the German deli. I also stopped by the chocolatier, known for unusual forms. I picked up a dark chocolate liver for Dr. Pookie, which may not have gone over as well as I had hoped, despite its obvious romantic cachet. Then I worked my other butt cheek off, until it was time to head to the airport.
On this journey, I had a short commuter jaunt to DC, which irritatingly turned out to be 40 minutes late on a 23 minute flight. This put my connection to LA in jeopardy, and I made like OJ at Dulles, particularly, since the connecting flight was in a different terminal, and the plane landed at the same time the connecting flight started boarding. I was partially satisfied that (at my age) I outpaced the twenty-nothing Asian girls in a similar plight, but ultimately made it to the gate with 9 minutes to spare. Then the ghastly near-6 hour trip occurred. I tried to stay awake as much as possible to try to readjust to PDT. The girl in the middle seat did a lot of nodding her head down and jerking awake... looked awful. Landed around midnight in LA (aka 3 AM in Philly), stole a ride on the Parking Spot bus, so I could walk to work, where I got in my car, and finally found my way home.