When we arrived at the store it was to find a gratifying melee of shoppers carrying shopping baskets *FULL OF BOOKS*. I cannot tell you how glad that made my heart. That there are people out there still willing to go out and buy book piles by all these fabulous authors sitting around the signing area, people who love to read, people who are simply there for the sake of the Written Word. I myself sold more than a dozen books on the night, and signed far more than that when people brought their own copies in for me to autograph; it was a very good night. After, we went for dinner at a nice local pasta restaurant, where we enjoyed good food and excellent company, and then we were dropped off back at the hotel where we picked up friends in the lobby and sat chatting with them ("We are the dead dog party", we were told, and we saw no reason to doubt them) until reasonably late, and retired to bed.
We were woken the next morning - WOKEN UP - by an insistent knocking on the door and an attempt to use a key card on it, accompanied by a refrain of "housekeeping!"
Given that on the first day of our arrival our room had STILL not been serviced by mid-afternoon - say 4 PM - the fact that it was suddenly essential to do this before 9 AM - on the day of departure! - was a little annoying. I didn't put up a "do not disturb" sign on the door - never, in the history of my staying at hotels, had it been necessary in this context. I personally don't care when the cleaning staff start their duties on any given work day - but I would personally assume that potentially disturbing hotel guests before 9 in the morning (and it doesn't matter in the least if said guests have been out of the room at 6 AM) is a definite no-no.
Well, either way, I had been woken up suddenly and I had woken up annoyed so I was grumpy as all get go. The thing that I was holding out for, which would have improved my mood no end, was a nice meal at Wilf's, that little railway station restaurant in Portland which serves such damned good food. We'd fallen foul of them once before when we had counted on them to be open, and they had decided to close up shop on a major holiday - okay, I could make a case for that, even though I feel strongly that this is a restaurant AT A RAILWAY STATION and its clientele are the railway passengers and they are STILL travelling on a holiday so you don't get to take it off - run the place with a skeleton crew if you have to! But this time the holiday was over (Thanksgiving was long past) and there was no reason to suppose that the place would be closed. So I had a cup of coffee at the restaurant, and nothing to eat, seeing as we would be having a nice meal at Wilf's.
We get to the station, and hellllo! It's 11:38, the place says it's open at 11:30, but it's locked up tight - and then I see a nice little note in the door. "Closed for holiday decorating."
Okay, this is just not defensible. And I was not the only one who thought so - another woman who was there when we were was as outraged as I was and later I overheard people talking about it on the train - that's at least half a dozen disgruntled customers that you lost that day, Wilf's, and they may or may not trust you again. Holiday decorating should be done on your own time, if you choose to do it. SOrry, but these were people who were travelling and who would have paid good money for a good meal - you don't turn them away because you want to hang up Christmas lights. You guys don't open until 11:30 anyway - how about you haul in staff or friends or family or whatever it takes at 9 AM - and maybe open at 12 instead of 11:30 - there's a heap you can do with a few pairs of willing hands in three hours' time, you aren't decorating the Rockefeller Center, just a small restaurant, and HONESTLY I could have lived without the doily snowflakes if I could have had food. As it was - well, we've eaten worse, but our substitute meal (canned chicken noodle soup, hot dogs, french fries) was neither healthy nor all that filling and it was twice as unsatisfactory when we thought of the alternative that we COULD have had.
Sorry, folks. You run a service industry. If you want to run a hobby restaurant which opens when you feel like it you might consider relocating to a site somewhere other than a place where you're the only good game in town and people are counting on you. None of us were asking you to do it for free - we were all ready to pay for the privilege of eating there - but you have to be OPEN for that to happen.
Do I sound peeved? I was. Mightily.
ANYWAY. We get onto the train, which usually runs straight through to Bellingham with a layover in Seattle. Not this time. This time we all had to pick up sticks and transfer to another train - much chaos and milling about ensued, particularly since we were supposed to transfer from seats assigned in Portland to a situation of "just find a seat and sit where you like". And it was another full train. And then we had to wait out south-bound trains in sidings in the dark. Suffice it to say we were more than half an hour late into Bellingham, and it was 10 PM by the time we got home.
I think I hate travelling. I like BEING in nice places doing interesting things - the convention was great, and very enjoyable and useful - but the getting there is increasingly becoming a massive chore. Hates it, my precioussss. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky (and any snarky commentary on that will get snarklily answered, thank you very much).
On with real life.