Saturday, August 24, 2019

Couldn't resist the opportunity...


. make a solo trip to  Hagerstown, MD for something the wife had no interest in attending: a display of airplanes at the Hagerstown Aviation Museum.   Many of the planes on display were actually built in Hagerstown – by Fairchild, before they closed the plant there in 1984.

Some of the planes built there are ones you might recognize:  the C-119 “Flying Boxcar,” the F-27 small passenger plane (under license from Fokker/Hiller), and the A-10 “Warthog” (which is still in use by the US Military today, thus they don’t have one to display.)  Below is a picture of the elderly C-119, which was open for inspection. 

Interestingly, even though I was wearing my black skirt, I was able to climb up the ladder into the cockpit of the C0119.  (However, it seemed soldiers of that era were obviously in better shape than many of the visitors…LOL!)  

I had sufficient foresight to be wearing a pair of black “short shorts” underneath my skirt (since I left from home).  To anyone looking up as I climbed the ladder, it would present as the “shorts under a skort.”  So I didn’t have to miss a chance to sit in the pilot’s seat!   (My visit coincided with the departure of Allegiant Airline’s 737 from the airport.  And I got a pic!)  

Not sure who, if anybody (there was nobody in line behind me  at that point) thought they’d sneak a peek! But had they tried, they would have been disappointed.  I was a bit surprised at the relative simplicity of the instrumentation, compared to more modern aircraft.

Almost the whole time I was at the airport, I was either addressed as “Ma’am,” or without a gender specific greeting.   Except when some 20something guy accidentally bumped me and said “excuse me, sir.”   I’m not sure what brought that on, because as the day progressed, it was the only instance of hearing “Sir.”   Maybe he was just trying to be mean?

The most amazing thing on the whole trip happened as I exited.  I asked a question about a plane of a man in the booth at the exit gate.  He answered my question, and said “you certainly look familiar.  Don’t I know you?”  I had checked his name badge before starting the conversation, just in case.   “I don’t think so…I’m not from the area.”  Discussion went on in this vein for a few more exchanges.  Including his question of whether I work in the governor’s office of a nearby state.  (Which I don’t – I retired almost a decade ago, and not from a job in any state’s governor’s office!)

Finally he came to the conclusion that “Your doppelganger still works there, and she is without a doubt your double!”   I thought to myself – but didn’t say it – “poor girl…I hope she looks better than, not just like, me…”   

Fortunately (or maybe not), this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about my doppelganger.  Years ago, when I was still working, the secretary in my office commuted to work by train with her hubby.  One morning, she asked me if that girl on the train, wearing a dress, heels and full makeup was me, since we looked so much alike.  I couldn’t possibly have been there, based on where I lived at the time, how I got to work, and my arrival time, so my denial was truthful.  But I offered to let them check out my car to put the matter to rest.   Fortunately, they let it drop…though if they had checked, there was nothing in the car to give away my “secret”, and the engine would have been cold, an indication I didn’t just arrive at work at the same time they did.  

Based on those past incidents, I’m quite certain that at least a couple of folks out there somewhere (not sure if they’re guys or gals) look almost exactly like the “female” me!   There have now been too many sightings to dispute it.  (But it also gives me substantial “deniability!”)

Once I finished up with the guy in the booth, I set my GPS for Hagerstown’s City Park, to see if I could find their steam locomotive display.  I had been there years ago, and it was sitting out in the open, vandalized.  (Yes, they have had vandals in Hagerstown.)  In the process of looking for the park, my GPS sent me in circles.   As luck would have it, there was a police officer using radar, and I pulled up behind the cruiser, getting out to ask where I can find the park.  That female officer was very friendly, addressed me properly, and told me how to best get there.  Nice!

And I finally found the train display – behind locked gates.  From afar the locomotive appeared to be in better shape than the last time I saw it.  And they added a few “cabeese” along with a playground for kids, and some artifacts.  It would be nice to come by when it is open.

More later…


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Never had this happen before!

Recently, my wife and I were seated at a diner about 150 miles from home, and the thirty-something female server with VERY short (translation: not feminine at all) hair said “Hi girls…what can I get you to drink?”  We both asked for “just water, please.”  And with that, she took off to get it for us.  I made no attempt to soften my voice, and I was wearing androgynous women’s shorts, flats, and polo top.  She may have seen my purse and nails when I walked in…but I’ll never know.

Then came the absolutely amazing part.

When she returned with our drinks, she apologized profusely for mis-gendering me, and said she simply assumed I was a girl because of “your beautiful long hair.  And I get mistaken for a boy all the time, so I know how that feels.  Once again, I’m so sorry!”   My wife remained silent (though I didn’t notice her blushing or anything like that.)   But I thanked the server for her compliment about my hair, and accepted her apology (though I wasn’t at all offended…LOL!)   She treated us very well the rest of our meal, arranged for an extra big helping of dessert, and we left a nice tip.  

Usually once I’m accepted as a girl, most folks continue that acceptance, even once the revelation strikes them that I’m not what I seem to be.  So this was very unusual…and my wife was also surprised.  (But after it happened, she didn’t mention it again.  Nothing else was said.)

On to the next topic:

During a recent trip through PA, we managed to become prosperous!  As long as that condition can be achieved by visiting Prosperity…a tiny Pennsylvania “burg” by that name.  Not a big town by any means (and it’s halfway between nowhere and nowhere else), but there is still an open post office, and some of the homes are old but very pretty.  A picture of the post office is below:

Legend has it that the name came from the enthusiasm of the original settlers, who were anxious to do well in the future.  So they named their town “Prosperity.”    Can’t say that their plan worked, but the place was far from decrepit, as so many rural communities are. 

I guess it all depends on your interpretation of “prosperity.”

More later…


Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Next Morning...

After a decent night’s rest at the hotel, it was time to check out the part of the Riverwalk which I had not covered the previous day.  On my way to the car with the first load of my things, the man who checked me in the previous day said “Good Morning, Ms. Sherman.”  (I was wearing a different skirt and blouse…  

Of course I responded appropriately, and after the pleasantries, I inquired as to whether anything had been decided as to an adjustment due to their not having my reservation when I checked in (despite my written email proof.)  “We’ll have that info when you check out.” 

So I made another trip to the room, finished loading the car, and checked out.  And found that they had awarded extra points to my frequent traveler account as the mainstay of their “adjustment.”  But in addition, I was surprised when the man offered to “take you to breakfast this morning, on me.”  since their facility does not offer a free continental breakfast  Initially I interpreted it as a nice gesture in an effort to apologize for the mix-up when I checked in.  But I had to move on, and in fact, I’d brought my own breakfast from home. I politely declined.  So he  gave me his card with an offer to make it happen on my next visit… 

That made me begin to wonder…was his breakfast treat an “official part of the hotel’s apology” or was the guy kinda-sorta “making a pass at me and asking for a date?”   That certainly would be a  “first” – but something  in which I have no interest    I can smile just a bit at the mere thought of “it being a pass”, but in reality, I suppose I’ll never know.   And that’s a good thing!  (In the event I end up in town sometime in the future, I’ll most likely use another hotel…especially if I’m with my wife!)

After checking out, I drove to the Riverwalk and parked the car.  It was time to check out the other half of it.   A very pleasant walk…past an empty outdoor beer garden which I had seen from its other entrance the night before when it was open.  It certainly looked different when quiet and lifeless.  

On the Riverwalk was some sort of event center with pub, which catered to the 20-something set, and on a Saturday morning it was booming…with loud modern music “literally booming.”  Young folks were standing around talking, and I was expecting at the very least, stares – or possibly even comments.  No worries…it didn’t happen.  I strolled right on through the crowds, without noticing any “stares or side glances.”  And definitely no comments.  (Yes – sunglasses, even at that early hour – are wonderful!)

And as I looked out along the river, there was a crew out practicing their rowing.   Well, almost all of them…a couple of them seemed to be barking the orders!

In the shadow of the Amtrak station and elevated Northeast Corridor trackage, is the old Baltimore and Ohio station.  A bank took it over, and repurposed it…which is better than seeing history destroyed!  (The road in front was apparently the former right-of-way!)

At that point,, my objectives had been met.  I reversed direction to walk back to my car.  But I took a moment to get a pic to share with you:

It was a fun day…and now I await my next adventure…whenever and wherever it may be!


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

An adventure at the hotel...

Afterward it was time to check in at my hotel, and then head for the Shipyards area, to do some exploring on foot. 
Checking in at the hotel was an adventure…    I was initially identified as female and addressed as “Ms. Sherman,” but the overall experience was definitely a challenge.  They couldn’t find my reservation.  I had proof, in the form of a text message from the reservation office, and a printed copy of it, but they could not find it.   Needless to say, I was not "s happy camper."   But I tried to react more like a woman than a man, so I was polite in dealing with them. 

I was preparing for them to say they could not give me a room…at which point I would've had to dredge up the standby line that I’ve only had to use once previously (and very successfully)  back in the late 1980’s.  What precipitated that "back in the day" was being told by the hotel manager that the conference hotel (it's name began with R but it’s not Red Roof Inn) was completely sold out and they could do nothing to help, despite my reservation and the fact that I was attending the conference.

There were other customers standing in line right behind me, as I asked the manager:   “If President XXX walked in to stay with you tonight, you’d find rooms for him and his entourage, right?”  Their answer back then (and presumably any quality establishment’s response now still would be – or maybe not, given the current political situation ) was “Of course we would, absolutely.”  To which I responded:  “Well, I can assure you he won't be arriving here tonight.  I’ll take one of those rooms.”  
The manager's chin dropped to the floor.  And to my amazement, it actually worked…I was given a room.   There's never been a reason to try it again.   

Back to the present:  after a 20-plus-minute wait, staff “found” my reservation…with apologies, but no reduction in rate.  I asked them to see what they could do and they said they’d let me know at checkout.  It was fun, in that every staffer in the vicinity by then knew me as “Ms. Sherman, the lady with the lost reservation.”   And I finally got the key to my room…to relax a bit before going out for dinner.  

Enroute through the lobby on the way out to visit the Shipyards area (i.e. get dinner and sightseeing), I was still “Ms. Sherman.”  So nice to hear that, even if they happened to be aware of my true gender (which is at least possible, due to my driver's license and affinity card info!)   I stopped at the children’s museum in the area to check it out for our granddaughter, and get a brochure with info.  The receptionist (middle-aged female) interpreted me as female, and answered all my questions.  A nice place…hopefully one day we can return with our granddaughter.

When I got to the restaurant, their greeter (a 20something girl) told staff that they can seat “him” (wearing a skirt and top, of course) in that booth over there (the place was crowded).  That was the only notable instance of being clocked on the entire trip.  Were I truly female, I’d have been upset enough about being identified as male to have a little chat with management and then walk out the door.   The food and service were OK…not great, just OK.  After a quick dinner, I was headed out the door.  

There is also a fun little boat ride available, on their imitation paddlewheel "steamboat", which gives tours of the river area:

 I didn’t have time to sail on it this trip, but it’s on the list for next time.   

So I continued walking partway downtown on the Riverwalk along the Christina River,  a signature  natural feature in the Shipyards renovation.   Lots of folks were enjoying the walk in the warm weather, and folks playing mini golf were having fun.    Finally it was time to head back to the car...and return to the hotel for the night.   The Wilmington skyline is pretty, with the river in the foreground.    I decided to come back tomorrow morning to finish the walk.

Once back to the hotel, it was time to settle in for the night.  But I was still Ms. Sherman as I walked thru the lobby....

More later,


Thursday, August 1, 2019

At's time

...for Mandy to get out and about, even if only for a couple of days...

With my wife visiting her sister, there was a perfect opportunity to go north to the Wilmington (Delaware) area and ride a tourist train, then stay over at a local hotel and the next day, do some downtown sightseeing as a possible venue for a short trip with our son and his family.  (There is a nice children’s museum, which would be the keystone of the trip.)

Having tried on my entire limited wardrobe, I found only a few unpleasant surprises of things which either didn’t fit right or didn’t look right.   Finally I settled on my gray elastic-waist knee-length skirt and black ¾ sleeve top for the first day, and elastic-waist knee length black skirt with medium blue polo for the second day.  I also took my denim jumper dress with white polo along, as a back-up outfit, and wore existing flats, since I wasn’t ready to wear my new ones without first wearing them for some partial-day trials.   

Prior to my trip, I had my fingernails done, and the tech decided that I should sport white tips - which she painted on top of the acrylic, so they would look pretty for my trip, but not be “permanent” - flashy is not my everyday style.  Here is what they looked like, while holding one of my new flats and wearing my choice of footwear:

Both pairs of shoes are cute, and comfortable, and look quite girly with my black skirt.  As do the nails!  I look forward to spending lots of quality time in both!

While driving north on the Delmarva, I stopped to get a picture of what looked like the scene of an airplane crash.  However, it wasn’t… 

Upon closer inspection, it's a roadside attention-getting prop for Frightland, a seasonal “haunted adventure” for kids and adults.  (See the facility in the background.)  Don’t think I’ll be going there, but it definitely is a very eye-catching way to advertise!

After learning the basics of my way around downtown Wilmington, I arrived early at my first stop: the Wilmington & Western Railroad.   That let me park my car in one of the few shady spots – a good thing on a hot day! 

Staff was of course friendly, but they universally omitted any references to gender, which is always OK by me.  (Between the skirt, long hair, and French tip nails, I must have provided enough cues that they didn’t go with “Sir.)  I got my ticket for the first trip of the day, and enjoyed my ride very much.  Interestingly, the younger set on board – under 4 years old – mostly smiled and waved at me – and yes, I always smile and wave back.  The moms and dads smiled, too, with occasional small talk.  Sort of like being around their grandma?   Then I stuck around for the second ride’s departure, and took some pictures.   (All the folks on board waved at me, and I waved back.)

Picture-taking included, of course, the obligatory one of me standing beside the doodlebug:

If you’re ever in the area, take some time to ride.  It’s been years since I rode a doodlebug at the East Broad Top (which is now permanently closed), and the W&W has done a great job of keeping the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad relic operating.

More later,