Train Trip Day ONE

Vacation!!!  Haven’t had a vacation get-away since April of 2008!!!  Heading to VT, MA, and CT, visiting friends and family.  I decided to do a train to the New England states.  I figured a flight plan to all stops would kill me financially and I was feeling adventurous anyway, so the train was the perfect choice.  I logged on to the Amtrak website, was easily confused trying to find all the stations that I needed to go to so I decided to make it easy upon myself so I ran to the nearest Triple A place and begged for help!  Then a few days before leaving on the trip I logged onto the site again to check out the luggage info and to see if they had a “Bar Car” that some friends told me about.  I discovered they had a “Cafe Car” instead, but still serve alcohol, and I also got my luggage requirements.  The luggage as a carry on couldn’t be larger than 28″ x 22″ x 11″ and weigh no more than 50 pounds, lucked out on the size but not so sure on the weight….seriously.  I was concerned that I went over.  I had no idea on what to pack, figured layering my clothes would be the easiest as far as staying warm or cooling off.  Have I mentioned that I have a tendency to overpack???

Here’s how day one is going so far:

Jumped on the train in Lancaster.  Train station is VERY old and falling apart.  I snapped a few photo’s but they didn’t turn out so well.  However, the station reminded me of something out of a movie.  Old wooden benches, information booths with fancy ironwork on the windows, a big clock and tons of people milling about.  My fiend and I checked out the tiny little station, then sat and chatted until they called my train.  No where do I find a place to weigh my luggage, the girl at the ticket counter just swooshed me away to Gate 1 with no regard to my bags.

My train is called, my dear friend escorts me onboard, hugs and he’s gone.

I settle into my seat, pull out my granola bar and snuggle in for a long exciting ride.  And then there’s this announcement.  We all need to get off the train and board another train.  No I didn’t make a mistake, I’m assuming the girl at the window that told us all to board at Gate 1 was incorrect.  So I drag my large heavy suitcase off the train, head back up the elevator, head to the other side of the station, get on that elevator to finally arrive at the other train, along with about 100 other folks.

So I snuggle in yet again, finish my granola bar and pull out my book.  The Conductor made his way about the train gathering tickets and “punching holes” in the ticket.  The scene reminded me of  “The Polar Express”.  I didn’t hear Tom Hanks shout “all aboard!” nor did the hole punching create the snowfall of paper holes, but I was expecting it!  Can’t forget to mention the train whistle, love hearing that as we chug along, going clickity clack.  Okay the Amtrak does not chug nor go clickity clack but I’m pretending that it does okay.  I mean, it sort of does.  And ya get shimmied a little too, sometimes a lot.

There was this couple sitting across the aisle from me, he couldn’t stop talking.  The conversation was interesting and rarely was he quiet.  The train made several stops to gather more people.  And then another couple joined them, now he never shuts up.  Ever.  Learned a lot about him and his family!!  He did however, come to my rescue!  As we all were getting off the train, the door started to close on me and he jumped in to save me!  Whew!  I can see the headlines now, “Woman crushed in NY Amtrak train getting stuck in doors, she was beyond saving but the luggage she was dragging had not a scratch on it, bizarre details at 11″……

The girl at Triple A told me that when I get into NY to go upstairs to find out where to get my next train.  She cautioned me that it was a very busy and very hectic station.  She instilled fear in me.  Now, I’m quite confident in traveling alone, I’m a very independent person but she definitely put the fear in me.  And to top it off, she pointed out that I only had 30 minutes to do so.  Piece of cake!  I drag my suitcase, did I mention previously that it was overpacked?, out of the train, managed to survive the attack of the train door, found an elevator along with about 8 other people and their overpacked suitcases, go upstairs and I see Subway signs and Amtrak signs and New Jersey signs and screens with departure info all over the place!   I just twirled in a circle of confusion.  Standing not but 10 feet in front of me is a conductor, I show him my ticket and ask for direction.  I hit pay dirt baby!  Its his train he says, follow me.  So I did. And he takes off down the stairs, he flies faster than the train did!  Now, I’m  trying to get down the stairs with my freakin heavy suitcase one careful step at a time, while 750 people are coming up, two steps at a time!!!  And the conductor is GONE!  When I finally get to the bottom, the platform is deserted.  To make matters worse, there is a train on either side of me, hmmm which train do I choose???  Then I have flashes of movies.  Movies in NY subway stations where the bad guys appear shooting the confused girl standing all alone on the train platform.   Eventually I see another conductor 3 cars down the platform, I make a mad dash in his direction and ask about my train, lucked out again and boarded my train.

Many of my friends told me that the Amtrak “flies” through the countryside and cities.  I’m really expecting to only catch glimpses of the area as we sail through but it wasn’t like that at all.  At times we just stop, for whatever reason I do not know.  Then we heard that due to the recent storms that went up the east coast, many of the Amtrak lines were damaged and dangerous.  Tracks had to be avoided and for a while the train moved at a snail’s pace, really it did.  Squirrels were running faster than we were. 

I did hear one story though.  As we approached a turn to go over a bridge two young girls were sitting on the bridge dangling their feet over the edge, (gasping) the train applied its emergency brakes, they got up and ran just making it off the bridge inches before they were run over but managed to tell the engineers “sorry” as he went past.  What would their Mothers think??!! 

Again, the conductor punches holes in my ticket, and I ask him about the cafe car and get my directions.  Thankfully the train is equipped with electrical outlets at every seat.  I charge up my phone and laptop try to blog for awhile.

and my big fat heavy suitcase is sitting beside me, I’m snarling at it….

But i get to see beautiful scenery.

and cute little train stations.

Cute little outdoor markets.

It was a long day on the train but the destination was worth it!  I finally arrive and ask my new conductor friend to help me get that blasted suitcase off the train.  What happened next was exhilarating!  I see my girlfriends husband as soon as I get off the train, give him a big hug and he points in the direction of Kathy.   I took off running, well sort of a run since I was dragging that you-know-what with me, no not you Jeff, and I see Kathy!  I hear Jeff yelling something about he’ll take the luggage but I for some reason can’t let go.  But then I do.  And I run into Kathy’s arms!  A better movie scene.  Hugging and laughing and then I start crying!  I haven’t seen her in years, we’re guessing about 25ish.

We had so much to catch up on and little time to do it in.  I think another trip could be in the making.

More trip stories later, and pictures!



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