The day arrives.


My alarm goes off about 5:30 am.  I am too nervous to eat much.  I just have a bagel before shave and showering.  I check out my last minute emails, and pack up my laptop for the journey.


7:50, I head downstairs to meet my mother who helps see me off to Penn Station.  I take the obligatory photo of my luggage and backpack.  I am lucky I don’t fly, because my luggage is way too heavy for them.  It’s hard enough to get them onto the elevated train station where I live.  But compared to what I carry for work daily, this isn’t that much heavier.


My parents are meeting me down their, they are flying tomorrow morning.


No train problems for my first leg of my journey, I arrive at Penn Station at 9 am.  I wait in the Acela Lounge since I am in a first class sleeper car and enjoy the amenities there.


They have the usual juice and soda available, but no snacks. I also take advantage of the free wi-fi internet while I wait the two hours for my train.  I like to get there early, just feel better about it.


A little before 10 am, they announce the 10 am Acela to Washington is now boarding, and the lounge just about empties out.  First class passengers are supposed to get an earlier announcement then other passengers.  Just one of the benefits of traveling 1st class on Amtrak.  But there are still no cinnamon buns or other snacks.


Another tradition of I seem to have, I watch the Warriors on DVD in the lounge.  I can almost quote the movie line by line.  It just makes the time go faster.  I have about ½ hour to go before boarding.  Train should leave Penn at 10:57.  I only had a little delay once during my Jan 09 trip. Due to the cold weather  the switches in the train yard by Sunnyside, Queens were frozen.  Hopefully my luck continues.


At about a quarter to 11, still no announcement about boarding gate yet.  I see the lounge worker is busy chatting with friends.  I take a look at the departure schedule and find they assigned a track number to my train.  I ask the lounge person about this, and she makes a disgusted gesture that someone should have called her to let her know.  I can just imagine if I didn’t look, me and the others waiting could have missed the train.  After I spoke to her, she makes the boarding gate announcement.


The locomotive is electric from Penn Station to Washington DC, and then we switch to a diesel for the rest of the trip to Orlando, where I depart.  The train continues onto its final destination, Miami.  When using electric power locomotive and with most of the right of way has no car crossing, we can attain speeds of over 100 mph.  With a diesel locomotive, it seems our top speed is about 70, mph, less when we have to worry about car crossings when we get into the more southern part of our route.



Let me take a step backwards at this point.  All the trains I have been on till now are configured like this.  Of course first comes the locomotive, then comes the baggage car, then the sleepers, dining car, and the Coach cars.  Not sure of what is after, if anything, cause I only walk from my car to the dining car.



Well it seems that Amtrak was getting complaints from sleeper room first class passengers about the train whistle, so they switched the train setup to place the sleepers last, at the back of the train.  Which people made comments saying this gives a little rougher ride, as there is no weight of the train behind the sleepers to keep it from bouncing.  This was warned to me before leaving.  Nothing I can really do.


Now back to my trip report.


I get on the escalator by the departure gate, which takes me down to the train platform and I am directed to the back of the train.  I find the sleeper car with my number and meet my sleeper car steward.  I am surprised when he calls me by name.  It seems I will be his only passenger for some of the trip down, the only person boarding at Penn.  I tell him I have taken this journey several times before and that I make up my own bed when I am ready to sleep.  He tells me where the bottled water is kept, to help myself.  He is pretty friendly person.  My sleeper car is the last car on the train and I look out the rear door and enjoy the site of where we were.


I feel the trains first movement right on our departure time.  We are on our way J  When the train leaves Penn, between 9th and 10th avenues, we are in a below ground cut with open air above us, so I see sunlight for the last time in Manhattan before hitting the trans-Hudson tunnel to New Jersey.


Before we hit Newark, I recognize a section of I280 between the NJ Turnpike and the Stickle Bridge.  When approaching the Stickle Bridge, we curve away from it.


While we are stopped at Newark Station, a New Jersey Transit train, on the same track as us, while waiting for us to leave, enters the station and gets a little close, well not real close, but it also starts having passengers enter and exit their train while waiting for us to leave.


Less then an hour after first entering New Jersey, we are at Trenton, last stop before leaving New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Philadelphia that is.


Its 12:40, we are in 30th st station in Philly, some more people entered the sleeper car here.. I ate lunch, Angus cheeseburger, chips, diet Pepsi, and for dessert, Oreo cake :)


1 PM, Wilmington Delaware.


1:30 pm in Maryland now, Elkton to be exact according to my gps60 ft about sea level, heading in a south western direction doing about 110 mph.


2 pm, Baltimore Maryland station, 3 hrs 6 minutes into my trip.


2:38 pm, Washington DC station.  We will be here for a bit while they switch locomotives.


3:20 pm Stopped in Alexandria Virginia now, mixed freight train right next to us.  Boxcars, tankers, grain.


3:40, just passed the Auto Train and the Juice train outside Lorton Virginia.  The Juice train for rail fans is a 30 or more boxcar train that just contains Tropicana Orange Juice that starts by the plant in Brandon, Florida and heads north to a terminal in New Jersey.  The auto train starting point is Lorton Virginia and  terminates in Sanford Florida.  It makes only one stop to switch train crews, or so I am told. I never took it myself.


5:30 Stopped at Richmond VA, about 10 minutes late I think.  Had dinner, There was a little mix-up in the times. They ask you want time you want to eat. I told them 5, they thought I said 5:45, no biggie, I sat down and ate anyway.  I had the dinning car to all to myself.
I had a salad; I had light Italian dressing on it.  On the table is a basket of different dressings, I couldn’t find any I really liked, so I took the light Italian.  For my main entrée I had the flat iron steak.  This seems to be different then when I had it in the past.  This seems to be a cook potted meat.  It was soft enough, you could cut it with a butter knife, It was ok, but I like my meat a little harder.  My baked potato was opposite, it was cooked, but like mine softer :) haha  I had the Oreo pie again for dessert.


One comment about my dining car.  This was way more comfortable then the older dining cars I have used in the past 

Going to lay down for a bit now.


6:48 pm, Just noticed, According to my GPS, I am in North Carolina now, Garysburg to be exact.


7:25 pm, stopped at Rocky Mount North Carolina, right on time, early even.  Its always too dark here to take a decent photo of, but there is some preserved railroad equipment in the station, a old passenger car.  I try my best to take a photo of it before we leave.


8:45 pm Raleigh NC, got here early, not due till 9:13.


11:11 arrived Hamlet NC, due to arrive 11:21, running 10 minutes fast.


When going on any trip, you know how there is one thing you are assured you packed, but have a doubt in the back of your mind?  Well this is my itch I couldnt scratch.  A week before leaving, I bought blank video tapes, placed them on my luggage.  But when I was checking my luggage before leaving.  I didn’t remember seeing it, did I pack it or forget it?  Well, I laid down my luggage to open it, and started to rummage through it, and my worst fear appeared to be true, I couldn’t find it.


What to do?? When I arrive at Orlando, I ordered Sunray car service to pick me up there, like in years past and drop me off at my resort.  Ask them to make a stop some type of store? I am entitled to a grocery stop, if I requested one.  I figure to purchase some blank tapes at Disney, I knew I would be paying more, but I just figured slightly more.


I fell asleep for about an hour or so.
Sorry, slept through
Camden :)
We are approaching
Columbia South Carolina, not sure how much further to the station, but the time is now 1:19 and we are due to arrive at 1:44.


I slept through most of South Carolina and GeorgiaIts now 7:15 am Sunday morning.  We left Jacksonville FL right on time.   I had breakfast already, my usually cheese omelet, Apple juice, shredded home fries, bacon, and a roll.


I asked about the difference in the dining car to the steward, and he told me this car was recently remodeled, which is a good thing.  All my other previous dining onboard felt a certain awkwardness to how the bench chairs and table setups.  I hope I get a similar car on my return trip.


I spoke to my parents, they are at the airport and through security already, about 3 hrs early.  They were concerned with getting there and worries about holiday weekend making things backup at the airport.


going to laydown now again.


9:06 am.  This is where anticipation really takes off.  We are leaving Deland.  Next comes Winterpark, then Orlando.


9:47 am, Winterpark, next comes…. You know what J  We are due to arrive at 10:20 at Orlando, but we are running early.  We will also crawl… or go very slow.  On the way, we will be passing Church Street Station, where there is a whole preserved passenger train.  I am also always trying to get a good photo of it.  This time too.  I can almost recognize the sites along the way, since I remember this part of the trip from previous trips.


10:12 AM……. 8 minutes early……23 hours, 15 minutes after leaving Penn

hel-lo Or-lan-do J

 I made it.