Sept 9-10, 2006

The journey to Disney World

Its 8 am and I entered my local subway stop on my way to NY's Penn Station.
The Amtrak train I am leaving on doesn't leave till after 11, but its best
to be early, and since I am paying for a sleeper upgrade, I can hang out in
the Club Acela room while I wait. They have complimentary beverages and

I made it to Penn Station in plenty of time,
9 am for a 11:08 departure, so
I powered up my laptop, found they have free wifi, sent out some emails
while waiting. Also started to watch The Warriors on DVD.

One thing that startled me a little, NYPD entered the room and I thought
they were going to inspect peoples luggage, but just wanted to make sure all
the luggage people had, had their name on it, and if not, they had luggage
tags to give them. Not only did mine have my name and address on the piece
itself, but also the tag that Disney supplies.

The announced what track to go to a little before 11, but didn't say go to
east or west entrance. So I followed everyone to the west gate, where we
all stood waiting. Meanwhile I notice that the east gate is manned and no
one is over there, so I walk over, and after a quick ticket check, I was on
the way down the escalator for the waiting train.

Again, like on my last trip, I had room number 1. I guess because I booked
so early. I get the first room. The porter for the car starts to tell me
how and where things are, but I told him I rode this before, so I know
everything about the roomette. I just ask what time do they serve lunch.
Told me about

I prepared my journey by getting a route map from Amtrak's website. Then by
inputting each strop along the way, and knowing the train number I am on, I
was able to construct a time table for my trip. I mark down the times, and
notice we pretty much run on schedule throughout my trip down to

Just like last time, I got a roomette sleeper room. My two pieces of
luggage are with me in the room, one chair has my big piece and the backpack
sits on top of the covered bowl, when I am not using it.

Since it is close to lunch when I boarded, I don't start setting up my
laptop or DVD player till after lunch.

I have lunch while passing through
Philadelphia. I know I am here when I
see the hot air balloon by their zoo which is right next to the station. I
have the usual Cheeseburger with potato chips, diet Pepsi (they don't serve
coke J ). And for dessert, they have what they call a 'mud pie', which is
chocolate cake with some whip cream on it. Since this is a moving train
that hits bumps, they don't have any deep oil fryers, so no French fries are
offered, nor
anything that requires any deep frying.

The person who boards at Philly and is assigned the room opposite me, tells
me her son who lives in
Orlando, paid for her train trip down. She looks
over the room, and simply says, what a rip-off.

I now setup my laptop, and DVD player. I finish watching the warriors on my
laptop. Send some more emails just using my cell phone. For those who read
them, you have to excuse the typos, I have this little keyboard accessory
for the cell phone which allows me to type words reasonably fast. But only
3 or 4 words appear on the cell phone display at one time, and I am
concentrating on pressing the right keys, which most of the time I did, but
sometimes typos crept through, which I didn't notice or take the time to
correct if I did.

The gps for the laptop works intermittently, but it shows me what I already
knew from my last trip, we are hitting speeds of slightly over 100 mph with
electric powered locomotive before we hit
Washington DC where we will switch
over to diesel power for remainder of trip. The tracks north of
are in better condition, there are no single track sections, like in the
deep south, and I think electric power locomotives have more power over
their diesel cousins. Also the tracks in the south are at ground level,
with crossing gates, so all those factors mean most of the trip, we will be
lucky doing 60 to 70 mph, most of the time 30 to 40.

In the smaller stations, passengers must disembark and board the train fast,
as the most time we stay still in some stations is 3 minutes. In Washington
however, we will be sitting there for about 20 minutes while the electric
locomotive disconnects from our train, moves away and allows a diesel
locomotive to attach and connect to our train.

We pull into
Washington station at 2:35, a little early. Pulled out after 3
, right on schedule. On my last trip, I remember not seeing anything
that I could recognize This trip, I now see the top of the Capital,
Smithsonian, and
Washington and Jefferson Memorials. Don't know how I could
have missed the
Washington memorial last time as it is very easy to spot.

We left
Richmond about 5:30, we should have left at 5:17, but 10 minutes is
nothing, still have plenty of distance to cover and plenty of time to make
it up.

I had a
6:30 reservation for dinner in the dinning car. Last year, they
only took reservations for dinner, but this year, they also did it for lunch
too. Breakfast, I probably be the first one in. I had salad. I didn't
like any of the dressings they had available, so I mixed some of my own out
of mayo and ketchup. For the main entrée, I had the special, chicken fried
steak with mash potatoes and rice. For dessert, the mud pie again. I
remember last trip, they had better desserts then this.

According to my schedule, I am somewhere on or near the
Virginia, North
border. On the way back from dinner, met a mother traveling with
her daughter who couldn't believe the size of her roomette.
before she boarded this train, she was on another and had the family size
room. When the porter showed her this room, kept thinking this was a
mistake, and questioned everyone who passed her, she really thought she was
being cheated.

The porter asked me what time he should make up the upper bunk bed, told
him, don't worry, I will, not sure what time I will be going to bed.
South Park on my DVD player, and Alf on my laptop, depending on my

I used notepad on my laptop to type emails, then copy and paste to a web
mail form to send some updates via my laptop. I do this because I never know
when I will have a good signal or not. This sometimes means I will send two
emails saying the same thing, as I loose a signal after I sent it, but
before I get a acknowledgement.

9:15 and we just stopped in Raleigh, North Carolina. Like I thought, we
made up the lost time.

I made numerous attempts to get online for Saturday nights chat room on TMFL
website, actually was able to send a couple of messages before giving up and
going to sleep. Or at least laying down with all my electronics turned off
and just watch the country side go by.

Kind of a funny comment. I think I like to sleep with my head facing the
trains forward motion, but the way the beds are setup, you have to sleep
with your feet facing the front of the train. Thinking about it now, I
guess its kind of a safety think, if the train stops short, your feet can
take more stress without injury of hitting the wall then your head can.

Living in
New York City most of my life, I know you can pretty much get any
type of food you want, any time of the night. I notice as we travel through
lots of small town main streets, how quiet they are, no night life.

I fall asleep and wake up after
5 am. I guess I slept through the stop at
Savannah, Georgia and the next stop is Jacksonville, Florida. I don't know
how we are doing time wise, but breakfast isn't served till
6:30 am. I fall
back asleep and wake up again about
6:45, get dressed, pack up my
electronics and head to the dinner car.

I get into the dinner car just as we are pulling into
Jacksonville at 6:55,
so we are running very early, but the workers on the train are afraid to say
it, so as not to jinx as we still have several more hours to go. Had
breakfast with a nice gentleman who is under doctors orders not to fly and
this is the first time taking the train.

I should have mentioned this before. Even if there are tables available,
they will not sit a single at a table, but will invite one or two people to
sit with you. If you are a couple, if you are the first ones there, they
may let you sit across from each other, but more likely will ask you to sit
on one side of the table so they can sit others at the same table. Since I
take my backpack and place it next to me, I will only be sitting next to my

Breakfast is a simple egg dish mixed with cheese and sausage links served
with potatoes. No dessert is offered for breakfast. They did offer some
pieces of fruit first, but I declined it.

As the sun was coming up, I notice it is starting to rain. But off in the
distance, I can see the sky is clearing, so hopefully it isn't once I arrive
Orlando. Pretty soon, I see a site that this New Yorker hardly sees, a
rainbow J

The stop before
Orlando is Winter Park, so once we are pulling out of there,
it is about 15 to 20 minutes to
Orlando. I pack up and am ready to leave.
Last trip, right before entering
Orlando station, we pass by what I found
out was
Church St station. If you are not familiar with this, it is not a
working train station, but a retail night life kind of place. Some people
told me it's very seedy, so don't go there. When we pass it, we pass a old
steam engine passenger train, so this trip, I am ready with camera to take
photos of it. But we pass it so fast without any warning, I don't get any
decent photos of it. Oh well, maybe on the return trip.

I get off at
Orlando and start walking towards the parking lot to look for
my ride to Pop Century hotel. I reserved Bob from Sunray to get me from the
train station to
Orlando. Amtrak had us coming in a little late, while we
actually made it in a little early, so Bob was just pulling in and we
recognized each other from last year.

Since the 9/11 anniversary was tomorrow, we chatted and told me that this
time of year, he does a couple more pickups then normally would. He also
shows me the welcome to Disney world signs on the highway and tells me some
people ask him to pull over so they can photograph the sign. He politely
tells them, this is a major highway and he can't.

People have asked me, why travel by train, so let me give you my reasons. I
like model and real trains. I carry allot of electronics with me (Walking
Radio Shack Terrie? J ) which includes a semi large rechargeable battery I
take with me to the theme parks to help power my camcorder. I don't think I
could board a plane anymore with this. So this just makes boarding a plane a
hassle. Did I mention I like trains? J I am sure if you looked at my
photos, you see lots of things that looks boring to you, but not to me J

20 minutes later, I am checking into Pop Century. I love the sign on the way
in that asks 'are we there yet?' yep, I think I am J