The Journey Starts

September 7-8, 2008


I wake up around 6, shave, shower, have a little breakfast, and close up my luggage. My backpack is very heavy, at least parents think so, who meet me and take the subway ride with me to Pennsylvania (Penn) Station in the city at 34th and 8th Ave.On my back, itís ok. Some weekends, the trains run weird, but not this weekend.Take the F train from Neptune Ave, transfer to A train at Jay St, then take that train to Penn Station.


8:15 am, waiting for F train.From my train station, I can see the top hill of the Cyclone rollercoaster in Coney Island.


I arrive at Penn Station at 9:10.Years previously when I had to exchange my tickets (remember, I was supposed to leave yesterday) for new ones, I waited in the line like everyone else.What I didnít know, I could also do it at the Acela Lounge, since I am traveling first class, which I did this time.With my tickets exchanged, I sat down and waited the less then two hours for the train.I had some soda and a cinnamon bun.The train should leave 10:50 am.The train is put together in Amtrakís Sunnyside Yard in Queens, travels under the East River in Manhattan to Penn Station.Sunnyside Yard dates back to Pennsylvania Railroad days, which this station, and even the hotel across the street (Pennsylvania 6-5000) are named after.


While waiting, I hear other people talking to the red caps about the canceled train yesterday.Everyone was pretty anxious about getting on this train.Yesterday, Amtrakís website indicated this train was full.That doesnít mean that everyone would board at Penn, but at one point or another, the train would be full.


At 10:24, they make an announcement, due to mechanical issues with the locomotive, there will be a delay.The redcap isnít too happy about this.He says something like due to the hurricane; they may not have extra equipment available.I just hope the delay isnít long.


At 10:39, problem resolved, train is leaving the yard heading towards Penn Station.


A couple of minutes before coach are notified, we first class people are told the gate and we get in line to go down the escalator.Some people rush to get into the line first, but with reserved seating, why rush?The train (I hope) wonít leave without us.


Now this I donít understand?Before getting on the escalator going down, you need to show your train ticket.Why people fumble for it the last moment, I donít understand, as I have my ticket ready for inspection.


When I get down to the train platform, I ask for train 91, and they point me to that train. I am in car 9110.There is a LED display on the train, but doesnít say 9110.They programmed the wrong number on it. I point that out to my car attendant and tells me, donít worry, this is the right train.It is times like this; I remember that Honeymooner episode that Ralph and Ed get on the wrong train.But this one is the right train.I keep my luggage with me on the train since I have the whole room to myself. I place the luggage on the other seat.Needless to say, I will be sleeping in the upper bunk.


At 11, I feel the train starting to move.We make it out to daylight, about 34 and 10th ave, and stop, to let an Acela go first.The room opposite mine is a young mother traveling with her daughter, maybe 4 or 5 years old.The car attendant introduces herself to both of us and discuss dinning options, we both decide to eat in our room, which was not a issue for her.Anyone who ever traveled about Amtrak, when eating in the dinning car, they will sit you with other people. I rather eat in my room, I can relax more. As the other times, I am in the right side again.


Barely 20 minutes after we first leave Penn Station, we are in Newark, NJ making a stop to pick up more passengers.The car attendant drops off menus for me and the mother in the opposite room.I see they changed the menu for the better. For lunch I will do the Angus cheeseburger with potato chips, no deep fryers on moving trains for fries.And they have ice cream for dessert, no mud pie.For dinner, they have Flat steak; breakfast will be a cheese omelet.All in all, a welcomed changes.


On previous trips, I used a mapping software with a GPS module connected to my laptop to show me where I am, and how fast I am going, This trip I took my Magellan GPS unit, which is a good thing, since I am having software issues on my laptop, and I didnít have enough time to get my new hard drive fully loaded in time for my trip.According to my GPS, we are traveling 105 mph, which is normal for service between New York and Washington DC.We are passing Hamilton train station. Itís about 11:53 am.What the GPS doesnít tell me, is what city I am in, so I can just guess by the names of points of interest near by.


12 pm, pulling into Trenton to pick up more passengers.It always amazed me how short of a time we stay in the station before we move out.The train can be late, but you canít.


12:30, we are in Philadelphia.I didnít look for the hot air balloon from the nearby zoo.I finished my lunch of Cheeseburger, chips and vanilla ice cream for dessert.Itís funny, when asking for soda, how many people just say coke? Well, on Amtrak, itís only Pepsi.By the end of the trip, I remember to ask for diet Pepsi, not coke. Or could I have used the old SNL line, Ďno coke, Pepsií ? ;)


1 pm, Wilmington Delaware.It does seem that we travel more north of Washington because the states are smaller.In the 2 hours since leaving New York, went through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and now in Delaware.Some states in the south, it will take hours to cross it.


1:50 pm, Baltimore, Maryland.There is this sign I always look for here, a sign pointing this way for Washington, or that way for New York.I hope the engineer knows the way J


2:27 pm, we are pulling into Washington DC for a extended stop, as they switch locomotives here, from a electric to a pair of diesel locomotives.While they switch locomotives, there is no power to the cars, no air conditioning or electricity to power my electronics, but my laptop batter is still good and I continue to watch DVDís on it.I like to watch comedies.I have South Park, Married with Children, and The Simpsons to help pass time.Plus the Celebrity roasts to William Shatner.


40 minutes later, we are leaving Washington DC station and on the way out of Washington, I see the top of the Capital, the Smithsonian, Washington monument and Jefferson memorial.


3:25 pm, we are pulling into Alexandria VA.In the not so far distance is the George Washington Masonic building.


5:30pm had dinner near Ashland, VA. I had a salad with a light ranch. 8 oz steak, mash potatoes, and mixed veggies.


5:40 pm Richmond VA I had chocolate Ice cream for dessert.


We left Rocky Mount, NC about 8:30 pm.According to the schedule they handed out, we should have left there about 7:30, so we are running an hour late.Next stop should be Raleigh, NC at 9:13, but will probably be closer to 10:13 pm.


We pulled into Raleigh, NC at 10:09 pm


Its 2:40 am and we just pulled into Columbia SC I feel asleep for a couple of hours. So there is a little gap of times here.


Slept a couple of more hours Its 7:35 am, and eating breakfast in Jacksonville FL.Sorry Georgia, I was asleep when we traveled through you. We are still running late, but less then an hour.


10:29 am, Monday morning.I am in Winterpark, FL.Next stop is Orlando, some 20 minutes away.


10:54 amÖ.. Hel-Lo†† Or-Lan-Do J24.5 hours late, but I made it finally.