June 2018 Journeys: Back on the Rails

by Kev

June 2018 Travel Plans

Exciting news

I have exciting news from my family; my sister is expecting her first baby. This news means that Abby will have a human sister! My mother cannot wait to take on her long-awaited title of grandma.

To assist my sister, my mother is spending the summer with her and her family in South Carolina. They are both excited about this extended bonding session, and I am sure that my sister can use the extra help.

June travel plans to get out there

My mother does not like to travel alone, so I am taking her out there. We will be touring together by train, but I am coming back solo.

I am taking a different route each way for a couple of reasons. I have repeated this trip several times and wanted a change the way I came back. The two middle trains are ones that I have never been on before.  Finally, there are new sites to explore, and I am excited about that.

These photos are of my mother from her last journey out there. 1) Us at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, PA 2) With Abby at her home 3) In front of Washington (D.C.) Union Station 4) Post Office Museum

Here is my current plan to get back on the rail to Charleston, SC

  • Hiawatha: (Runs from Milwaukee to Chicago) I have been on this train more than any other Amtrak train. This train will take us to Chicago from Sturtevant, WI. This train only has coach seating, so I guess we are going, coach.
  • Capitol Limited: (Runs from Chicago to Washington D.C.) This train is the only long-distance train that I have been on every year since 2014. We will share a roomette on this train.
  • Silver Meteor: (Runs from New York Penn to Miami, FL) After several hours in D.C., we will climb aboard our sleeping car and find our roomette on this train. This train will take us to Charleston, SC.

Travel Note on this leg of the trip

This trip is not my mom’s first time taking this trip, but usually, my dad comes along. She is familiar with the route, so she appreciates this one over others. When it comes to travel, change is not her friend. I think I get my sense of adventure more from my dad.

One of my favorite parts of taking the Capitol Limited to transfer on to the Silver Meteor is the layover in Washington D.C. It’s a nice break in the adventure. Plus, Amtrak’s Washington Union Station is right downtown, within walking distance of so many places including the Capitol Building, Post Office Museum, and so much more. There are a few “hop on hop off” bus tours that leave from there.

The beautiful thing about train travel, unlike flying, it’s easier to explore the city of your layover. Often the stations are downtown areas, and you can leave and come back without having to deal with the TSA lines as you do at an airport.

Views from the Capitol Limited Observation Car

My return solo trip:

  • Silver Meteor: (same cities as before) This time I’ll be in coach, to save some money. Instead of getting off in D.C, like usual or even in Philadelphia as I have done before, I will be going all the way to New York, NY. I have never been on this train past Philadelphia.
  • Self-transfer: (New York Penn to Grand Central Station) I have never had to do this before. The Meteor will arrive into NY Penn, but the next train departs from Grand Central Station. This self-transfer is a temporary move while Amtrak upgrades the tracks at NY Penn Stations.
  • Ethen Allen Express: (New York to Rutland, VT) Typically I would be taking the #49 Lake Shore Limited from New York Penn, and then the Limited would combine with train #449 out of Boston. Because of the work happening at New York Penn Station, they discontinued that section of the #49 Limited trip. So this regional train will be taking the place of that portion of the route. I may upgrade to business class with one of my free upgrade coupons I got this year.
  • Lake Shore Limited: (For the summer Boston, MA to Chicago, usually this train starts in Boston and New York and join/split in Albany, NY) This is one of the few long-distance trains I have not been on, yet. I will be in business class on this train; I would rather have a room, but saving money right now.
  • Hiawatha: Well, I already covered this.

I am looking forward to this trip, and it will be fun to see Abby again, oh and her folks. It may be a challenge traveling with my mother who as I said is not a traveler, but it will be good for us. Usually, she and my dad are travel buddies on these trips.

Speaking of my dad, I will return out there with him in September. There are a few more details we are working out for that trip. We have the tickets to go out there, but not coming back. There are determining factors that are not settled yet as to when we are coming home and who is coming. My dad and I could be bringing my mom back with us, or I may retrieve her at a later time.

The Silver Meteor is getting ready to take off from Philadelphia.

Rant

I am not looking forward to the decision of Amtrak’s CEO, Richard Anderson, to downgrade the food offerings on the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited. He has been a massive disappointment to most of the Amtrak fans. He is replacing the dining car staff with a single staff member with refrigerated meals in boxes on those two trains.

I hope that you have a trip coming up, by train, plane, or whatever method of travel. Feel free to reach out.

Safe Travels,

Kev

If you want to travel on Amtrak, start by checking out my page on traveling on Amtrak.

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