Amtrak Adventure

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Amtrak Adventure

Postby Daryl » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:13 pm

Hi folks. I recently discovered Amtrak, the amazing American train system. I knew about it before but never really visited its website or considered it too seriously. Then I discovered its route map. Wow.

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/Maps/Amtrak-System-Map-1018.pdf

So, I can start from Toronto (one of three points where Amtrak enters Canada) and easily hit Boston or NYC in one shot. From there I can travel up and down, all the way down to Florida (where I have a friend I want to visit for a couple of days).

I think that would be a good way to get familiar with Amtrak, before trying a more westward excursion. The only problem for me is that making a bunch of short stops means not sleeping on the train, which adds up the expenses. If I count on sleeping on the train I will get most of the trip over without stopping anywhere. The cost of the train, even a bedroom, is not an issue, but a lot of tiny hotel stops could make it prohibitive, so I need to be picky. I would definitely want to stop at a few big centres and at least take a few pics before moving on, and a few smaller spots too, just to sample a few diners along the way. I've never been to Boston. I've been to Manhattan several times, but I also have a friend there so it will probably get a visit from me too. Philly and Basltimore might be likely targets, and maybe some others between there and West Palm Beach FL.

AND SO....

Who lives along that eastern train corridor and wants to buy me a cheesesteak sandwich or something, if they get a chance? :D

No point in my being coy, is there?

Recommendations for B&Bs and cheap hotels are always welcome too.

I'm thinking of bringing my electric bike, since Amtrak encourages that, but I'm not sure how useful it would be, and could easily become just a burden if I don't use it.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Jim » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:16 pm

I'm only about 15 minutes from an Amtrak station, but more than an hour west of Chicago. Give me a message if you are heading this way.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Charlie » Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:26 pm

Going slightly off-off-topic :? , last year the wife and I traveled from Chicago to San Francisco on the Californian Zephyr (we were also due to travel from NY to Chicago by train but there was a freight derailment and sadly we had to fly instead). We had a great time; it was very relaxing and I wore either a denim skirt or a denim kilt with no reaction from our fellow passengers or the Amtrak staff.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby dillon » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:22 am

I’m in the Miami to Boston corridor, albeit an hour and a half drive from the station in Wilson, NC. Wouldn’t mind a train ride to New England for the fall colors. I don’t know how rail routes are now, but it used to be that you couldn’t go to hell without changing trains in Atlanta and Chicago.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby crfriend » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:47 am

dillon wrote:Wouldn’t mind a train ride to New England for the fall colors. I don’t know how rail routes are now, but it used to be that you couldn’t go to hell without changing trains in Atlanta and Chicago.

It used to be a joke that, "A pig can make it through Chicago without changing trains, but you can't!". That's still true, of course, but it's worth remembering what the likely fate of the hypothetical pig was.

For New England foliage, one would likely have to change trains in New York. Offhand -- and without direct experience -- I'd recommend either the route that passes through Vermont or the one that traces the Hudson for the best scenery. The eastern route along the Northeast Corridor terminates at Boston's South Station Terminal, and then one either gets to hoof it, fight with the MBTA, or get a cab to Boston's North Station Terminal for the train that heads north to Maine. The Vermont train traces the Connecticut River for quite a ways, and once out of New Haven can be quite scenic
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby FranTastic444 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:35 pm

For a significant birthday a few years back (when I was still UK based) we did Boston > NYC > DC by Acela with about 3 days in each city. Although the view as you approach the Manhattan skyline is cool, much of the route is through pretty average looking towns and countryside. You go over the occasional interesting wrought iron box railway bridge and at times you run parallel to the I-95 and you can see the marvels of modern road and bridge building and sometimes you get close enough to the coast to see river estuaries or other such features. On the whole though, I couldn't describe this part of the route as a "spectacular railway journey". I've pinged a note to a friend who met me in Montreal for the F1 a couple of years back. He got there by train from NYC - I'll get back to you with any feedback from him.

Boston is a great place to visit - well worth a couple of days stop-off. As you point out though, hotel costs are going to mount up. My understanding is that Boston has a healthy stock of Air BnB rooms.

I'm currently in discussions with friends in the UK about coming to visit us. They wanted to see the New England Fall but, as I pointed out to them, the vibrant colors that you see on photos are often due to digital filters and / or a bit of PhotoShopping (turning the contrast up to 11). The fall colors are very dependent upon weather conditions being just right and In the 5 years that we have been here I'd say that only 1 year was truly spectacular. A couple of years back we were back in the UK in the middle of leaf peepin' season and what we saw in England was actually better than our location back in the US.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Sinned » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:28 pm

Yes, spring, summer and autumn can be quite spectacular as regards foliage. Spring the trees suddenly become green and the floral display is ethereal for a short while, Autumn brings a wide range of browns and oranges although the leaf fall can be a bit messy during wet weather. We're lucky, I guess.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Kirbstone » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:58 pm

Between NY State & Vermont there is a long N/S skinny lake called Champlain. The railway North to Montreal passes along the Western shore of said lake and in late September 1967 I had occasion to travel it in fine sunny weather.
Looking East across the lake to the Vermont shore the colour scheme was blue-red-blue. It was my very first exposure to Stateside Autumn colours and such an unbroken swathe of Maple-leaf red I had never seen before.

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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Daryl » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:11 am

FranTastic444 wrote:I'm currently in discussions with friends in the UK about coming to visit us. They wanted to see the New England Fall but, as I pointed out to them, the vibrant colors that you see on photos are often due to digital filters and / or a bit of PhotoShopping (turning the contrast up to 11). The fall colors are very dependent upon weather conditions being just right and In the 5 years that we have been here I'd say that only 1 year was truly spectacular. A couple of years back we were back in the UK in the middle of leaf peepin' season and what we saw in England was actually better than our location back in the US.


Up here in southern Ontario it's almost offensive when the autumn colour display isn't spectacular. Lately we've blamed in on global warming. (hey, it's either that or Trudeau) Yes it's true that those photos are often enhanced, but sometimes that enhancement actually leaves a truer impression. I have often taken the colours for granted in the bright daylight only to have my breath taken away at an evening scene when the sun is low, especially if the sky is dark with clouds in the background. The street we lived on a few years ago had a variety of trees planted when the neighbourhood was built in the 1950s. Autumns there are usually spectacular displays of vivid yellows, greens, magentas and deep reds. On bad years those colours appear too slowly and last for too-short a period, leaving autumn more brown than anything else, but those years are exceptions.

The UK is on a good latitude for it too. The cycle is timed by the hours of daylight. The further south you go the less dramatic the seasonal variation, to the point that the local species don't react the same way. Temperature is a factor in that it can terminate the colour display by getting too cold too early, essentially giving the leaves frostbite and killing them before their colours really develop, at which point they just begin to rot on the branch. I would expect the Gulf Stream to keep early frosts from doing that very often in large parts of the UK.
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Daryl » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:16 am

Charlie wrote:Going slightly off-off-topic :? , last year the wife and I traveled from Chicago to San Francisco on the Californian Zephyr (we were also due to travel from NY to Chicago by train but there was a freight derailment and sadly we had to fly instead). We had a great time; it was very relaxing and I wore either a denim skirt or a denim kilt with no reaction from our fellow passengers or the Amtrak staff.
Charlie


That is an inspiring report. I've long wanted to visit the west coast of the US, and I see this first Amtrak adventure (which will not include the wife, most probably) as me testing the water before a longer trip like that. I already know what skirts I will wear for walking along the beaches...
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Re: Amtrak Adventure

Postby Daryl » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:18 am

Jim wrote:I'm only about 15 minutes from an Amtrak station, but more than an hour west of Chicago. Give me a message if you are heading this way.


If I post about a westward trip, and you notice it, please remind me!
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