Fall Railroad Adventure

Sometimes it can take hours to get my entries composed as I have to type left handed. It is a small price to pay…..


Wednesday morning 5:46. Parked in New Orleans in the private RR Car. So many adventures to get caught up on. Let me start with the beginning of the trip.

Sunday November 25, 2018, 9:30 pm. Lots of stories to tell of the latest train adventure. Let me start to my departure on Thanksgiving Day:

After my coffee and sticky bun the house got straightened up as best as possible. Holly was a “smush” which resulted in her getting extra hugs and kisses on the bed.

Finally at 7:15 it was time to head out. First drove out Bryant to get cheap gas at the BP station. From there I hit Mc Farland Blvd and picked up 20/59 from that. This is my first time entering from the configured lanes. I found it kind of confusing but there was very little traffic out.

Once the road opened up past the Tuscaloosa construction things really got rolling. The traffic was nearly non-existent. It was smooth sailing all the way to Knoxville, TN where things got a bit congested.

All in all it was a non-eventful drive which suited me fine. I checked into my Travel Lodge at Wytheville, VA just around 4:30 p.m. My Thanksgiving supper was cheese and crackers for the appetizer. Then I broke out the Aldis “Mexican Chicken” salad for the main course. Almond toffee cookies and some almond dark chocolate was my desert. This was washed down with some white Winking Owl wine! What a feast!!

I had my Thanksgiving with Em and my extended family earlier in the week. This Thursday was just another day to me.

Friday had a bagel, coffee, and juice at the breakfast set up. The motel clerk was trying so hard to explain directions to this man. This interchange of I-81 is confusing because if you want to access I-77 north you have to take I-81 south. By the same token if you want I-77 south you have to access it from I-81 north. That made no sense to this poor man.

Got on the road by 7:45 and just took my time driving. Traffic was up a bit today but still not horrible on the interstates. Have no idea what it must have been like around the shopping centers and the like. So grateful I don’t have to worry about shopping for presents and the like anymore.

It was about 10:30 I pulled off at “The Factory” antique mall. This place is huge. I’ve been stopping here for nearly 20 years now. It is jam packed with Phalsgraph china along with green and red glass from the 1970’s. There are a few genuine antiques floating around but they are few and far between. I was amazed at the number of people actually buying stuff. It was to the extent they were actually using shopping carts and hand baskets to carry their purchases. Thanks to my viewing of “Hoarders Buried Alive” my desire to buy anything more has been pretty well stifled.

It was a straight shot through to Steve’s in Elizabethtown, PA. Arrived just about 4:00. Got settled in when Dennis and Nancy arrived. This couple have been very supportive to Steve and as a “Thank You” he invited them to join in the RR Car trip.

Steve drove us all to supper in his “Giant Truck”. Steve chose his “fall back” restaurant. A family owned business which when we arrived was hosting a family gathering was going on in one of the banquet rooms. It sounded like a good time was being enjoyed by all. This place offered very good “country cooking” in a typical Pennsylvania fashion. Steve warned me in advance on how fussy Dennis can be about his food. He was not exaggerating.

At 6:45 Saturday morning we all left Steve’s to walk to the Elizabethtown, PA Amtrak station to catch the train to New York City. It was a chilly walk but not impossible. The train was on time. It was like hearing old friends passing through all the cities on the main line that I used to load the UPS for back in 1972-73.

Approaching Lancaster I saw few landmarks from my time living there. It looks like Franklin and Marshall College is overtaking the city like UA has overwhelmed Tuscaloosa. The area north of the tracks where Stouffers Diner used to be is all cleared and ready for development.

A few weeks back I did a search on Google Streets to check up on some of my old haunts. My apartment building from 1971-72 was quite run down when I lived there with two other guys. All the drainpipes were lead and hardly drained under good circumstances. The building is being all rehabbed now into luxury condos. The exterior was beautiful even back then. There was a greasy spoon called “the Famous Cottage” on the ground floor. I can still see the cook at the grill with a cigarette just hanging out of his lips and an occasional bug crawling up the wall.

This was a first “real train ride” for Dennis and Nancy. Nancy is a very personable and really got on with the conductor. She got to talking about the “Polar Express”. This conductor punched Nancy and Dennis each out a ticket with “BELIVE”. He took it easy and gave Steve and I a ticket with a smiley face. I’m totally unfamiliar with the movie so I went with the flow.

Nancy’s ticket punched out with the conductors special punch. Each conductor has his own special design punch:


It was a smooth ride into Pennsylvania Station. The Acella Lounge is buried away in a far corner. It took a bit to find this place. We were able to find a corner that fit us all. There was complimentary coffee and some juice available. Any pastries or special snacks were long gone.

Rich and Ian easily found us. We were only having snacks on the car so some kind of lunch was called for. I did not really want to venture out into the city. I have no idea what is available around this area any more. Penn Station has a food court of sorts. I was able to get a decent roast beef.

Steve lined up a Redcap named “Jessie” to cart our bags to the train. I asked if Jessie was going to be bringing his girl. Rich and Ian go the joke immediately. Jessie did show up at 1:30 to take us to the car, which was at the gate. He had to get the escalator reversed to get us down early.

A curt conductor demanded where we thought we were going. Steve explained we were enroute to the private car at the back and we had the proper documentation. This conductor was all set to give us a hard time when Jessie spoke up where we were going and to let us through.

Jessie loading our bags:
We could not ride on the platform on this leg of the run as the speed was too great. I saw it hit 107 mph at one point. Heading out of Pennsylvania Station:


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December 5, 2018

Sounds like fun!