Hi Website and my blog readers,
Greetings from my new home in South Bend, Indiana!
This was never my intention to be dormant for 8 months. It just ended up this way as I had perhaps some of my busiest 8 months of my life finishing graduate school, leaving New York again to start my first real full-time job. At the moment I’m now two weeks into my new life as a smaller-city transit bus planner for the Interurban Trolley in Elkhart Indiana, living in South Bend Indiana. I finally have time for this website again and look forward to catching up on my backlog of content from finishing (most of, seeing a couple holes I didn’t have a chance to revisit) Metro-North to writing sections for other transit systems across the country that I’ve been meaning to upload. I hope to also bring the core of my website – the New York City Subway System – up to the level I envision for it. Finally, although on a few trips to Chicago I got bare-bones photo essays of every station on the Chicago ‘L,’ and some from Metra I look forward to getting as great content of the train stations (Metra by bicycle I’m thinking) of the Midwest like I have for the New York Tri-State area and of the transit systems of California and the Pacific Northwest from my long trips out to those places.
I did take the Lake Shore Limited out two weeks ago (while still finishing my final big studio project, ended up missing graduation) to move with 3 suitcases, for which Amtrak did charge me $20. This was unlike my move back from College in Colorado to New York when 3 suitcase were still free. I had originally booked coach for $81 but Roomette upgrade fees dropped from their normally obscene $477 rate that I would never pay to a reasonable $205 (plus the coach fare had to rise from saver to value level of $92) so I upgraded, and was happy to arrive in South Bend well-rested.
I’m much more interested in getting back to regular content and spent nearly the entire trip in my room working on finishing my studio project, so I’m not going to write up one of my long minute-by-minute photo essay. I will share some highlights.
Penn Station was easy; my brother helped me take my three suitcases down on the subway. Running early enough with the goal of a walk Two were at exactly fifty pounds. One weighed in at 55, I took a box out of it that I carried onboard. I then went and stored my luggage in the ClubAcela, took a walk. Returned early than I might because of rain and to get work done. Then I was ushered to nearby track 6 for First class pre-boarding where I settled into Car 4911, Room 006 on the Right Side of the train where I had a nice view of cliffs instead of the Hudson. That was my only frustration with the lottery of train configurations and Rommette allocations.
In Albany I took my only fresh air stop of the trip, didn’t feel like getting off in Toledo or Syracuse even though I was still awake. There the construction has made the station very strange indeed. There are now four tracks through the station, with a brand new track now in on the opposite side of what used to be track A. Unfortunately as the extended high-level platforms wait to be poured the middle two tracks currently end midway through the station, meaning only two of the tracks have direct access to the yard. At this point I also see clearly why Lake Shore Limited Boston customers have to take a stub-train and don’t get through service.
During the night I slept reasonably well but did wake up in Erie, Pennsylvania with photo proof.
I also woke-up again through the lights of Cleveland, and then enjoyed the only redeeming quality of my room, dawn over Lake Erie near Sandusky Bay.
I even skipped the fresh air stop in Toledo going straight to breakfast dining with a woman who had some sort of inner ear problem and was told by her doctor to never fly again. She was Canadian living in Vancouver, traveling alone, and her and her husband had gone to England for a month sailing on cruise ships both ways. On their way to the East Coast they took the Canadian and said the new Prestige class was well worth it (she was one of those people who didn’t sound pretentious but clearly had plenty of money). Her first question to me was how high the Empire Builder gets to through the Sierras because she knows how to handle some amount of altitude (staying up all night drinking water) but has never done this trans-continental route. I explained what I knew. The Coast Starlight she was familiar with and knew how to handle its elevation changes in Southern Oregon and Northern California by staying up all night going to visit her grandchildren in San Diego. At the end of the meal I found out that she was trying to get across the content as quickly as possible because her husband had a health emergency after flying back to Vancouver for a week to get some work down and that their original plan was him flying back the following weekend back and a Prestige trip back on the Canadian. It was definitely one of my more memorable breakfast conversations on Amtrak.
We got to South Bend at 9:43, 42 minutes late. I watched by baggage offloaded from the baggage car after getting off my Viewliner in the front of the train, and walked down the platform to the station (passed the abandoned South Shore Line track) as the baggage cart drove up. The one taxi driver at the station helped me with my luggage into his van (with a $2 fee for help with luggage, a new taxi fee for me) and drove me off to my two-month sublease as I get on my feet and find a permanent home (something I really need to start on now that it’s two weeks later and got get back engrossed in my website!).