5:30 alarm. Woke up from a half sleep on the floor of our son’s home office. Squeaky air mattress, whirring minds and a lingering haunter’s cough kept at least one of us up part of the night. It’s time to leave because yes, we have a train to catch. Rushed to get dressed and out the door; we’d have breathed easier if the alarm had been set for 15 minutes earlier. But 5:15 am sounded ridiculous when you’re adjusting from the late nights of haunt life.
We couldn’t exit without a hiccup, not if you are a Goza-Go-Getter. So we promptly spilled water all over the floor as we were setting off, not just a cupful but more like half a gallon. And we both overdressed for the quick-paced 1.2 mile walk to the station, thinking it was going to be quite chilly. It is late November and the sun isn’t up yet, after all. Still handled it all in stride (see what I did there?) and managed to schlep into the station with minutes to spare.
We are hauling a few extra bags to get us through the first leg of the journey. We are expecting some cooler weather than what we’re anticipating for the rest of the trip. And we felt obliged to bring two bags of food from our kitchen rather than letting it go to waste. The rest of the pantry and food from the fridge and freezer found a home with our son Zephyr and daughter-by-osmosis Kiaya and her family.
Life Aboard Amtrak 95 Northeast Providence to Washington D.C.
We boarded the train at 6:50 am. During the ride we both took short snoozes and walked the length of the train for exercise. We also got a text from Kiaya. She and her mother Jeanne were having trouble with the key to one of the compartments on the RV up in New Hampshire (The one that protects the sewage from who knows what?) and needed our help. All we could do was offer words of encouragement. Luckily a couple of jiggles and persistence solved the problem.
In our defense, we had set out to dump the tanks at the local Waste Management Station the day before, not wanting to leave the caretakers with the burden of eliminating our waste and prepping the tanks for surviving freezing weather. However, the fact that it was Veterans Day and all city offices would be closed eluded us all in our mad scramble to get the RV cleared out. Thus we were forced to run off without having completed that crucial mission. And yet another reason we are grateful for trustworthy friends who are going out of their way to support us as we reach for the stars.
Arrived in NYC at the scheduled time. Most of the other passengers exited en masse. Seems New York City is a popular destination. Our train was crowded and seating was unassigned. So once it cleared out, we decided to try life on the port side of the train, “upgrading” to a real window. The new passengers got on and got settled; then the “captain”, or whatever he’s called, announced a technical difficulty that mechanical is working on. Didn’t take too long, just long enough to make us wonder what we are going to do if we don’t make our next connection in Washington D.C.
12:00 noon. Rumbling through New Jersey, next stop Philadelphia. We changed crews in NYC and noticed a dramatic shift in the delivery of the announcements. The crew from New York is more no-nonsense whereas the New England crew was a bit more diplomatic. Just an observation. We are on a fully booked train.
Today we are feeling thankful we made the choice to begin our RV-less journey while still on familiar turf. It gives us a chance to learn the ins and outs of navigation and transit while still being able to fully comprehend the language. Also, smart choice to have booked these tickets well in advance, considering the holiday travel season has begun. Of note, we are required to wear masks the entire 16 hours of the trip.
1:30 pm Running a half hour late. Preparing to scramble to make our next connection rather than take the time to stretch in D.C.
2:30 pm New Carrollton station in Maryland, still a half hour behind schedule. Even though the golden trees along the route are mesmerizing, it’s hard not to stress about making the upcoming connection. But not anything we can do at the moment.
2:58 pm We have arrived in Washington D.C. and our next train is scheduled to leave at 3:05. Now to figure out where to go and what to do. Somehow it seems everyone else already knows exactly what to do. This traveling stuff is confusing, even in our native language. Finally see the tiny board listing the gates and train times. Phew! Our next train is also behind schedule. We have enough time to wipe the sweat off our brow, buy a bottle of water (not a single drinking fountain in sight), adjust some straps and get back on a train.
Life Aboard Amtrak 91 Silver Star
3:24 pm Settling in to our assigned seats…with LEG ROOM!!!! It’s the little things that make life enjoyable.
7:19 pm the Silver Star comes to a gentle but screeching halt at the South end of Emporia, VA. Can this day get any longer? There’s a good reason we booked the train a couple of days ahead of a paid gig. We hate taking any unnecessary chances.
7:24 pm comes the announcement: “the train hit a vehicle on the tracks”. Now we wait. No one is allowed to leave the train. 4 of the passengers on our train were also on the train that hit an Amazon van the other day. Our minds are racing. How are we going to get to our destination? Will be stuck on a train going nowhere for 4 hours or more? Another announcement followed to let us know: “the car was removed from the track; they will inspect the brakes and assuming they pass inspection we should be good to go.” We are 3 hours from our destination. We are grateful the passengers in our car are all in a good mood. At moments like this, you just got to laugh and roll with the punches.
8:11 chugga chugga choo choo. We are rolling again.
12:37 pm We have arrived in Hamlet, NC and appear to be the only ones disembarking in this sleepy town. (To be fair, most towns are asleep at this hour). After spending the past 18 hours sitting on a train we are ready to hit the hay. But first we have to hoof it to our AirBnB, about half a mile away.
1:20 am We just saw a meteor as we were walking the half mile from the train station to the brick house serving as our AirBnB for the night. The most amazing meteor either one of us has ever seen in our lives. We both stopped in our tracks and stood in awe. To think we’d have never seen it if our train had been on time and all went according to plan. Yes, we’ll take that as an omen for good. Thank you Universe!