2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 /
Because yours truly will be riding the Lake Shore Limited this coming weekend, my mind is on Amtrak in general and taking the train to New York City in particular.
There are several trains that go between Utica and New York City. The most famous is the Lake Shore, which originates in Chicago and is an overnight train. Overnight trains have sleeping compartments that come in three sizes: small, smaller and smallest.
That being said, I still sleep better in a train compartment than I do in my own bed. I think it has something to do with the trainís gentle rocking motion and the click click sounds of riding on tracks. Or maybe it has something to do with going to the club car before going to bed.
Alas, this upcoming trip to New York City isnít long enough for a sleeping compartment and will be spent in a coach seat. At least those coach seats are bigger and more comfortable than airline seats.
There are advantages to train travel versus going by air. Time, of course, isnít one of them. The train trip between Utica and New York City is about five hours. You can drive to the city faster than that.
Driving isnít as relaxing, though. If you are the driver, it isnít relaxing at all, especially when you get into New York City, where it costs more than the price of a train ticket to park a car, assuming you can find an open lot.
Unlike airplanes, there are electrical outlets for every row of train seats and you can use your cell phone whenever you want, not just when the flight attendant gives permission.
Then thereís the food. You have to pay for it, but dining car food is good, not that expensive and more filling than a bag of peanuts.
Speaking of train food, the steaks are always a good choice and Iíve never had a bad breakfast. This is thanks to cooks such as ďWild BillĒ Farrow, who once worked in the Lake Shore Limitedís tiny kitchen, cooking and singing as the car rocked and rolled between Chicago and New York City and back again. His stories, some of which were probably even true, were as good as his cooking.
On the way to New York City this coming weekend, I will try to sit on the right side of the train because I enjoy watching the Hudson River. There is also a view of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to be seen. On the way back from the city I will sit on the left side of the train for the same reasons.
Amtrak once arrived at Grand Central. Amtrak trains now use Penn Station. Grand Central, which is a great name for a train station, was built in 1913 and, unlike Penn Station, is beautiful and historic. I always look up at the stars on the ceiling. I donít care if it does make me look like a tourist.
Train stations range from beautiful, such as the ones in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, to train stations that look more like bus stations, which is the case in too many places. Two other beautiful train stations are in Los Angeles and San Antonio. Ranking right up there with those stations is Uticaís Union Station, which, just like D.C.ís station, once came close to being demolished.
Not to brag, but over the years I have ridden every Amtrak train in the United States. Several of the routes Iíve been on more than once. Amtrakís California Zephyr - Chicago to San Francisco - is my favorite train.
But the Lake Shore into New York City isnít bad. Not bad at all.