Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Rail

octrainAmtrak has a simple but incredibly effective way of avoiding scenes like this at its station in Cincinnati. Eastbound trains are scheduled to depart at 3:27 AM; Westbound at 1:23 AM. That’s AM as in “ante meridian”, as in “before midday”, as in “middle of the night”, as in “dark as a black cat in a coal mine”. That would seem to be sufficient discouragement but, just to be on the safe side, Amtrak frequently misses those times by sizable amounts. On rare occassions, they might even cancel a train a day or two before departure as they did for me in 2011.

I made it this time though not exactly as planned. Between the time I left home and the time I reached the station, the Amtrak Cardinal had gone from 8 minutes late to 3 or 4 hours late. It finally pulled out of Union Terminal with me on board at 8:03 — a mere 4 hours and 36 minutes behind schedule. It was no longer dark. My plans for the evening are clearly demolished but I still have hopes for the rest of this trip to Washington, DC. A Saturday concert remains on the agenda followed by a couple of days roaming around the National Mall before heading back home on Wednesday.

The trip journal is here. This blog entry is to make blog-only followers aware of the trip and to provide a place for comments which are very welcome and appreciated.

3 thoughts on “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Rail

  1. For once, I do not envy you!!
    I landed at Regan in the middle of the night after a plane transfer shifted me on the way to pick up a car—with over $6,000 in cash in my pocket, no idea of how to find my ride–waiting at Dulles–and not the slightest clue of how to find my way to Virginia. I started on the rail system to get me ‘somewhere.’ Got off at what I thought was a good place to wait for my ride. It was in the middle of nowhere with homeless wandering around and a few cabbies busy talking. Finally got one to get in the cab, I told him to take me as close to Virginia as possible. After ‘several’ dollars in advance, he finally found the dealership I wanted (after 3 different phone calls) and ‘several’ more dollars he delivered me to the still open dealership. 30 minutes later, I ‘got-the-hell-outta-Dodge-!!! Never again will I ever get even close to our nation’s capital!! Lotsa-luck!! I will follow this trip in my air-conditioned home (it is 98 degrees outside in Santa Ana today) in pure joy that I am not with you. But I do sure enjoy the articles!!!—j

    • I sure don’t blame you for wanting to stay away after an experience like that. There’s no doubt that, had last night’s setting been “the middle of nowhere” rather than at a major hub, I’d have felt much different than I did. I’ve personally never been real comfortable with cabs and I have absolutely no experience with them in DC. I have used the city rail and been impressed with it. I’ll probably use it a few times over the next couple of days but it will be daytime only.

      • As always, your story is both encouraging and enlightening! I don’t think I’ll ever get back there so your story and pictures serve a good purpose for me. I can always travel through you. Thanks again.

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