Day 6: October 8, 2014
Full Circle

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A block and a half walk and a quick Metro ride got me back to Union Station. A longer ticket counter isn't the only difference between Cincinnati's Amtrak operation and the one in Washington. In Washington they have multiple gates and enough trains to require screens listing them. It was encouraging to see the Cardinal, my ride home, listed as "on time".

Once again the train was nearly filled and once again I found myself assigned to an aisle seat. There were plenty of issues with this trip from the severe delays to the rain and the fact that it was too early for much color in the trees but I think this bothered me more than anything. Sitting on the aisle made me a little disconnected from the trip and unaware of surroundings. I could get pictures only when my row mate was gone or by going to the cafe car or a between car platform which meant the chances for spontaneous photos was just about nil. The only other time I've ridden this route was in 2004 and it was far from full on that trip. I had a two seat row to myself and there were plenty of others open so I could switch to the other side now and then. I'm guessing that the increase in riders is due to economic conditions. It's certainly not because of improved adherence to schedules or more gourmet options in the cafe car. I'm glad to see the increase since it makes it more likely that train travel will continue to be available. I just wish I could get a window seat.

I still managed a few pictures of countryside that's going to be a lot more colorful in the next week or two. You might think that I was pointing my camera at the white SUV in the third picture but that's not quite right. My actual target was this.

Here's a shot of the train interior for the sake of completeness and because I had nothing better to do.

The train had pulled out of Union Station on time but that didn't last long. One reason was an unusual stop somewhere in Virginia. The cafe car was in front of me and another passenger cars was behind. Foot traffic between the two was common. I recognized a woman coming from the direction of the cafe car as one who had headed that way not long after we started. She looked confused and seemed to study every seat in front of her. When I first noticed her, I guessed she was looking for her seat which I assumed was in the car behind me but she stopped before she even reached my seat. Eventually an Amtrak employee spoke to her and she turned back toward the front of the train. Similar scenes occurred a few more times until three Amtrak employees approached her as she once again stood in the aisle looking confused and more or less escorted her to the rear car. I don't even remember if the train stopped shortly before or shortly after this. I later learned that police had boarded the train during the stop and removed her and that a man had left, seemingly voluntarily, at the same time.

OK, Amtrak, that's fifteen minutes of delay that wasn't your fault but what about the other hour? Our arrival in Cincinnati, scheduled for 1:13 AM, occurred about 2:30.

I'd eaten a large breakfast before leaving the hotel but since then had only a bag of peanuts. In order to make my nights more comfortable, I try to avoid eating after 9:00. I wasn't famished but I was hungry and decided this would be an exception. Besides, I hadn't had a 3:00 AM 4-way in years and I found the idea of bracketing the train ride with Camp Washington Chili visits appealing. Lonnie Mack would be proud.

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