Rail Ridin' Redux, or CelticWhisper Goes to Providence

Discussion in 'Railways, Highways, Waterways' started by CelticWhisper, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So, after the smashing success that was my first journey on Amtrak from Chicago to Philadelphia and back, I'm (very slowly) gearing up to set off again, this time to Providence, RI for the NecronomiCon H.P. Lovecraft Convention.

    It's not until August, so I won't be liveblogging for a while yet, but I'm aiming to reserve a roomette on the Capitol Limited this time around and will let you all know what that's like. Also hope to be able to provide some images and video as I now have at least some feel for the process of traveling by Amtrak (and won't be caught unawares with all my kit plugged in and powered up when we're 15 seconds away from my stop).

    So mostly, this is a placeholder thread. At least for now. However, as was the case before, if anyone has any insight into how to get the most out of a CHI<-->PVD trip, please do tip me off. I'll be on the 30 for 17 hours this time, and the Northeast Regional for about 7, so will be getting some different sights this go-around.

    More as it develops.
  2. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    Good on you! I've already got Houston-Philly round trip booked around July 4th, and am soon fixing to book Houston-LA-San Fran-Denver round trip for the fall.
  3. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    I can hear it in my head already, my (un?)offiical rail-travel song.

    Daddy, where are you now? Forgot about your vow... Magical to listen to on a nighttime train (I think it's to do with the percussion. Sounds a lot like a train running over the periodic breaks in the rails. Oh, it's also a really depressing song, but still really good.)
  4. RB

    RB Founding Member

    When rail goes seamless that old clickety clack will be a sound of the past.
  5. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So, taking the Capitol Limited from Chicago to DC, and then Northeast Regional from DC to Providence. Will be getting a roomette on the Capitol Limited, as 17 hours in coach seems like it would be...trying.

    However, while those two routes are my only option for getting there, I have some choices for how I want to get back. I can take the same route back with a more expensive CL roomette, which is the least expensive choice barring sitting in coach, but I've already done a large part of the 29 route back from Pittsburgh last year. I can also take the Lake Shore Limited, which would provide new scenery, but the rooms are MUCH more expensive ($480 for a roomette, haven't looked at other accommodations) and I would pretty much have to ride coach because...well, ouch.

    So I'm wondering if I should stick with the tried-and-true Capitol Limited for the return trip, bite the bullet in coach on the LSL for different views and variety, or really bite the bullet, take up a second job and subsist on Top Ramen for a few months and book a roomette on the LSL.

    Can anyone advise? Are the sights along the LSL route worth the loss of roomette comfort or the increased price for something different?
  6. RB

    RB Founding Member

    How much day light window time do you anticpate? I'm what some call cheap, I prefer frugal, but in my mind price is important. If you're getting off along the way that would be a different consideration. If it's a straight shot then I would probably pick price over new views especially if a fair amount of the trip was during hours of darkness.
  7. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    I'd do the Cap. The LSL is priced like it is because of the demand for a one-seat (er, room) ride between CUS and NYP, and while the Hudson Valley scenery is nice, most of the "new" stuff is in darkness anyway.

    An alternative, if you're looking for affordable and scenic, would be to take the Pennsylvanian from NYC to PIT, and catch the Cap there... there is a bit of a wait in PIT, but the station is very near the trendy part of town, and you'd get the PA Dutch/Amish country and famous Horseshoe Curve in daylight. Get into PIT at 8ish, have a few drinks/go see some of the Pirates game if they're in town, Catch the Cap in PIT around midnight, hit the hay in the roomette, and arrive fresh in CUS
  8. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    Just priced it...

    PVD-NYP on Regional, NYP-PIT on Pennsylvanian, PIT-CUS in Roomette: $332
    PVD-NYP on Acela (if you want the fast ride), NYP-PIT on Pennsylvanian, PIT-CUS in Roomette: $425
  9. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    If you ride the Lake Shore Limited, you can report on the current state of passenger harassment at the hands of our friendly Border Patrol thugs ...

    They reportedly cut back on this harassement after Amtrak officials refused to delay a train while they harassed people.

    New York Times: Border Sweeps in North Reach Miles Into U.S.

    The Lake Shore Limited runs between Chicago and New York City without crossing the Canadian border. But when it stops at Amtrak stations in western New York State, armed Border Patrol agents routinely board the train, question passengers about their citizenship and take away noncitizens who cannot produce satisfactory immigration papers.

    “Are you a U.S. citizen?” agents asked one recent morning, moving through a Rochester-bound train full of dozing passengers at a station outside Buffalo. “What country were you born in?”

    When the answer came back, “the U.S.,” they moved on. But Ruth Fernandez, 60, a naturalized citizen born in Ecuador, was asked for identification. And though she was only traveling home to New York City from her sister’s in Ohio, she had made sure to carry her American passport. On earlier trips, she said, agents had photographed her, and taken away a nervous Hispanic man.
  10. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    Unfortunately I did LSL the other way, Albany to Boston, for a funeral a few weeks back, so no report there.
  11. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    This is weird. Acela service does run between DC and PVD, but isn't available as part of a round-trip CHI<-->PVD booking. I have to book individual routes to DC, to PVD, back to DC, and back to CHI to be able to choose Acela.

    Maybe I should just stick with the NE Regional?
  12. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    You can't make any connection between the NE corridor and the Capitol Limited, has to be booked separate. The reason for this is that due to CSX regularly fornicating the canine with their freights, AMTRAK can't guarantee the connection. When I make conjugal visits to WV I take the commuter out Friday and separate book AMTRAK for the return trip on Sunday. Electronic ticketing made that so much easier.

    And the earliest I will book a train for travel to NYC is 4pm if I'm doing so. I have had the Capitol Limited be six or seven hours late getting into Harper's Ferry.
  13. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So, looks like I'll be doing a roomette on the 30 to and from DC, taking the Northeast Regional up from DC to Providence, and then the Acela (with a First Class upgrade, woo) back to DC.

    Thread on Amtak forum about this trip.

    As I asked in the linked discussion...getting butterflies about the prospect of dealing with TSA/DHS/VIPR during this trip. My brief interaction with Amtrak Police (asking where the car-rental office was) went perfectly fine and they were relaxed and helpful, but...well, this is TUG. TSA needs no introduction here. I'm pretty sure there's no statute that allows them to scope or grope rail passengers, but on the flipside, aren't VIPRs usually armed? We're adopting a dog in the very near future - will their dogs smell another dog on me and go crazy? How do I just get left alone?

    Will be bringing my pen-cam in any case as an insurance policy, but...nervous.
  14. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    Last time I connected in DC (October), there was an abundance of "See something, say something" blather going on in the background at WUS, which everyone was politely tuning out just like they tune out all the rest of the folderol. There were no canine teams, no armed VIPRs, heck I even dodged the security guard trying to make everyone do the "Kindergarten Walk" by going out the back door to Club Acela and down to the platforms when he waddled off to do something else briefly, and was waiting on the platform when the train arrived.
  15. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    The last time I was through DC was during the inauguration. A few more cops, a few more AMTRAK K-9, and they boarded my train early to relieve congestion in the station. Unless the pit VIPRs actually scramble during that week, I wouldn't worry too much.

    I spent most of my time in Pizzaria Uno, which is not a bad place to be if you don't actually need WiFi.
  16. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So, mere hours remain. I'm definitely excited about going to this convention but the articles of late that have talked about the Terrorists Searching Americans branching out into rail travel have me nervous again.

    Will be keeping in mind JoeBas' suggestion about ClubAcela. I did want to ask, though - will I have direct boarding from ClubAcela to the Northeast Regional on my way out there? I'll be arriving in WAS in a sleeper but continuing on in Business Class. As I understand it, CA is for first-class passengers and there is no first class on the NER. Just Acela and long-distance sleepers.

    Will I be able to use the "hide out in ClubAcela and board from there" trick to evade TSA if their snakes decide to spew their venom at the station? Can I enter ClubAcela but not board the NER from it? Do I get no access at all?

    Either way, I have my discreet camera (and my Xanax) at the ready.
  17. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    On the Metra en route to Ogilvie Station now. Operator likes putting the pedal to the metal when pulling away from a stop. Don't like these lurching starts - almost dropped me phone twice. Oop, here we go again.
  18. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Now sitting in the Metro Lounge at CUS. Daaaaaaaaamn, this place is nice. Beats the crap out of the plastic seats in the coach boarding area. Need to go on a trip in the winter so I can be here while the fireplace is burning.
  19. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Also, thus far I've seen no blue-shirted thugs. To say I'm relieved is an understatement. I still have my concerns regarding WAS but at least for now I'm safe.
  20. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Oof. Okay, hunger headache, okay, you win. I'm off to grab a quick snack to tide me over until dinner (which will be linguini with roasted peppers). Will update again when news happens.

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