Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Journey Begins

Day One (Massachusetts)


On a Sunday in Western Massachusetts, not much is going on. A storm from the south is coming, and looks to dump a butt load of snow on our sleepy little area, but I am heading in the other direction of it.

I have three pieces of luggage - a banjo, a suitcase and a laptop case. I asked the guy at the Amtrak counter if I should check my banjo in the luggage car.

"I wouldn't recommend it" was all he said.

The train is 3/4 full when I get aboard, and I sit next to a young guy who was only going to Albany from Springfield. He asked where I was going, and I told him I was headed for Chicago.

"Wow", he responded. "That's a long way."

"That's just the beginning", I followed up.

After pulling out of the station 20 minutes late, we went on our way through Westfield and Pittsfield. Had a couple of stops for freight and for an opposite-heading Amtrak, but still made it to Albany on time. Now I sit in the car while they hook up the NYC portion of the train to make a giant 14 car Lake Shore Limited.

The Albany station looks brand new, and we had an option of staying on board, or hanging out in the station. If I chose to go inside the station I would have to stay there for over and hour, then walk up 11 cars to get back aboard. I decided it was early enough in my journey that I was all set with moving around. I decided to stay put, and wait for us to head out to Chicago. I will call my wife in the AM and tell her where I am at. She looked pretty sad when I left, and not just because she was going to face a blizzard all alone.

I have not yet seen the diner car, but after eating a Nutri-grain bar, and some canned chicken salad that looked a lot like cat food, I may have to see the bar car before long.

It's 6:00PM.

Note: One bathroom is out of order, and the other is a handicapped lavatory. It was still a tight fit, what with the extra room and support handrails. Not the scariest bathroom I have ever been in, but not exactly the Ritz either.

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