Monday, May 14, 2018

Train, plane, automobile... given a choice?

HALLIE EPHRON: Later this week, I'm taking Amtrak from Boston to Lancaster, PA (changing trains in Philadelphia) for the Pennwriters Conference. My train leaves at 7:30 AM and arrives at 2 PM. And when I arrive, I'm in Lancaster... as opposed an airport 2 hours away.

I take the train all the time, Boston to NY. (
This is a photo I took from the train window on a rainy morning... somewhere in Connecticut.)
Boston to Lancaster is about my limit in terms of distance.

In many ways, traveling by train a breeze compared to flying. No getting to the airport 1-2 hours before departure. No TSA. No angst over whether there will be room for my carry-on. No waiting for the FASTEN SEAT BELT sign to go off so I can pee.

Just drive to the station. Park. Board. And my car is waiting for me on the back end.

Having said that, I've had my share of lousy train experiences. The time a late train from NY was involved in what they euphemistically call a "trespasser strike"--some poor soul jumped in front of the train in the middle of nowhere. We were supposed to arrive at 11PM. Arrived at 3:30 AM. Another time an ice storm froze the train's doors shut. But usually the train gets you there without incident, more or less on time.

Are you a fan of trains or would you rather fly or drive? Anyone taken any memorable (good or bad) train trips?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So funny--I always feel as if I should put on my seat belt on a train, don't you? I adore trains, and would prefer them above all else if it doesn't take ridiculously long.

Once, when I was still afraid of flying, I trained from Boston to Chicago. That was a DUMBEST idea ever. It sounded very peaceful and relaxing, with
gorgeous scenery, but it was basically long and bumpy. And you are trapped. And it is difficult to sleep in those sleeper cars, cool as they seem, they are tiny and noisy and I always think someone is looking in the window when the train pulls into a station. (It's not like the Cary Grant car in North by Northwest. Not at all.)

But! best of all is the quiet car. I am the president of the quiet car fan club. Jonathan would rather drive from Boston to New York, but I always love the train.

NO buses. I know, they aren't like they used to be. But I don't need to find out.

HALLIE: (I know, that's not the Cary Grant car in North by Northwest, but I couldn't resist.)

LUCY BURDETTE: I love trains too, except occasionally when they don't work.
To get to New York from CT, we take the Shoreline East train to New Haven, and the Metro North to Grand Central. Except...they are working on the Amtrak line in New England so there is only one track working. So if one little thing goes wrong, you sit and sit and sit. Or else lots of people are getting shuttled to the bus, so you sit there. Even worse. But when it's working, you skip the traffic and get the most marvelous scenery all along the coast.

Oh and one other small issue. The bathrooms are well...unacceptable on the Metro North. So I try to go before I get on the train and then worry the rest of the way in. So silly.

RHYS BOWEN: I love trains in Europe. I love the way German and Swiss trains show arrival at 11:43 on the timetable and the train pulls in exactly at 11:43. And they are so smooth and fast. And I love the way they snake through the backstreets of a town so you find yourself peeking into rear windows and seeing
life going on. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in a different one.

In California there is only the Coastal Starlight that is supposed to be lovely but I have never tried, and local commute trains. I have taken the Acela between NY and DC many times. It's fast and efficient and much easier than flying but it does sway around a lot, as I found out the other day trying to walk with two cups of coffee.

HANK: Oh, I took that Coastal Starlight--from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara..no, mine was called the Pacific Shoreliner. It was amazing, gorgeous, fabulous, right along the shoreline of the Pacific! And double-decker!

HALLIE: The train I took in Florida from  Fort Lauderdale Airport to Boca Raton was double-decker. Four dollars. Highly recommended.


JENN McKINLAY: Count me as a train lover! When I was at school in New Haven and my best friend was in Providence, we rode the train to visit each other all the time. We also hopped the train to Boston when we were in high school and then New York when we were in college. Fun, fun, fun!


We have the light rail here and it covers most of the Valley so when we go to a ballgame or the theater in downtown Phoenix, we catch the train at a stop in Tempe a few miles form our house and we're downtown in twenty minutes. The trains are clean and fast. No muss, no fuss, no parking issues!

INGRID THOFT: Looks like I’ll be the only one on the plane! When it comes to travel on the eastern seaboard, I completely understand the preference for trains; those short hop flights are plagued by delays. For me, though, planes
are the way to go. Admittedly, because I travel a lot on one particular airline (Alaska) I often get upgraded, which completely changes the travel experience.

I think plane travel also appeals because it makes the world seem much smaller and more manageable. Living on the west coast, I like to imagine that my family isn’t really that far away on the east coast and traveling by plane allows me to foster this fantasy. And the places you can go in a short amount of time! Hawaii is only a short six hours from Seattle versus a month on a boat! You can’t beat that!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It really does depend on what part of the country you're living in, Ingrid. Up here in New England, the train is a natural - It's literally the only way I go to NYC. QUIET CAR 4 LYFE! That being said, I've taken a few LONG train trips and they do seem to go on forever in this country. I can't figure out if its because they do trains so much better in Europe, or because the US is simply so darn big. I would definitely opt to go with you via plane for any destination more than, say, and eight hour train ride away. Also, I'm so sad to hear the sleeping car doesn't feel like North By Northwest! I've always thought sleeping on a train sounded so romantic. Guess I'll have to save that for my dream Venice-Simplon Orient Express trip.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I love trains, especially in Britain and Europe, but they are few in my part of the country. There is a proposal for a high speed train from Dallas to Houston, so keeping fingers crossed for that. The drive takes four to five hours, depending on traffic, and although the flight is under an hour, by the time you add drives to airports and waiting times, flying can take even
longer and it us such a pain.

I have made a couple of epic US train journeys, however. When my daughter was little we took Amtrak from Dallas to LA to San Francisco (the Coastal Starlight really is something everyone should do) and back. We made another trip from Dallas to Chicago to Toronto, but that one was not nearly as memorable.

The bad thing for me is that I can't read on a train--the rocking gives me motion-sickness, and can even give me vertigo after a while. So no reading also means no working. Boo. But lots of naps and scenery watching does have its appeal!

HALLIE: So what'll it be for you (assuming you have options): train, plane, or automobile? Has anyone taken the bus/Limoliner?

90 comments:

  1. I like flying [the actual flying, not all the hassle that goes with air travel today], but there’s something really quite special about trains. I remember my mom taking Jean and I on a train to get to dancing lessons when we were little; when I was in college, I rode the Long Island Railroad into New York City all the time . . . .

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    1. I always wanted dancing lessons... that's another topic...

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    2. I took ballet at age 40! we will not mention my knees now!

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    3. I took BALLROOM dancing at 40. Would love to learn to tap, but that horse has left the barn.

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    4. Hallie, I loved dancing lessons! I took lessons [ballet, tap, acrobatics, modern jazz] until I went away to college . . . I wasn’t talented enough to dance professionally, but it was wonderful just to have the opportunity to dance.

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  2. Definitely a where you are in the country thing.I love trains, and have even traveled the auto train (ahead of Hurricane Hugo-we caught the tailings as we were rolling through Jacksonville). Quiet car, dining car, leg room. What's not to like?

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    1. The auto car sounds like a great idea.

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  3. I've contemplated the train a few times, and definitely plan to try it the next time I have to go to San Antonio, but train service is limited here in Texas, and sometimes weird. For instance, I once looked up the schedule for Amtrak from Dallas to Kansas City, where my sister lives, and found I couldn't go directly there. I had to go to St. Louis first, then back to KC. Nonsense!

    As for the bus . . . well, let's just say that I have a few bus stories, all of which involve 50 musicians and trying not to get lost on my watch. I'm usually the Designated Adult. Our conductor is fond of taking what he calls "the fancy bus"--I'm guessing like your Limoliner--up from Austin, but there's no car rental close to where it lets him off, so he has to use Uber or depend on us for transportation after he gets to Dallas.

    If time is limited, I fly. But if time isn't limited, and I can take a day or more to get where I'm going, oh, I love to drive! I love to see different scenery, and pull off in small towns to poke through antique stores or sample the local cuisine. It doesn't hurt that I drive one of America's great open road cars. I've driven up the Oregon coast, longways across Tennessee, and straight through the heart of the Dust Bowl, and I don't think there's a better way to see the USA. Only just not in a Chevrolet, please.

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    1. You mentioned Uber! Ride hailing in general makes things like taking the train somewhere like Texas possible.

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    2. Debs and I used Uber and Lyft to get around in Austin, even though we had her car. It was just easier. But it still won't make up for the lack of a rail line to Alpine or Amarillo. Texas is big, and we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to rail travel here.

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    3. I used Uber in Portland, OR - super convenient when it works.

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  4. What fun stories! Enjoy Pennwriters, Hallie. I have wanted to go for a while now. I have done Acela and the slower train Boston to DC and loved it. It is so cool to travel through areas cars never go. Here is one nobody has mentioned - the Shinkansen in Japan was a fast fabulous bullet train over 40 years ago. I assume it still is. On time like the Swiss trains, it was comfortable, smooth, and so efficient.

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    1. My perennial question: was there food on that train?

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    2. Yes, food!

      I should also say that I still love long solo car trips. Drove all over the country alone in the 80s in my used 1970 Volvo. SO dreamy. And I still love it, but don't tolerate sitting still for as long as I used to.

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    3. I don't mind the long sitting so much as the trying to get up after.

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  5. As I hate driving long distances if I can possibly avoid it, taking a car trip is definitely out.

    I haven't ever taken a trip by train. I likely was going to do that though if I'd been able to swing that trip to Thrillerfest this summer.

    Generally I would prefer to go by plane if I have to take a long distance trip. Yes it is a pain with all that goes along with being able to get on a plane these days but it gets me to where I'm going a lot faster than other modes of travel.

    I've only taken one trip by bus. I went to Hartford, CT and stayed a weekend with a friend of mine so that we could go see my favorite metal band, Savatage, on their "Poets and Madmen" tour. It was a decent enough trip but the layovers were a pain on the trip back.

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    1. Like you, I'll do anything to avoid a long drive... but a long bus ride would be a bridge too far.

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    2. Hallie, to date it is the ONLY bus trip I've taken. I'm not looking to do it again.

      But the benefit was I got to see the band on their last tour before they broke up, meet most of the band before the show because a friend of mine had backstage passes. So that trip was DEFINITELY worth the aggravation of the long bus ride.

      I've also come to the conclusion that unless events come to Rhode Island or Massachusetts, I'm probably never going to go to them because I don't want to take long trips at all.

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  6. I've forgotten the name of the program, but in the mid-late-1990s, a lot of federal transportation money was available for states to use to explore better transportation modes--within cities, across the country--wherever. Trains were high on everyone's list of preferred alternatives to new road infrastructure. Alas, lots of studies, few results. A Tri-C high speed train was one possibility explored for Ohio (Cinci-Columbus-Cleveland) which would have done wonders for reducing highway travel, but it never came to pass. I love trains, love to fly (it depends where I'm going and how fast I need to be there), but (making sign of the cross) NO buses for me! Still shuddering at a bus-stop in the bowels of Chicago's underbelly at midnight--restrooms unspeakable!

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    1. Having driven from Pennsylvania through Ohio quite a few times, a train sounds like it would be fabulous. I often wonder about the priorities we have in this country. Thank GOODNESS no one marketed single-family airplanes before the big planes came along.

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    2. There's an Amtrak stop about 20 minutes from me--a friend takes the train into Chicago and back all the time to visit her grandbabies, and I've hopped it going east into Boston myself. The North Shore express.

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  7. I've taken two long and memorable train trips. From Dallas to Portland, OR and also from Portland to Austin. Both times the Coastal Starlight was part of the trip (and it was lovely indeed - great scenery). The change in LA and across the southern part of the US was OK-ish. Being a Texas native, I'm used to the look of the West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, but after a while, it's a little 'dry'. My daughter was with me both times and these are overnight trips. Once we had a small cabin (no bathroom included), once it was the 'deluxe' (with bathroom). It was OK, mostly.

    I'm not the most comfortable flier, but have gotten better over the years. Being from Texas though, we usually just drive most places (like to NM) and we are used to long drives. I do think a high speed train between Austin and Dallas would be nice and maybe Austin and Houston. San Antonio could be included as well.

    Who has taken the trip across Canada from the Banff area to Vancouver and British Columbia? That's a train trip I'd love to take sometime. Maybe my husband and I could do that for our 40th anniversary!!

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    1. I've heard that train across Canada is a beautiful ride. It's on my list too.
      "OK, mostly" - curious minds????

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    2. Hmmm...well, this was a few years ago. I had to call the attendant/conductor in the night because the toilet wouldn't flush. Poor man - felt bad about that. Also, it did have a private bath, but what was involved in getting a 'shower' was interesting. Then the whole cubicle was wet and had to be wiped down. There was enough room though. Oh, and my daughter had trouble riding 'backwards', so I had to do that. It was a little disconcerting. And then the delays and the schedule - we got into Austin at something like 5AM and my folks had to come downtown and pick us up at that time. Ha!

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    3. That little bathroom - sounds like our "Sherlette" (shower/toilet) on a cruise.

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    4. I want to do that Canada trip, too!

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  8. Back in the day I used to load all the kids on the Katy from Dallas to Kansas City, leaving at bed time and arriving in time for breakfast. It was my favorite way to travel with children, and we all slept most of the way.

    I've taken AMtrak once from Rochester to NYC, and it was a beautiful trip, in the fall thru the Hudson Valley. And trains in Europe are amazing, fast, clean and one time. Once, on the Thalys from Bruges to Paris, we got delayed for a couple of hours, can't remember why now. But what I do remember is a few weeks later we received a credit for the price of the tickets, all because the train was late. Talk about customer service.

    I hate to fly. I do it only when it is the only option. Period. Crowded, dirty johns, delays, the pelvic exams I get going thru security even though I spent 85 bucks on one of those clearance thingies. Even with a business class upgrade I'm miserable.

    My absolute favorite way to travel is by car. Julie always drives as she gets carsick otherwise. Either that or she thinks I'll backend an 18 wheeler, something like that anyway. Our last road trip was to Lancaster, Hallie, and it was just splendid. I hope you can get out into the countryside and see the sights and sites. The Amish live a very different life than most of the rest of us, and it fascinates me. Take the time to enjoy it, and if you can't get outside the city, for sure visit the public market. On an empty stomach. Because you'll want to eat everything!

    Bon voyage

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    1. Love you descriptions, Ann - and I'll be looking for sticky buns in Lancaster. And someone told me there's a good French (!) bakery there.

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    2. Just don't bring up anything sounding close to "Whoopie Pies were invented in Maine." The Amish claim them as their own. It could get ugly. :-D

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    3. Are those anything like cow flops?

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  9. I've traveled by plane, train and bus. I'll never do a longer than an hour bus trip again. The many stops and the restroom. No. I took the train to Albany and that was a pleasant ride. I took the train to DC and that was also a pleasant ride. Here's my problem...I really hate having to take an one-hour subway ride to the city to catch Amtrak - where I have to wait between 30-60 minutes for boarding - and then the hustle and bustle of getting the perfect seat (for me, by the window, close to the restroom), only to discover that the quiet car is way at the end and by the time you get there, you can't be choosy with your ideal seat.

    So, I prefer flying as I'm 30 minutes from the airport and I'll arrive at my destination within the allotted time. NYC to DC = 4-5 hours by train or NYC to DC = 2 hours. I do dislike what one must go through to board the plane, but once on the plane - I'm good.

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    1. Who knew traveling was all about location, location, location!

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  10. Oh, I’d love to take that Canada train, Kay! I bet it is gorgeous.
    Another train I loved: my sister and I, when we were little, used to take the train—the Monon-/ from Indianapolis to Chicago to visit my dad. The dining car was so glamorous! And we had poundcake and Coke—such a treat— and looked out the window, gosh, we were at maybe 7 and 10? On our own! The Porter was assigned to take care of us. Wow, that would never happen now.

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    1. There's sadly no poundcake on Amtrak, unless you count the Drakes cake that's in a sealed cellophane pouch.

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  11. I wish I had the train option. It’s an hour and a half drive to the nearest train station. That’s about the same as the drive to the nearest airport, BUT unless things have changed recently, the Downeaster goes to one Boston station while trains going anywhere else I might want to go, like NY, DC, or points west, leave from the other, and the schedules are such that I’d have to stay overnight in Boston before I could continue on. I hate the hassle of flying these days, but for any distance its pretty much the only choice. There were no passenger trains left where I grew up and rail service, such as it is, didn’t come back to Maine until fairly recently, so I have only traveled by train three times in my entire life, and two of those were only short jaunts on commuter trains to get into NYC. Could be why my characters spent so much of one book, set in 1888, on a train!!

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    1. That's always been a huge issue for Boston train travel - the disconnected (except by 2 subway trains) North Station and South Station. It's why we've never taken the Downeaster even though we go to Portland ME all the time. They keep talking about a 'fix' but after The Big Dig who knows if any major infrastructure project will ever get approved here again.

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    2. Hank,

      A lovely train ride I took several years ago was one through the Canadian Rockies. It was a two-day trip, we stopped in Kamloops overnight and got back on the train the next morning. The trip was heavenly, especially the second day we got deeper into the Rockies. I recommend it to everyone.

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  12. Train over plane for me. (But there are not enough trains close enough.) I can’t sleep, read, write, or watch those little screens without feeling dizzy on a plane. And, while the motion of the train sometimes does this, there is always the vast view out the window, which doesn’t require claustrophobic squishing too near wall and ceiling and the person in the next seat. Epic train trip from Connecticut to Seattle WA, seven years ago. Wonderful, even with the 4 hour delay on the return here because of hurricane caused flooding all along the Hudson Valley. Amazing to see the power of that river.

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    1. Connecticut to Seattle!! Straight through or did you stop?

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    2. My reply fell victim to the mysterious disappearing... Both to and from Seattle, there was a layover in Chicago — too short to leave the station (not familiar with the city) and just a bit too long for waiting, although my return was after Labor Day and the lounge was quiet and peaceful, not crowded and rowdy as on the way out.

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    3. Also I was in the Seattle area for 2 weeks in between.

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  13. Amtrak for the Boston-New York-DC trips. My kids have taken the Megabus from Cincinnati to Chicago and DC to NYC. We make the drive from Cincinnati to DC at least once a year. I-68 through the mountains from Morgantown to Hagerstown is beautiful if it's not raining, snowing, or fogbound, which makes it a nail-chewing, follow the taillights drive.

    The Chunnel train from London to Paris is smooth, clean, and quiet. We did go through security at both ends. I had to explain to the soldier in charge of the baggage x-ray why I had two omelet pans and whisks in my bag. When I visit Paris, I buy cooking equipment.

    The trains in Italy were great, though buying the tickets and finding the platforms posed some problems. Dogs are allowed on trains, and we encountered at least one in our car on every trip.

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    2. Margaret, you're a woman after my own heart! I brought back a quiche pan (with drop out sides).

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  14. Train travel is unusual in Michigan so this was the first time I'd heard of the Quiet Car. What a fantastic idea! My severe hearing loss makes travel miserable because noise is physically painful. It's one of the many reasons flying is such an awful experience. Car travel is best for me but I fly when I need to.

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    1. Condolences on that, Cathy. Our friend's son has just been diagnosed with hyperacusis and it's miserable.

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  15. I like buses trains cars and planes. I’ve used the cheap buses from one city to another and they are comfortable fast and inexpensive. The Metro North from New Haven to Grand Central is$11 for seniors and $1 for each grandchild! The train from DC to NYC! The one that goes to Poughkeepsie! But Amtrak is $$$$.
    I like to drive because I love my audio books. Flying is my choice when I have to.

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    1. amtrak is pricey but if you buy your ticket REAL early and don't go Acela you can get some pretty good bargains. $43 and even less BOS to NYP. Of course it's the milk run, and if your train is at all behind schedule you have to stop and let every other train speed past.

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  16. Albany to NYC by train is wonderful! Albany to Florida (24 hours!) not nearly as pleasant. I would love to take that California coastal trip!

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  17. Several times I've driven from Miami to the Florida Keys, and it's so sad after you leave the mainland to see the remnants of train tracks, Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway, which ran all the way down to Key West and was destroyed in a 1935 hurricane. Just imagine, getting on a train in Miami and being whisked down to the bottom-most Key.

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  18. We were supposed to take the train from NJ to Boston a few years ago to attend my nieces graduation. That was the week they had the bad derailment in PA and the trains weren’t running. Driving that far with my mom who was in her 80s at the time wasn’t an option so we wound up staying home. I have done that train ride several times in the past though and would rather do that then drive to Boston.

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    1. Good thing you weren't ON that train that derailed. I was once on a subway train that derailed. Terrible sound, jolt. You knew something was very wrong.

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  19. Not a fan of flying, only because of all the airport hassle.

    I've never taken a train (I'm not counting the Metro in DC, which I adore, actually), but I want to in the worst way. Wouldn't you know the year I can't go to Pennwriters (because of The Girl's graduation) I could take a train and see Hallie!

    Julia, I think it's the size of the US compared to the countries in Europe. We have that big stretch in the middle of the country that, depending on how you cut it, is just miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.

    A friend of mine recently did a cross-country train trip from (I think) the West Coast to Chicago. She posted pictures (free wifi) and it looked amazing.

    Something for the bucket list.

    Mary/Liz

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  20. Because my dad was a telegrapher when I was small, for two different railroads, we were able to travel overnight to Boston from Hamilton, Ohio for my uncle's wedding. I will never forget sleeping in the upper bunk with my mother, while my dad was in the bunk below us (or vice versa--it was about 63 years ago!). Back then, train travel in the US was deluxe, with porters and dining cars, and luxurious train stations, like the Union Terminal in Cincinnati in its heyday.

    Air travel used to be similarly fancy, even in coach, although I really do not miss the smoking "section" being the row after the non-smoking area. So happy they outlawed smoking on planes, even though that's one of the very few positive changes in flying. It used to be my favorite way to travel, but now I'll drive, even halfway across the country, if I can, just to avoid being crammed into an airborne sardine can with a couple hundred strangers.

    The trains in Europe were/are mostly fun, especially the one between London and Paris using the Chunnel. The Eurostar is so fast, and pretty fancy for the amount of time it takes. Our family took a weekend trip (don't--it's four times as pricey over a weekend, we found), and enjoyed it thoroughly. But the VSOE train in Peru that goes to Aguas Caliente at the foot of Machu Picchu was my favorite. Super deluxe accommodations, with gourmet food and beverage offerings, and a spectacular view of the Urubumba Valley along the way.

    I've never traveled by riverboat, although friends say it's one of their favorites. The small ship cruise in the Galapagos was fantastic, with a nice little en suite stateroom, and superb food prepared fresh for us at every meal. Naturally, I was seasick in open water, but it was still one of the most memorable of all my trips. Sea lions hitched rides on the back end of the ship every night, in a constant battle with the crew. They had to scrub the back deck a couple times a day, thanks to the hitchhikers!

    I really want to take that train trip across Canada, and the one along the Pacific coast. My husband would never do it, so I'll have to find a girlfriend or family member to travel with.

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    1. We took that train in Peru! LOVED it. As you wind your way up, you get glimpses of intrepid hikers trekking upward. Ann, off-line could you send me info about the cruise line you went with in the Galapagos? And can I just say, from our Alaska trip I learned what bad breath(!) sea lions have. Not sure which end of them it's coming out of.

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  21. PS the photo of the women (and "women") in the sleeping car above is from my favorite movie of all time: Some Like it Hot.

    Wherein there is the single sexiest scene ever filmed between Tony Curtis (out of drag) and a steaming hot Marilyn Monroe in a nearly transparent and form-fitting dress. In a private car. Hubba, hubba. Now that's the way to travel.

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    1. It did seem as if Marilyn's clothes wore HER.

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  22. We are taking the train from Baltimore to Boston for our vacation this summer. (Thankfully, timed so that I can see the Reds at their Boston event - assuming all goes well with travel that day - fingers crossed).

    It is preferable to flying, just less stressful over all. But for longer trips, driving is better as one has more control.

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    1. Baltimore-Boston is snap. Though the bit through NJ is far from scenic.

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    2. Kristopher, I'm hoping to go to that Reds event as well. The one at the Booksmith right?

      Be nice to meet you as well.

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  23. Great post! Happy Monday! It's Royal Wedding countdown wedding. I look forward to the wedding!

    Love trains. My earliest memory is taking the train with my parents from Berkeley, CA to the Union Station in Los Angeles. My grandfather met us at the train station, though I did not remember that part. I just remember snippets. There used to be a train station in Berkeley with restaurants. Since the train station has been downsized, I do not know the status of the station now. There is a new train station in Emeryville, which is close to Berkeley.

    After that, it was travel by plane. I loved train travel in Europe. I took a few train trips in the USA like DC to Charlottesville, VA, DC to Boston and Boston to DC. The Union Station in DC is very nice with little shops and restaurants like Pizzeria Uno.

    I've never tried that train route between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. There is a new mystery novelist who also wrote about train travel. The author's name is Henry Kisor.

    We have the Napa Valley Wine Train which is lovely.

    Happy Monday,
    Diana

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    1. Wine train? REALLY?!? Sign me up!!

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    2. Hallie, here is the link:

      https://www.winetrain.com/

      Diana

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  24. I developed a fear of flying 30 or so years ago so trains and cars and boats for me now. I took the train about 2 weeks ago to NYC from Raleigh. It is a ten hour train trip so now I get a roomette. Only real downside is they did away with the dining car. Plus they are getting a bit shabby but I was on time for both legs.

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    1. That's another topic: What do you bring to eat on a long train ride? Fried chicken and apple pie for me, assuming I have the time to make it the day before... and leave my husband the leftovers.

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  25. I have had some lovely train rides including a particularly memorable one in Switzerland. We went into a long tunnel and emerged right next to Lake Geneva. It was spectacular, and on time, of course!

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  26. Back when I was consulting at JP Morgan and later JPMorganChase I used to take Amtrak to Wilmington Delaware and back to New York City almost every week. It was relaxing and easy to work in both directions. I loved it.

    Now I'm contemplating taking the train after Bouchercon from St, Petersburg to Boca Raton to visit my sister-in-law. It's 4 1/2 hours but I figure I'll be able to relax and read. If I rent a car and drive it would be faster. Thinking...

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    1. Loved the albeit very short train ride I took from Fort Lauderdale to Boca.

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  27. I love the Eurostar. I've done London/Paris several times and highly recommended paying for first class if it's not something you are going to do on a regular basis. There's not a "dining car" but they do make you feel nicely pampered. I've also done Brussells/London. That was the year I was on book tour in Germany when the Icelandic volcano erupted. All flight were canceled and every rental car booked, but my lovely German publicist managed to get me the last seat on the train from Hamburg to Brussells, and then the Eurostar to London. That was a gorgeous trip. Unfortunately, I had the flu, but I still enjoyed watching the scenery.

    What I REALLY want to do is the Orient Express, Paris to Venice, at least one way. My photographer friend did it a few years ago and showed me all the photos--it was amazing!

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    1. Deborah,

      When I bought my ticket for Eurostar online, the website was not working and I wound up paying for the same ticket twice!!! This was in 2006.

      Can you buy a Eurostar ticket in person or does it have to be online?

      Diana

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  28. A few decades ago I took the train from Orange County, CA to Seattle. It was an overnight, I bought a sleeper compartment with bath and was comfortable. The train does sway a lot, but I got uses to it and slept until the stop in Oakland which was noisy. The scenery during daylight was great. But one way was enough, and in Seattle I turned in my return for cash, bought a plane ticket home and saved a lot of money; enough to pay for my stay in Seattle.

    Now I don't fly, so that's out. The entire TSA process is accusatory, demeaning, unpleasant and rude. If I can't drive, I don't go. I could take the train from Portland to Seattle, but upon arrival I need the car and have to rent one, so why not just drive in the first place?

    I looked into taking the train from here to Reno for LCC, but the route went through L.A. What? Don't these people have a map? So as I say, drive or stay home for me.

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    1. Just a quick word in support of the TSA agents... they're much less accusatory, demeaning, unpleasant, and rude than they used to be. I signed up for TSA pre-check a year ago and it makes getting through security a breeze. Relatively speaking.

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    2. I agree that TSA is not as bad as when it first started. I rarely have any issues going through security. Know the rules and don't take what is going to be confiscated and they whisk you right through.

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  29. Train, absolutely. Nothing like being rocked to sleep in your couchette, then waking up in a different country and heading down to the dining car for breakfast. I took the train from Mexicali to Mazatlan back in 1972 and they had all the old American train cars from the 1930s and '40s, and used white table cloths and that wonderful heavy flatware. The TGV in France is terrific too, for its vitesse.

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  30. Train trips are lovely, especially in Europe. The train brings you directly into the heart of a city.

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  32. I still love flying for the speed of getting cross-country quickly. I prefer driving if I have plenty of time, or there are multiple people going it really cuts down the cost. Amtrack takes too much time and is never on time in my experience. Relatives who ride the train always arrive late and we are hanging around the depot wasting time waiting. I won't take Greyhound...period. HAHA I love light rail and use it when visiting the big city.

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  33. Since our trains here in CA aren't that good, that leaves them out. Planes work for longer distances, but when I'm heading up to Northern CA, I drive. That gives me the freedom of having my car when I arrive, and by the time you arrive to the airport early, and travel to and from the airport, the travel time is about the same.

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  34. Almost two years ago for our anniversary, my husband and I took the train from St. Louis to Kansas City. Hubby got the business class seats, so it was nice and roomy. It was in October, and the fall colors were gorgeous, and we were along a river much of the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When Philip retires this summer, we might look at another trip. I have my eye on the Rocky Mountaineer through the Canadian Rockies.

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  35. We've got Amtrak's Coast Starlight trip (Seattle-Portland-Los Angeles) on our bucket list, as well as the Banff-Victoria Canada Rail trip. We enjoy visiting my husband's sister, who lives in Washington State, so these rail trips will make for a nice break from flying.

    The longest train ride I've taken thus far was R/T Trenton, NJ-Savannah, GA. Ah, the college years...the crazy things we do. One of my dearest friends was going to school in GA, so I traveled overnight (sleeping upright...no money for a sleeper car, even if one existed, which I don't think it did). He picked me up at the Savannah station, we had breakfast, and then we drove to Jacksonville Beach for his fraternity's spring break. I think I remember some of it. At any rate, there are photos for proof (that my mother has never seen and WILL never see).

    Did I mention I was also on a mission of mercy, carrying a frozen 6 lb Case's Pork Roll wrapped in aluminum foil and a bath towel (held like a baby) the whole way to Savannah? There are some foods you grow up with that you Simply. Must. Have. and only a true bestie will smuggle them onto a train for a 750-mile trip.

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    1. Case's Pork Roll?!? I had to look it up. Turns out these days you can buy it at Costco and Walmart and Sam's Club! We're talking HAM, right?

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    2. Hallie, you have inadvertently stumbled into New Jersey's Great Debate: In North Jersey, it's known as Taylor Ham (a different company, same product), Mercer County and south call it pork roll. There were originally at least three companies producing it, and all packaging calls it pork roll (Taylor, Case, and Trenton). As far as whether it's "ham" or not, I will only say that it's a "ham product." It may or may not be an acquired taste, but it's not as much a mystery meat as the Pennsylvania Dutch meat known as scrapple. Its name tells you its ingredients. You may (or may not) wish to sample that during your trip to Lancaster. I wouldn't. ;)

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    3. I like scrapple! And no, I don't want to know what's in it.
      So interesting about the "pork roll" - could have the makings of a culinary mystery novel.

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    4. I used to get the occasional craving for scrapple...before someone (*cough*hubby*cough*) ruined it for me by telling me what was in it. Some things are better left as mysteries.

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  36. Lovely post, and I feel like I've traveled with you!

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  37. Love taking the train and have done it many times, Ny/Boston and NY/DC. I went to Wiliamsbug VA on the train from NY, probably the longest train trip and a lifetime goal is to take an overnight trip. I've taken trains in Europe too - as short as London to Oxford and as long as the TGV ( high speed) from Paris to Avignon. Dating myself: first time in England, trains still had compartment doors opening to the platform, just like in the old movies.It was very exciting at the time! (And to be honest, still would be)

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  38. There's a reason JK Rowlings chose a TRAIN as the vehicle to take you to Hogwarts.

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  39. It doesn't require general consideration like planting, for example, and does not require the level of cost that, say, gathering sports autos or motorbikes includes.scale scenery

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