We get to the park and ride at 6:06 a.m. Wednesday, June 25. It costs nothing to park. Printing out tickets is a breeze – swipe your card, confirm, print. Departure is at 6:35 a.m. and it is ON TIME. Yay!
We sit in the café section of the Amtrak that has big open booths. My niece Paula sets up her iPod. I set up my laptop on the spacious table and plug it in – not wasting the battery. I’m on wireless so now I just have to get it working. When we begin to move, she looks around and takes it in, her eyes wide and that smile is just brewing. “This is amazing,” she says. I haven’t heard this 14-year old say much of anything with a 5 a.m. wake up call. We are in for a treat alright.
We get a hot chocolate and a couple of bananas – $3.50. Paula needs to take her medicine, so she wants something cold. As she opens her wallet getting ready to go to the service bar, a stout, silver-haired man takes root next to her. Thanks for inviting me to your party.
She looks at me, I look at her, “I’ll go up to get it for you.” I bring back our second mini-meal – an oversized blueberry muffin and an orange juice for $3.75.
“That muffin has 460 calories in it,” the man says, bagel and cream cheese flapping around in his open mouth. I’m stunned, not by the calories so much as him blurting out such a thing. So I flip it over and look, he’s right on the money. Thanks mister, I think.
‘Silver’ makes more small talk in the form of calories when he offers us his other half of the bagel. “It’s not like I couldn’t eat it though.” The whole calorie thing, I guess. We decline. Each time he talks, it’s a regular bagel and crème cheese mixer slopping around in front of me. Lucky me to have a front row seat.
“Nice talking to you ladies.”
“Have a great day, sir.” Now I can enjoy every bite of that 260-calorie half of my sweet and, yes, very tasty blueberry muffin.
I was surprised with the rest of the passengers. I expected a bunch of suits on their cells and laptops in their own world. There were a couple of those. But there was a mom and baby sitting peacefully and, I might add, quietly. There was a grandmother and granddaughter setting up for a college visit. There were three younger yuppie-likes talking shop and dressed in casual clothes with a day off. It was a good mix.
We were thrilled with the ride, the scenery and the convenience of it all. It had been many years since I hopped on a train and a first for Paula. The ride home was a bit more crowded but still we managed a seat in the café.
Amtrak offers service to all kinds of places. With airport travel going up and airlines charging for everything including baggage this was not only an expedient means for our day-and-a-half-trip but an enjoyable and scenic way to get to New York City. I’ve learned that driving in NYC is no fun.
For one adult ticket it was $81 one way. For a child under 15, it’s roughly half that. The hop, skip and jump to Aberdeen was a cinch!