My first post vaccination Amtrak trip -- where to?

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Bob Dylan

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As far as I am concerned, unless the country somehow manages to descend into a complete new outbreak chaos by October, I am planning to make the Gathering trip irrespective of whether there is a Gathering or not.

It is now starting to also look more and more like about the time when the booster shot also comes about, specially if the South Africaqn and Brazilian and the Indian variants show up in large numbers and manage to elude the current vaccine generated immunity somewhat.
My only concern is that if we have a Fall Spike, too many will still want to do "their thing", and even with a Booster shot, the Variants seem to be staying ahead of the Vaccines in lots of places.

Otherwise, if Chicago is "Open" and the Country is "Safer", I plan to be there too!
 

Lenquixote66

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I should point out that I took a joyride to New York last August and one to Philly last October (virtual Gathering). I've also taken two trips to Washington to see one of my doctors. All of these done before I was vaccinated. While I was cautious, I didn't feel too concerned. The trains were empty, everyone was wearing masks, and what eating I was doing, I was doing it outside.

I am now leaning on heading to New York in the coming week, the weather forecast looks good. I still haven't decided whether I want to check out Staten Island of Coney Island.
Coney is a lot better
 
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I leave for Mystic, CT, tomorrow morning!

I’m having mixed emotions—excitement at going on a trip after a year, but also a slight panicky feeling at going out into the world after a year.

That’s why I chose Mystic as my first trip—it has always been my place to de-stress and relax, and I know the town so there will be no surprises.

My first step is the light rail from my town to TRE to get Amtrak, and I see there is an announcement that NJT police and emergency vehicles are doing training exercises at the originating stop tomorrow morning. Hopefully they will not hold up the trains.

After I make the very short trip on the light rail (the weakest reliability link in the chain, especially on weekends), the rest should be clear sailing.

There is an evening train I could take if something went wrong in the morning, but it gets there very late.
 
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Well I made it to Mystic! I know I promised an update late this afternoon, but I got distracted by everything around me.

So, train stuff first. The light rail showed up on time. It was busier than I expected, but everyone was wearing masks and it’s a very short trip—about 10 minutes.

At the Trenton train station, the NJT windows were open, and people were in line to buy tickets. I don’t know about Amtrak—I did not walk in that direction.

The rest of the station where I was walking was empty. Auntie Annie’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are both closed, with caution tape in front of them. The seating areas are covered in plastic and also have caution tape.

Except for a few passengers, all heading to the platform, there was nobody in there. On the platform, the waiting room is padlocked.

It sounds spooky, but actually it wasn’t.

I was on Amtrak train 164, and it arrived a few minutes early! The whole trip was like that—either a little early or on time at every station—even more impressive considering it was a super local!

It even stopped at Princeton Junction, where I had a nostalgic view of the parking lot that I used to walk across every day on my way to the office before the pandemic convinced me that I really wanted to retire after all!

The train was very clean, the crew superb—efficient and pleasant. I went BC and had chosen seat 10F because one of our expert AU riders said it was his favorite, and I was impressed—nice wide window and smooth ride.

It felt like more than 50 percent capacity—has Amtrak brought it up to not full but still more than 50 percent?

There were the empty aisle seats still, but every row could have someone in it. Someone a few rows behind me had a cough that didn’t sound good. So even with the masks, I’m not completely comfortable about the trains yet.

It was lovely to see the water in Connecticut and the boats out and the people on the little beach. Heck, after a year on my street and not much farther than my town, it was even lovely to see North Jersey!😁

Take a break if your eyes are glazing over. Mystic soon in another post.
 
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Detrained at Mystic to a sunny gorgeous day—not too warm, not too cold—looking forward to my quiet getaway in my favorite quiet town, although I expected it to be busy because it is Saturday.

It was really busy! Some restrictions were just lifted in CT, and people were out enjoying more freedom and the good weather.

I checked in at my inn—the Steamboat Inn—a real splurge, but somewhere I had always wanted to stay at least once, and since I haven’t spent any travel money for a year, figured this was the time to do it!

My room is on the river, and the boats were out in full force! Everything from kayaks to a tourist party boat. (By the way, at New London I was lucky enough to see one of the ferries just departing!)

It’s been a busy day so I’ll leave the exploring for tomorrow and will let you know what I find.
 
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Today was my train day. Not planned—it just happened.

I went for an early morning walk and decided to take the back roads to the train station. It was just a walking destination, and I hadn’t looked up any train times. But just as I arrived, locomotive no. 604 went by at the head of a northeast regional!

Later in the morning, I went out for a couple of short walks after breakfast, but I am having some reentry anxiety—I was never good with lots of people rushing towards me (that’s why I can’t go to NYC), and after not seeing groups of people for a year, that is magnified. So both last evening and this midmorning, the tourists were out in force on the sidewalks and my legs felt wobbly and my heart was racing. I knew something like that might happen, which is why I chose Mystic (usually my place to go to unwind and relax) as my first getaway trip. I have to make myself get out among people or it will just get worse.

However, I was fine walking to the train station on the quieter roads.

So I decided to go over there for lunch—I wanted to give them business anyway. It’s still Mystic Depot Roasters, and they came through this past year and are still in business. Energetic, friendly, cheerful, and helpful young people, with I believe some older more experienced people guiding them behind the scenes. I sat outside and had the most delicious veggie omelet, then I got a salad to go for dinner later.

Oh yes, back to my train day. On my way to lunch (hadn’t looked at train times then either), I was just about at the station when a long northbound northeast regional (I think locomotive no. 609, but I couldn’t see clearly that far) stopped at the station!

In other Mystic news, the Argia (a day sail boat) starts and ends its trips pretty much under my window. I went out in it years ago for a several-hour sail, but it’s very interesting to see how they clean up from one trip and prepare for the next one.

Finally, I noticed that many of the stores and restaurants that were here before the pandemic are still open, which I was glad to see.

Tomorrow should be a much quieter day, so I’ll try to do my usual walks in town and along the river.

Maybe eat lunch at an outside place in town.

Tonight is Phillies and Mets on ESPN, so I will feel right at home!
 
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Lazy morning in Mystic. Woke up to find the Phillies blew it after I turned the game off because it was getting late.

I walked over to the train station and had a lovely breakfast—scrambled eggs with herbs, plus potatoes. No train appeared through breakfast, and as I finished I was just thinking my luck had run out. Then I heard “Train approaching” and the gate came down and a southbound northeast regional went through, led by locomotive no. 608!

I think it might have been 608 instead of 609 that I saw going northbound yesterday—the last number wasn’t clear from a distance. Perhaps it hung out with its friends overnight in Boston.

Around 9:30 I consoled myself for the Phillies loss with Second Breakfast. This was at my inn. It’s small, but free if you decide to have it, so I had French toast, which is really like dessert.

The day sail boat didn’t go out today, and from my window I can see why. Monday must be the day they clean the boat. I mean clean! Scraping, scrubbing, touch up repainting—inch by inch over the whole boat—if only Amtrak cleaned the trains like this!

Going out to look for a healthy lunch now. Or maybe Third Breakfast!
 

Dakota 400

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so I had French toast, which is really like dessert.
Enjoying your report. Mystic is a destination that has been on my list for years.

I accessed your Inn's website and was impressed with what I learned. The photos of their breakfasts offered looked delicious.

I was unclear what the parking situation was for the Inn. Are you able to provide any information about that?
 
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Thank you!

I’m pretty impressed myself—usually I am looking at the river for free from the public park on the other side! But after this year, it was time for a real splurge!

Because I came by train, I had to call them and ask how to get in by walking! (There’s a side alley down to it from Main Street for walkers.)

There are driving directions on the website, but they do seem a bit confusing. From going for walks, I’ve seen where the parking lot entrance is and it’s easier than it sounds.

If you’re coming in on Main Street, you turn onto Water Street (on the right if you’re going north, left if you’re going south). There’s a bookstore on one corner and a bank on the other, and Mystic Pizza is across the street. Right after you pass the Sift Bakery and a pizza place (I think it’s called Pizzetta) on the left, there’s a sign that says Mystic Museum of Art on the left. That’s also the parking entrance for the inn—it’s a little yellow hut that is the same color as the inn.

(I know places can go out of business, but all the ones I’ve mentioned have been there for ages and seem to be doing well, so they should still be there as landmarks if you come.)

The inn is at the other end from where you drive in, tucked in the lefthand corner of the parking lot —a long yellow building.

I came this week because I wanted to travel before the trains go back to full capacity. But my favorite time to visit Mystic is the fall—it’s still warm, but the summer tourists are gone.

I hope you get a chance to visit—it’s a lovely town!
 
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Winding down my first post-vaccination trip. I go home from Mystic tomorrow. Just dithered today—a few walks, went over to the train station and watched an Acela go by, had fish and chips at the same place I ate yesterday.

This was the right place to come for a first trip after a year. I took lots of walks and made myself talk to people. The reentry anxiety level has gone way down—it still pops up sometimes, but it’s not steady and frightening like it was.

I leave tomorrow late morning and will get back home midafternoon. Not sure when I’ll be back here because I don’t want to take the train when they open all seats for sale and before the pandemic is completely over. But I do want to come back.

By the way, a bit of trivia—the bascule bridge that opens to let boats go through opens once an hour from May through October, or at a ship’s request. It is on Main Street, but Main Street is also Route 1, from Maine to Florida. Rumor is that you could have the smoothest drive the whole rest of the way, but you’re bound to get stuck in a backup in Mystic because the bridge is sure to go up just as you get to it!😁

I realized after the first couple of posts that I really should have made this a separate trip report thread, but then it seemed too late—I didn’t mean to hog the thread. Thanks to all of you who came along with me and patiently read everything—it was good to have your company!😊

Someone else’s turn now.
 
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I am going to Alexandria, Virginia, for a few days next week, and I have a question about walking from the train station.

I used to walk down the ramp from the station, turn right and walk under the bridge, then right again into the Metro parking lot. Then through the parking lot to cross the street at the light (basically where the Embassy Suites is).

That avoided a lot of trying to cross the busier roads and seemed safer for pedestrians.

However, last time I was there (over a year ago), they were doing construction and had everything blocked off.

Has anyone been there recently and know if construction is finished and/or if it’s still possible to do that route through the parking lot?

Thanks, as always, for any and all information.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I am going to Alexandria, Virginia, for a few days next week, and I have a question about walking from the train station.

I used to walk down the ramp from the station, turn right and walk under the bridge, then right again into the Metro parking lot. Then through the parking lot to cross the street at the light (basically where the Embassy Suites is).

That avoided a lot of trying to cross the busier roads and seemed safer for pedestrians.

However, last time I was there (over a year ago), they were doing construction and had everything blocked off.

Has anyone been there recently and know if construction is finished and/or if it’s still possible to do that route through the parking lot?

Thanks, as always, for any and all information.
You might want to start a new thread with this question. People with knowledge may not see it in this thread. ;)
 
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