Riding Amtrak for fun?

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Have really enjoyed all the enthusiasms in this thread. I'm in Boston, and have taken the Downeaster on round trips a number of times, mostly for fun. In the early fall a few years ago, I took France's work group on a very successful day trip to Old Orchard Beach. I've also done day trips to Portland, Freeport and Brunswick. My only complaint is that people have discovered how affordable Downeaster business class is, so I have to reserve several weeks ahead to get seats, especially on a weekend. I've also enjoyed Albany runs and the odd NYC run, but I have to have a specific reason to do NYC because that's a fairly expensive RT ticket. They aren't losing any money on the NEC.

If anyone is ever in the Boston area, give me a shout and we can do a day trip. Doesn't have to be continuous conversation the whole time (which would annoy the neighbors anyway) just bring a laptop or a music machine and enjoy the countryside.

Now if they ever get their act together for a Rockland Maine run...
 
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I've ridden trains for almost 74 years. True, the first few was with my folks. Even in High School I took the old MoPac HOU-NOL to see my now wife of 54 years. I rode through the AMTRAK transition, and have watched the service, dining, and overall quality go into Ye Olde Porcelain Convenience. I rode AMTRAK every time I could when working for ABC, got yelled at and nearly was fired for insisting on AMTRAK instead of the El Cheapo flying cattle cars who rewarded my bosses with rakeoffs from the travel agencies.
Four years ago I took my grown daughter on the Eagle to Chicago and back. Big mistake. I now even mention AMTRAK and she her bags are packed and my Granddaughter in tow. We've made that trip a few times, and even a DAL-CHI-LAX-DAL trip all in a week. What fun!
Cut me and I bleed railroads (or Tesla). In spite of the FLEX c**p, a few inattentive or downright surly SCAs, exorbitant prices and the loss of favorite routes, I'll still ride trains until I cross the Rainbow Bridge - hopefully on a train.
To be fair, with the exception of FLEX, treating the Eagle like a rented mule, incomprehensible website and loss of the timetables, AMTRAK still works for me, has addressed my concerns after I have complained loudly enough, and stumbles on. It still beats airports and the TSA. Fortunately nowadays I really don't care if we are late arriving, but I do grouse a bit when the train is late arriving for me to entrain. We carry an electric cooler bag, a Keuring One Cup and our own snakebite remedy. It's the ONLY way to fly.
When the subject comes up, I try to advise folks of the good as well as the not so good, but entreat them to try it once. I've yet to have anyone who has followed my recommendation come back to yell at me. Come to think of it, so do folks who try to tell me how stupid I was to buy Teslas. There's a lot of FUDI out there.
This forum is chockers with folks of good intentions in general - that of enlightening folks about AMTRAK, and trying to drag AMTRAK kicking and screaming forward into the 20h Century (if we ever get there, then we'll work on the 21st). Keep up the good fight!
 
I will always look for an excuse to take the train! For me it is almost always just for fun, rather than convenience. My husband and adult children do not share my enthusiasm, so my trips are usually solo. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I have absolutely grown to appreciate the peace and solitude and the chance to just slooooow life down!
I live in RI and am also a big Disney fan, so taking the SS or SM to Kissimmee or Orlando is one of my favorite trips. You can imagine the looks I get when people hear the travel time compared to a flight! 😆
My son started school at Clemson this year, so I’m riding the Crescent for the first time in a couple of weeks to visit him. I also am planning a cross country solo trip and back once I collect enough points to do it in sleepers.
We are definitely a rare bunch, but those of us who get it know how fun it truly is!
I'm like you with finding an excuse for train travel. My wife like it ok, but I'm really gung-ho about it. Our daughter got married last July in Florida and we took a sleeper back and forth from CT. My wife at one point floated the idea of flying and I told her that I would still take the train.

i even take it on short trips like Meriden, CT to Milford, CT to visit my daughter and her husband or to Wallingford, CT ( a ten minute ride) to go to church some Sunday nights. Even for short trips train travel usually beats driving.
 
I'm like you with finding an excuse for train travel. My wife like it ok, but I'm really gung-ho about it. Our daughter got married last July in Florida and we took a sleeper back and forth from CT. My wife at one point floated the idea of flying and I told her that I would still take the train.

i even take it on short trips like Meriden, CT to Milford, CT to visit my daughter and her husband or to Wallingford, CT ( a ten minute ride) to go to church some Sunday nights. Even for short trips train travel usually beats driving.
The Clem(p)son depot is very close to campus and easy access. Also the stop is above the "Atlanta cutoff." Have a great trip, the delays beat driving I 85.
 
Many of my Amtrak trips had some purpose other than just riding trains. But I'm going to comment on three trips that were for pleasure only.

In January 2019, I rode the full routes of the Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, and Empire Builder. My wife likes train travel, but really wasn't interested in joining me. I had Bedroom A all the way (well, I had a Roomette Chicago-St. Paul), and stayed at nice hotels in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, (I stayed with my brother in Minnesota), Portland, and Bellingham. The main reason for this trip was that I had not ridden the Texas Eagle (although I had been on the Sunset Limited three times ).

In December, 2019, my wife and I spent a week at our favorite place, Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of O'ahu. On the way home, we flew into Los Angeles and took the Coast Starlight to Seattle. We had a Bedroom, and it was a refurbished Superliner I on the ocean side. The food and service were good, and it may be a while before my wife rides Amtrak again as Bedrooms are just too expensive nowadays.

In October 2020, I had bought tickets to attend the Amtrak Unlimited gathering in San Diego. Again, my wife wasn't joining me (unless I stayed at the Coronado and she spent the whole time getting spa treatments...). I had Roomettes on this trip for a change, but alas the whole thing was canceled due to COVID.

I try to enjoy all travel, but trains make it really special.
 
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Pretty much with me, I ride the train solely just to ride the train as well. For example, where I live, there isn't that many options for day trips other than going to Pittsburgh, going as far as Harrisburg and then going back in one day.

I grew up in Australia, where there was a lot of public transportation around me, and with me now living in the USA, there isn't that much of an opportunity where I live now. I take a trip to Pittsburgh every months just to ride the train, just because I love to ride it.

IMO, I would rather take the train than drive whenever possible.
 
Pretty much with me, I ride the train solely just to ride the train as well. For example, where I live, there isn't that many options for day trips other than going to Pittsburgh, going as far as Harrisburg and then going back in one day.

I grew up in Australia, where there was a lot of public transportation around me, and with me now living in the USA, there isn't that much of an opportunity where I live now. I take a trip to Pittsburgh every months just to ride the train, just because I love to ride it.

IMO, I would rather take the train than drive whenever possible.
I'm fortunate to be in a place where I can take Amtrak, CT Rail, and Metro North. To go see my daughter and son in law, I hop a CT Rail or Amtrak train to New Haven and then take Metro North to her place.
 
Another trip I did for fun as well as transportation was in 1985 when I was sent to Davenport IA to deal with the control system for a cement plant that was running amok. Since I didn't know how long I would be there I was flown out one way. Once the problem was resolved I elected to come back on the Broadway Limited from Chicago to Paoli PA, flying from Quad Cities to Chicago to get the train. A comfortable ride in a 10/6 Heritage sleeper and good food in the diner, the unforgettable ride around Horseshoe Curve. Definitely beat flying.
 
Have really enjoyed all the enthusiasms in this thread. I'm in Boston, and have taken the Downeaster on round trips a number of times, mostly for fun. In the early fall a few years ago, I took France's work group on a very successful day trip to Old Orchard Beach. I've also done day trips to Portland, Freeport and Brunswick. My only complaint is that people have discovered how affordable Downeaster business class is, so I have to reserve several weeks ahead to get seats, especially on a weekend. I've also enjoyed Albany runs and the odd NYC run, but I have to have a specific reason to do NYC because that's a fairly expensive RT ticket. They aren't losing any money on the NEC.

If anyone is ever in the Boston area, give me a shout and we can do a day trip. Doesn't have to be continuous conversation the whole time (which would annoy the neighbors anyway) just bring a laptop or a music machine and enjoy the countryside.

Now if they ever get their act together for a Rockland Maine run...
Fun? Yes..I write this as I ride a transfer bus from Janesville WI to Chicago to board the CZ to Glenwood springs for a 2 night stop then back to Chicago and WI. Just returned from Seattle on the EB 6 weeks ago. Next up in June ..New Orleans on the CONO
with my 3 grandkids. I do about 5 or 6 trips a year for fun. Almost 90k Amtrak miles over the years. WHOO HOO
 
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I'm fortunate to be in a place where I can take Amtrak, CT Rail, and Metro North. To go see my daughter and son in law, I hop a CT Rail or Amtrak train to New Haven and then take Metro North to her place.
You're lucky to have that access to rail transportation. I'm jealous hehe.

I sometimes watch the Springfrield railcam and watch CT Rail and the Valley Flyers and Hartford Line from there. That's so great that CT has that network of rail transportation there. I miss having that like I did in Australia. That's really cool that you take it to visit your daughter's family.
 
Well, this thread might allow me to say something I've bottled up for a while.
On several Amtrak or rail/transit communities, I often wonder why so many people complain about the minor inconveniences, or even the major inconveniences, of train travel. I understand why those things bother people--- short or long delays, overpriced cafe car food, uncomfortable or noisy coach cars...
But for me, the question is: 10 or 20 years from now, will I remember paying $6 for a soggy bagel, or will I remember what the snow-covered Cascades look like from the observation car of the Coast Starlight? Will I remember someone snoring in the seat in front of me, or will I remember crossing Lake Pontchartrain on the Crescent? Will I remember waiting in the Springfield station for a van, or will I remember Glenwood Canyon on the California Zephyr?
Obviously, adventure train travel isn't for everyone (there are financial and time and health constraints)---but in 30 days, I visited 34 states, probably more than many people see in their lifetime.
I tend to remember both, the great scenery and the goofy passenger I sat next to on one trip (was going LA to Chicago and thought Albuquerque may be Chicago/didn't want to be left in snack car as afraid she couldn't find her way back/etc). But I have only been on a few train rides so it's easier to remember the quirks. I'd say for the most part, Amtrak has given very good service. Some of the personnel on the Lake Shore Limited needed retraining but it didn't ruin either of my trips on that line. I also remember the great sleeping car attendants that I have been blessed to have.
 
I wonder if there is a tie between interest in defunct car models like Studebaker, and interest in trains. I am thinking of my roommate in college who was a big train fan and also owned a Golden Hawk '56 or '57 with 4 on the floor. Great fun to ride in. He and I also went on some train trips such as Lancaster/Paoli to New York returning on the National Limited so we could eat in the diner. He went on to acquire a couple more cars including an Avanti.
Not sure about classic cars, but there are quite a few serious hardcore bikers among my railroad friends.

And I guess the two hobbies are easy to combine as they like to use their motorcycles to get to locations to photograph trains.
 
I have used Amtrak as therapy when having a rough time. I have taken quite a few trips to just decompress from the stress of being a teacher.

One day I had a class that was giving me the business. I had had enough, and the usual practice of calling houses was not working. I work in the Chicago School system, and it is hard getting substitute teachers of any type.

I got so mad at this class that I told them I had 40 thousand AGR points and if they wanted me gone for a week I could do it. I was thinking rt on the Zephyr. This was back when you could get a sleeper to the West Coast for 20K points. One of the smart alecks said go ahead.

I pulled out my phone and called Amtrak AGR. Gave my AGR number. And asked if there was a roomette available on tomorrow's 5 going west from Chicago. That's when they realized I was serious. Several students pleaded that I stay and promised to behave. So I thanked the AGR agent and hung up. I was hot under the collar that day. But they behaved for two or three weeks after that.
 
I wonder if there is a tie between interest in defunct car models like Studebaker, and interest in trains. I am thinking of my roommate in college who was a big train fan and also owned a Golden Hawk '56 or '57 with 4 on the floor. Great fun to ride in. He and I also went on some train trips such as Lancaster/Paoli to New York returning on the National Limited so we could eat in the diner. He went on to acquire a couple more cars including an Avanti.
I am pretty sure that many fan's of period transport, spread that interest over all modes...land, sea, and air.
 
I have used Amtrak as therapy when having a rough time. I have taken quite a few trips to just decompress from the stress of being a teacher.

One day I had a class that was giving me the business. I had had enough, and the usual practice of calling houses was not working. I work in the Chicago School system, and it is hard getting substitute teachers of any type.

I got so mad at this class that I told them I had 40 thousand AGR points and if they wanted me gone for a week I could do it. I was thinking rt on the Zephyr. This was back when you could get a sleeper to the West Coast for 20K points. One of the smart alecks said go ahead.

I pulled out my phone and called Amtrak AGR. Gave my AGR number. And asked if there was a roomette available on tomorrow's 5 going west from Chicago. That's when they realized I was serious. Several students pleaded that I stay and promised to behave. So I thanked the AGR agent and hung up. I was hot under the collar that day. But they behaved for two or three weeks after that.
Teaching, along with Law Enforcement Jobs, are probably the 2 Hardest Professions to get enough qualified applicants when hiring!

And from what I've read on various sites, Railroad Jobs have also moved up the list when it comes to difficulties when trying to hire!

I always enjoy your trip reports, and salute you for being dedicated to such a vital job!😊
 
Teaching, along with Law Enforcement Jobs, are probably the 2 Hardest Professions to get enough qualified applicants when hiring!

And from what I've read on various sites, Railroad Jobs have also moved up the list when it comes to difficulties when trying to hire!

I always enjoy your trip reports, and salute you for being dedicated to such a vital job!😊
Thank you. I appreciate your support. I am now at a school where the administrators appreciate me. The students are good too. I am still exploring my next train ride.
 
This time it is my colleague. She has been on the warpath with everyone because her life is miserable. Hen peck hen peck hen peck. My retaliation is booking a trip on 8 from Seattle to Chicago on President's Day weekend. I got a decent fare on a roomette, 684, and a good fare on United Friday to Seattle.
See if she would like to share a BR or even the Family BR. Bring a jug, some snacks, a Kindle or a couple of books. The Family BR gives you each a window, plenty of room, and can be less expensive than a standard BR.

My daughter has a high pressure job at a local chain grocery store, night work, undependable help, a lot of issues. She was tuned about as tight as she would play, so I invited her on a DAL-CHI-DAL trip, her first AMTRAK ride ever. She's 48, I'm 76. We weren't 1500 feet out of the station when both of our phones rang - our respective employers. Nope. This is a vacation. Before we got out of the Dallas station limit, she looked at me over her wine glass and asked "When can we do this again?". We've made several trips since then, and have more planned. You can almost see the tension drain from her body as we get up to about Notch 3.
It's great therapy!
 
When we go long distance like to daughter's wedding, to visit son, or on business, I have the same feeling of having all of the tension from work draining out pretty soon after I board the train. No other transportation mode beats it.
Where else can you show up in semi pajamas (to the depot and board the night 98 in Kingstree) except on the train. Asleep and completely relaxed by Florence. At NYC in time for lunch at Train Hall. "Nothing could be finer."
 
See if she would like to share a BR or even the Family BR. Bring a jug, some snacks, a Kindle or a couple of books. The Family BR gives you each a window, plenty of room, and can be less expensive than a standard BR.

My daughter has a high pressure job at a local chain grocery store, night work, undependable help, a lot of issues. She was tuned about as tight as she would play, so I invited her on a DAL-CHI-DAL trip, her first AMTRAK ride ever. She's 48, I'm 76. We weren't 1500 feet out of the station when both of our phones rang - our respective employers. Nope. This is a vacation. Before we got out of the Dallas station limit, she looked at me over her wine glass and asked "When can we do this again?". We've made several trips since then, and have more planned. You can almost see the tension drain from her body as we get up to about Notch 3.
It's great therapy!
She would not make it to Edmonds. The door in the 830 sleeper would open and out she would go.
 
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