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The Big Apple: A lifelong dream come true

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TylerP42

Conductor
Joined
May 22, 2015
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1,202
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Speedway, Indiana
It's been awhile since I went - January, in fact, but I've decided to post about my adventure to New York City to the OTOL NYC Railfest. (this happened in the past - I'd just rather not dump all the info at once)

Obviously, there are parts that I have totally forgotten. I apologize, I haven't felt very compelled to write lately.

It was a nice morning, usually when I arrive at Toledo's Amtrak Station, I am traveling west, towards Chicago. This day, was different. For the first time, I was going to ride the Lake Shore Limited east - not only that, but I was going to fulfill my lifetime dream of going to New York City. The whole month before it, I was fantasizing about how amazing it will be, the skyscrapers, the people, the trains, the life, the culture, everything. It was all a dream... and the dream was coming true.

I stepped onto the sleeper car, and was greeted by my SCA, Lala. Little did I know she would become an amazing friend. It was very early (3AM to be exact), so I decided to head to bed. I woke up around 7AM, and headed off to the diner. I enjoyed breakfast, unfortunately by myself, but I was greeted by my favorite dining car staff. At this point, I started to get nervous. Not because I felt unsafe in New York City, because I was meeting Shanghai there, but because I was just nervous. I couldn't figure out why.

As we drew closer, we got to Albany/Rennselaer. We stopped, and for the first time I started to chat with Lala. I got out, to see what locomotive we'd get for the trip. Turns out, it was 704, freshly repainted. I was taking photos, and Lala started asking why I was taking photos. I explained to her my hobby, and why I enjoy trains. I talked to her about how I advocate for them and enjoy talking about them. She thought it was very cool. We talked a bit more, and I went back in after awhile.

As we drew closer to New York City, I started chatting with Lala, telling her that I was nervous for some reason. She explained that while she likes New York City, usually she's supposed to be going to Boston, and she likes it there better. She chatted with me a bit, and it helped with the nervousness.

As I was getting off, I exchanged my social media with her so we could stay in touch. And at that point, I was there. New York City, mind you, underground, I had not seen any of it yet other than the platforms of Penn Station, but I was there. I finally made it. My lifelong dream, was coming true.

I stood for a bit, letting it all sink in. But there wasn't time for that. I started getting bumped into. Time to head to ClubAcela.

To be Continued...
 
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Manny T

OBS Chief
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Jun 7, 2015
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508
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Chicago IL
When I lived in NYC there was a time when I commuted for work to L.I. out of Penn Station daily; hence I got to know that labyrinth of corridors and mazes like the palm of my hand. Now when I arrive in NYC via the LSL, it doesn't matter what escalator I use to ascend from the platforms, I can find my way out of Penn with my eyes closed.

I used to think Penn Station was the worst possible introduction to NYC for visitors, crowded, poorly signed, full of fast food and chaos etc. Now I think it's the best possible introduction, a. It's just like the rest of NYC, and b. after leaving Penn Station, the rest of New York doesn't seem so crowded!
 

SarahZ

Conductor
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May 8, 2011
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KAL
I wonder if it's the same Lala who was my SCA on the CONO a couple years ago. (I can't imagine that name is very common.) She was absolutely incredible.
 

Manny T

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
508
Location
Chicago IL
Sorry I can't resist sharing this first person account of a trip through Penn Station I found on some Consumer Affairs website:

When I arrived in Penn Station, however, this is where all the trouble began. It was my first time traveling alone and my first time riding the train at all. I asked at least 10 or more people in that station where to find the Amtrak section of the station so I could locate my track number on the kiosks. Not a single person could offer me an answer. I got lost and took the wrong escalator, leading me down to the train boarding area. When I asked two men in uniform below if they could direct me to my appropriate area, they coldly brushed me off and muttered "We have nothing to do with that company." Needless to say, I missed my train. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just go to the ticket counter and ask someone there for help. Maybe there would be someone there who had just a little humanity left within them that could actually help me." Wrong.

The woman at the ticket counter laughed hysterically in my face when I explained my situation to her. I proceeded to ask what she found so humorous and she continued laughing obnoxiously and said under her breath "Same ** different day." Ha! It took everything I had within me to politely retrieve my ticket from her that she finally waived the fee of after her cacophony of laughter. Finally I meet a really kind man who was actually willing to walk me to my boarding area. If not for him, I'm not sure I would've ever made it to my next train.
 

TylerP42

Conductor
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
1,202
Location
Speedway, Indiana
So I walked to Club Acela, met Shanghai and we greeted eachother. We talked for a bit, and I saw a nice woman sitting next to him, I shook her hand, as it was the hand of our very own, PennyK. It was nice to finally meet her in person.

We talked for a bit, and I tried to explain to them how excited I was for 704, but it flew right over their heads. We then talked about dinner. We decided on Mustang Herry's, and we walked out of the club.

The first thing I noticed was the hustle and bustle, but I've been in Chicago Union Station during morning hours, so it wasn't to much for me to handle or see. I did notice though, that people huddled around the giant Departure Boardand waited for tracks to get announced, and when they did there was a mad rush to the tracks. (I honestly found that quite hilarious).

We finally walked out of the station. The smell of car fumes, food, people, and urine filled my lungs. A smell, that honestly, doesn't even exist in Chicago. It's like a smell of New York. It's impossible to fully describe unless you've been there, honestly. Anyways, we kept walking and I kept looking around to see everything. The giant Madison Square Garden caught my eye, but we kept walking.

We had a nice dinner at Mustang Harry's, I honestly do not remember what I ate though. Maybe PennyK or Shanghai can remember, but I don't. After a nice dinner (I was watching the hockey game between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils as well), Shanghai and I parted ways with Penny. After which, Shanghai and I walked to our hotel, which was the DoubleTree Chelsea.

When we got there, one of the things I noticed was that most stores are only visible in the day, hidden at night by roll down garage like doors. If you were to walk down some streets in NYC at night, you may think they are abandoned, but no, during the day the garage doors come up and it is a hustle and bustle.

I also noticed the hotel was very... skinny. Only about 6 hotel rooms per floor, and each room was frankly pretty small. It was nice though, a great hotel with very nice beds. After we got settled, I went downstairs to grab some food later that night, as I had some munchies. I went to go buy some fries, which ran me 6 dollars. I asked the person at the bar if this was normal, and he responded with

"Welcome to New York City".

To be continued...
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
21,272
Location
Austin Texas
Interesting trip Tyler and you are getting to share it with two great people!

As for the $6 Fries, check out what it would cost you @ Yankee Stadium or in one of the trendy joints!

The Big Apple, it's a World unto itself!
 

GG-1

Conductor
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Feb 1, 2004
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7,080
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Las Vegas, NV
We finally walked out of the station. The smell of car fumes, food, people, and urine filled my lungs. A smell, that honestly, doesn't even exist in Chicago. It's like a smell of New York. It's impossible to fully describe unless you've been there, honestly. Anyways, we kept walking and I kept looking around to see everything. The giant Madison Square Garden caught my eye, but we kept walking.
Aloha

Hope you get to visit Madison Square Garden as as an arena it is on a scale that is impressive. Remember it was built over a working train station and the arena floor is, as best I remember on the 6th floor of the building. the crews and facilities are so good the can go from Ice to basketball to a concert in a day.
 

TylerP42

Conductor
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
1,202
Location
Speedway, Indiana
We finally walked out of the station. The smell of car fumes, food, people, and urine filled my lungs. A smell, that honestly, doesn't even exist in Chicago. It's like a smell of New York. It's impossible to fully describe unless you've been there, honestly. Anyways, we kept walking and I kept looking around to see everything. The giant Madison Square Garden caught my eye, but we kept walking.
Aloha

Hope you get to visit Madison Square Garden as as an arena it is on a scale that is impressive. Remember it was built over a working train station and the arena floor is, as best I remember on the 6th floor of the building. the crews and facilities are so good the can go from Ice to basketball to a concert in a day.
This trip was taken in January, I just got around to posting about it.
 
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