Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Riding the train

The wife and I made a train trip yesterday, from Washington, DC to Cary, NC We like to ride trains. Son-in-law could not understand why we were willing to spend 6 1/2 hours on a trip when he could drive it in a little over 4 hours. Of course, when I ride with him, I am a total nervous wreck at the end. That boy thinks he is running a NASCAR race.

This was a short but fun trip. Daughter, who is at the Library of congress, had driven down to Chapel Hill to give a presentation at a conference. We drove back with her on Saturday. That son-in-law, who is on the Council of Economic Advisors, has an apartment on 15th st, very near the White House. While daughter took him to their townhouse in Columbia, MD for the weekend, we stayed in the apartment and roamed around doing some of the tourist things.

Tuesday morning we came into Union Station on her commuter train, arriving about 8:20. Our train didn't leave until 3:00, so we had lots of time for a leisurely breakfast, and then some roaming around. We visited the new capital visitors' center, which is impressive but rather crowded, with lots of school groups milling around, awaiting a tour.

More enjoyable were the Botanic Gardens, which are just in front of the capital. This is a WOW! well worth a second or even third visit.

We returned to Union Station about 1:00 for a late lunch in the Center Cafe, right in the middle of the great rotunda. Food was good, although not gourmet quality. But, the people watching made up for it. I like Union Station. It is a kaleidoscope of sizes, colors, costumes and languages. There are lots of weirdos in this world, and many come through Union Station.

I saw more men (and a few women) wearing suits and ties than I had seen in a long time. Around here, the only time one sees a suit is either a wedding, at church or in court. I decided that all the suits I was seeing had to be either lawyers, lobbyists or other such low-lifes. One thing about suits. They all carry a big briefcase. This must be a part of the uniform. As soon as they sit down, they immediately pull out a lap-top or a cell phone, or both. There must be something in the rules governing suits that requires they look busy and important at all times.

But I digress. Our train left, on time, at 3:00. The trip was delightful! We had lots of legroom to stretch out, doze, read, work crosswords, observe the scenery or watch people. One thing about train tracks--they don't go down Main Street. No, they go down the back alleys, so you get to see a lot of things you would never see otherwise. It may not be scenic, but it is very interesting. We saw areas of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina not before seen, and visited a couple of new cities (at least the stations)

We had reservations for 7:30 in the dining car. The wife and I searched our memories for the last time we had eaten in a dining car. We finally decided that it was either 1971 or 72, aboard the Super Tourist Train heading south from Taipei.
Anyway, the food was good, and reasonable in price; the wine was excellent and the coffee was hot and strong. Couldn't ask for more.

We stopped in Rocky Mount, Wilson, Selma, Raleigh and finally Cary, about 15 minutes late. We had left a vehicle at the station, so we only had some 23 miles to home. All in all, a most enjoyable trip which we hope to repeat soon.

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