transit day - amtrak

We're out of New York. We had one last morning rush-hour subway ride, this time with luggage. One of the best things about starting as far out in Queens as we did is that the trains weren't packed when they got to our stop. They were, however, full enough that it wasn't easy to get a seat, especially with a suitcase, backpack, and camera bag. That's when the bad part of being so far out in Queens showed up - it was a long ride in to Manhattan.

After spending the time we did in the city, I think we're ready to move on. Looking back, maybe we should have done a few things differently. Maybe we should have walked less and rode buses more. Maybe we should have eaten at more little off-the-path restaurants more than the chain places we can get back in Denver. (This is probably my biggest regret, although we did have cards that took $40 off of any meal at Planet Hollywood once a day. It's hard to pass up dinner for four for less than $10/person after tip in NY.) Maybe we should have brought an umbrella, or maybe we should have not relied so much on weather and learned to remember that, when leaving at eight in the morning and planning on coming back after nine at night, it might require a few different layers of clothes. Maybe we should have spent more time in Central Park and Greenwich Village and less time in Times Square.

We did get lucky in that both times we planned to go up the Empire State Building, it was nice. We had perfect weather the first and last days, which was the way I would want it. We seem to remember the ends of a trip more so than the middle. I think we probably spent too much time commuting in and out of the city from our hotel. In the evenings, it wasn't bad except for being tired from the day. In the morning, the express subway track lines that we started on would soon back up enough with the volume of trains that we would come to a complete stop in the middle of a tunnel.

We just passed through Bridgeport, Connecticut. I'm writing this on an Amtrak regional train up to Boston. We left out of Penn Station, beneath Madison Square Garden this morning, and we'll get to Boston in roughly four and half hours. Originally, we had discussed renting a car and spending a day driving around though several states.

We made the right choice. Compared to flying, train travel is easy. There is no security to pass through. We're on a regional train with large overhead storage, meaning we don't check any bags. We just threw our luggage and back packs over our head. No x-ray machines. No long lines full of people taking off shoes and belts. No taxi time and safety briefing. No aisles small enough that two people can't pass each other.

After getting to the station an hour an half early because we didn't have any idea how long it would take to check in, we had our tickets within five minutes. We boarded the train five minutes before it left - no assigned cramped seats. We're in coach and both Mike and I have a little room to stretch our legs out (me more than him - those extra 4 inches aren't always great to have with you I guess). We just selected a group of 4 open seats in a row and say down. We brought water, sandwiches, and everything else on board without the scrutiny of some stranger trying to figure out why your camera bag has four different battery chargers, three cameras, to lenses, and one funny looking tripod.

For cross country travel (or travel from Denver), flying is still the way to go. There is no way to match the time and ease with which a plane cruises around 600 mph for a long trip. But we also had the option of flying on this leg of the journey. We would have had to check in an hour early, fly up, and wait for our bags on the other end. I wouldn't be sitting on a plane, typing on a laptop with a plug-in connection next to me. I wouldn't be seeing the scenery or the three other members of my traveling group sleeping so peacefully. (Immediately after we boarded, Sarah and Rhiannon demanded their sandwiches - when they finished, they were still hungry, so they decided to sleep to pass the time - I don't even question these things any more). In one ten minute stretch on Long Island, I saw at least 75 wifi networks.

Overall, I think we've made more good decisions than bad and I'm happy with how things are going. Between this trip and going to Mexico, we're getting a big taste of tourist lifestyle. We do our best to get off the path once in a while, but at the same time, companies spend lots of money trying to entertain and lure customers in, and if they do a good job of it, it can be a lot of fun.

We're also going into Boston with out much of an itinerary. Mike has some serious sax playing ahead of him. The Celtics won the championship last night, so there is a victory parade tomorrow. We were cheering for the Lakers to win Game 6 and force a Game 7 that we could go outside the Garden and hang out with the crowd, but the parade will have to do. We know there is some great history to be seen and things to do, but we might slow down a little. I'd hate to get home and feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. I do realize that we aren't doing as much "nothing by the beach" as we did in Mexico, but that was expected.

That being said, I'm going to spend a little time looking out the window and enjoying the ride. Have a good one.

Addition: [Yeah - I wrote this early on the train. Immediately upon finishing it, I fell asleep. I guess I was a little tired. I meant to have pictures up with it from our train ride, but we're getting up early tomorrow morning to see the Celtics victory parade. We do have free internet (in the hotel lobby), so at least that's something.]