Fifteen routes pass through New York's Penn Station, the most of any station on the Amtrak system.
by Michael Smutko
As the father of two boys, I have always enjoyed trains and train travel and have shared my passion with them. Traveling with children on our annual Christmas trip from Clearwater to New York on the Silver Star was a great introduction.
From 1994 until 1996 we traveled by train to visit my parents for the holidays. A few days before Christmas my wife and I would bring the boys to the old Clearwater Station and catch the bus to Tampa's Union Station.
We were all filled with excitement for the trip ahead. There we boarded our sleeper bound for New York. These were the older Heritage Class cars that had the 1950's style that we just loved. We always traveled in the room that had the large sofa and bathroom. We all sat on the sofa and couldn't wait for the trip to begin.
Once under way, I proceeded to attach a string of battery powered Christmas lights onto our window in the shape of a Christmas tree for all to see. The colors of the lights and the scenery moving past was a show that the boys will never forget.
Waking up to snow on the ground in the Carolinas had the boys noses to the cold windows, watching the winter wonderland pass by. Breakfast in the Dining Car was a treat that we all looked forward to, as well as lunch and dinner. During the trip many a story was told, cards and checkers played and walks to the lounge car for refreshments and snacks.
Pulling into Penn Station the following evening had us sad that the train trip was over, but now our visit with Grandma and Grandpa and Christmas celebration was about to begin.
This was a special time for our family. Traveling with children is a time of bonding with our sons that we will treasure forever.