Taking its name from the predecessor train that ran its same route, the Capitol Limited travels daily from the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. to Chicago.
by Jake Schmidlapp
After going down on a red-eye bus to Washington, DC, to visit family with a friend, 4:00 struck and I was to board the westbound Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh. Upon reaching my sleeping berth, Room 12 in "Utah," I settled into my seat to enjoy the scenery that was the US Capitol as we rolled out of the station.
I have done this leg on the train many, many times as the views, senses and experiences never get old, and in my opinion, must be relived time and time again. I got a good leg stretch on my walk back to the coach where my friend was, not being aware of the availability our room. Upon returning to the room, the friendly conductor introduced himself as he scanned our tickets, although his name slips my mind.
A while later, my friend and I were walking back through the Lounge Car and we were passed by our Lead Service Attendant (who I had seen may times before), when my friend asked if she worked on the train (being in full Amtrak uniform), to which she and I had a good laugh at the ridiculous comment.
The public address system crackled to life as Octavia, the same LSA as before, announced that she had opened the snack bar and reminded us that the ice was indeed free. Remembering the voice, I flew down to the snack bar to reunite with the person who almost single-handedly brings me back aboard the train. Almost immediately a line formed all the way up to the upper floor, all people waiting to be entertained and experience the great vibes of her snack bar. I got a couple of drinks for the room, and as everyone on the lower floor of the car was smiling and laughing, I returned back to "Utah."
For a majority of the evening, my friend and I sat in the Observation Car absorbing the great views that were provided, not only by the floor to ceiling glass, but by the great path that the train took through the mountains. After a while, the 6:00 dinner reservation was called, and we went to the Dining Car, and were paired with another group, a husband and wife, also returning to Pittsburgh.
The food on the train was delicious, to put it mildly. The steak was cooked to perfection, seasoned to my taste (without any intervention by myself) and still piping hot from the ovens. As dessert passed on (the cream puff is spectacular), I asked one of the servers exactly how many chefs were down creating our meals. Apparently there were only three — the chef, the sous chef, and a trainee — who were in charge of making sure the guests upstairs had the best rolling meal on the eastern seaboard.
I have to say, that in such a society where time is critical and a good portion of travelers choose to fly or drive, the train is still the best way of traveling, and Amtrak and its employees keep rail travel in the top spot, not for speed, but for socialization, comfort, and the overall experiences that can only be obtained through taking time and relaxing on rails. I am also appreciative of all the named and unnamed staff and crew of Amtrak and the Capitol Limited, both in sight and behind the scenes, who provide such great hospitality and comfort that seems to be next to foreign in today's society, that those crew members take pride and just have fun in their jobs, and that their happiness is spread among all of us that have the pleasure of meeting them.