by Vincent Tarantella
We were going to see our son graduate his boot camp at a big Army base in southern Georgia. The party traveling was: my wife, my son's long-time girlfriend and myself. The two women each had major doubts about traveling via train and wanted to just fly down from our small north central Pennsylvania community and treat the journey as an afterthought. I was the life-long rail fan and train afficionado and insisted on taking Amtrak.
Amtrak is not just a transportation choice, it is a total feeling of a unique way of life. Some explain it as nostalgic, while I like to think it is the way modern living still should be today. Especially given the alternatives. The train becomes more exciting the longer you interact with it.
We elected to get the sleeper accommodations in the Viewliner cars. It's a great choice for one on one time with your significant other I might add. The seats face each other and conversation comes easily after a few miles of discovery and awe of the scenery adding to the conversation topics.
The car attendants add to the excitement of it too. Their polite interaction with passengers while they do their jobs making the room a bedroom or reverse is a nice attraction. They make the travelers feel well taken care of and important as they tend to your every whim and thirst.
The Dining Car is a real draw to train travel for me also. Eating a delicious meal while beautiful scenery and countryside slips past your window cannot be duplicated at 50,000 feet. The fact it is all still included in the (sleeper) ticket price is another little surprise that makes this mode of travel still unique in the big scheme of travel choices.
But I digress from our own journey. The initial trip on the Pennsylvanian was amazing and quick. This train is fast and Norfolk Southern lets the train have the main line over its busy freight trains. After Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the train is on Amtrak home rails and they hold nothing back letting it fly into Philadelphia.
The grandeur of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station cannot be overstated. You need to walk outside (if your layover allows) and look back at this station. Massive Roman pillars over 20 feet in diameter reaching skyward hundreds of feet holding up massive granite sculpture work. It is simply amazing to think that all of this was built hundreds of years ago with near bare hands and horses.
The Crescent left Philadelphia on time and gave us a nice long, exciting ride to Atlanta. The Sleeping Car Attendants on both our departing and return trips were very professional and polite. Atlanta came way too soon.
I wanted to stay onboard and continue the trip with the rest of the train and crew to it's home city of New Orleans. But we had a meet to make to see our son on his most important day of his life — the day he graduated Army boot camp.
Thank you Amtrak and your amazing system of equipment, employees, stations, track and attitude that keeps the passenger railroad system alive. I just wish you would travel to my hometown (Renovo, Pennsylvania) so that I could travel by rail a lot more frequently.