Category: 2008 – Boston

Final Thoughts & Observations

These might seem random, but here are some thought I have had concerning this trip and traveling in general…

1. When visiting another city, I like to not look like a tourist. I like to use public train systems to get around. I like to be prepared and know where I am going so I don’t look lost. I even enjoyed a little bit when we were JAM PACKED into a subway train. I like to feel like I have moved into town and sorta get the feeling I live there. This was what we did in Boston. It is weird, living in a place like Boston and not having a car and using a great public transit system for all transportation is attractive to me. Maybe it would get old after a while, but it still attracts me.

2. I was moved by the Red Sox game. I have only been to Astro’s games and one Rangers game. The atmosphere and fans are nothing like Fenway. The fans are into the game so much they feel they can effect the outcome. Tradition is big there. It was really cool.

3. Traveling by train can be an adventure. This was our first trip that did not go as planned. We had two bus rides and a very long trip home. What was suppose to be a 24 hour train took 37 hours. You have to be prepared to go with the flow. I still think we need more rail options in the US. Flying used to be fun, now it is a nightmare. The ONLY thing flying has over trains is the speed. For me, I would rather take longer on the train and make the transportation a PART of the trip, rather than fly and have it be just a necessary annoyance to get to your destination.

4. I struggle with knowing how to fully appreciate where I am. I was in Boston and I wanted to really just sit back and appreciate that, but I am not sure how. I find it frustrating. I want to "take in" Boston but it is more than just seeing places or doing things. Not only do I not know how to do it, I don’t even know how to xplain what I am talking about!

5. Since returning home, I have been fighting post trip depression. All I want to do right now is get back on a train and go somewhere I have never been before. I love traveling. I love seeing places I have never seen. I love going places I have read about or seen on TV. It is hard to think about waiting until next year for another trip and not even knowing if there will be money for a trip next year. Now let me be clear, I am very thankful for what we have gotten to do. I give all the credit to God for providing us with these traveling opportunities. I pray that we will get more.

That is all for now. Thanks for sharing in our journey. Hopefully there will be more and you will join us again. If anyone is interested in trying out Amtrak let me know. I would be happy to help you out and give you all the information you would need.

I have posted a trip report on a Amtrak forum I am a part of. It deals with just the train parts but has a lot more train details than I posted here. If you would like to ready it you can see it HERE .

Boston to Albany to Chicago to Lamy

The train from Boston to Albany was canceled due to track work being done. Amtrak provided a bus instead. Our bus ride from Boston to Albany took only 2.5 hours where the train takes 5 hours. So we had four hours to kill at the Albany station. Nice place, not much to do other than watch trains come and go which is fine by me. Here is a picture of Stephen next to the train called the Adirondeck.

It goes from Montreal to New York so there were a bunch of people speaking French around.

Our train, #49 the Lakeshore Limited (LSL) was right on time and we boarded our sleeper. Again, this is a single level train.

One interesting train related note, whenever a train comes into Albany and is headed to New York city, the replace the diesel engines on the train with a special diesel engine that can also run on a third rail electric. That way it can run in the undergrounds leading to New York’s Penn station. This is a picture of them hooking the normal diesels onto our train after taking the special one off (since our train came from NY).

Dining services are more limited on this train than others we have been on. It used to have a full service dining car, but all of Amtrak’s single level dining cars are over 50 years old and they are having trouble keeping them in service. They have not had the full service dining on the LSL for quite a while and are using a special car that is not that great for food service. However, the crews are dealing well with it and we had fantastic crews.

Our train ride was great and we arrived into Chicago about an hour late. We checked our bags into the first class lounge and headed out to the Sears Tower.

Great view, but costs way too much. Oh well, we can say we did it. While waiting in line to come down, I got a message from Amtrak, our next train has been canceled and there is not alternate transportation provided. I think Vicky thought I was about to pass out while listening to that message. We headed straight back to the station. They told us there that we need to hang tight, things were still up in the air.

I was on the internet looking at flights and possible one way car rentals. After I could not take the waiting anymore, I called Amtrak’s 1-800 number. After some checking, they informed me the train will be running on an alternate route and our destination will be served.

Wow, did God ever answer my prayers. We could finally relax and had a couple of hours before departure.

We ran down the street to the famous Giordano’s Pizza and had a small Chicago deep dish. It was good, but I think I prefer little thinner pizzas.

After returning to the station, we boarded our train about 2:45. This is train #3 the Southwest Chief. It is a Superliner train so doubledecker cars. Our rooms are across the hall from each other in the middle of the upper level.

Our train usually goes straight to Kansas City through Illinois and Iowa, but instead we headed South and went to St Louis. We pulled in to St Louis around 9:30 and it was cool to see the arch and downtown. I don’t think I have ever been there so it was nice getting to go somewhere new. After St Louis, we headed to KC. The normal schedule shows leaving KC at 10:55 PM, but we pulled out around 5:30 AM so we were running around 6 hours late because of the detour. Let me just say that I do not care. Since we are on this train and are not worrying about any connections, it can be as late as it wants. More time on the train!

We passed through Hutchinson, Ks at 10:30 AM. First time I have seen this town in the daylight. Here is a pic (a couple of people will understand the significance of this town).

By the time we stopped in La Junta for a chance to step off the train, we were about 7.5 hours behind schedule. Before we got to the Raton pass, our lead engine went bad so they stopped us to wait for another one. While we were waiting the second unit shut down. They finally got a freight unit hooked up and we pulled out of Trinidad at 8:30 pm, 11 hours late. Things are great, 11 extra hours on the train!

On the outskirts of Las Vegas, NM, after almost everyone else was sleeping on the train, the freight engine shutdown and the train cam to a halt. The only reason I knew what was happening is i was listening in on my scanner. After 45 minutes and a call to the helpdesk, they got going again.

We finally pulled into Lamy, NM at about 3:00 AM Saturday morning. About 12 hours and 40 minutes late. The only problem I had with this is the fact we had a four hour drive back to Amarillo. I felt good but after the first hour I was too out of it. I had not gotten any sleep that night. Vicky took the wheel and drove almost all the rest of the way.

I have written down some random observations and comments I want to make, but I will save them for the next post and after I get some sleep. I hope you will check back for that post later today or tomorrow.

We are in Chicago

A quick update, I will write more later if we have time before boarding.

We were on our way down from the Sears Tower when I got a message from Amtrak that our train from Chicago to Lamy was canceled and there would not be any alternate transportation available. I was stunned! My heart sank and I was quite upset.

We returned immediately to the station and they told us to hold tight, that the trains status was still up in the air. As of now, the train is still going to run but on an alternate route, putting us very late into Lamy. Fine with me!!! More time on the train!

Praise God he has taken care of this. More to come.

Waiting for a bus

We are now at the train station in Boston waiting for our stinkin bus in the first class lounge.

Our bus ride will be from Boston to Albany where we are suppose to be on trains the rest of the trip. The schedule shows us on a bus for 5 hours, but drive time from Boston to Albany is only like 2. Hopefully, our bus will go direct and not have to make all the scheduled stops. We shall see.

Tuesday, last full day in Boston

We got up and headed out to the Zoo this morning.

Not a large zoo, but real nice. I love sitting staring at the gorillas close up.

After a quick lunch at the zoo, we headed back to Long Wharf to catch a boat to the Boston Harbor Island called George’s Island. There is a very cool old fort on the island. However, rain would mess things up.

I have to say, it has rained several times this week, however, it has ALWAYS rained while we were inside somewhere. It has never rained when we were outside or wanted to be outside. During the boat ride, it began to POUR. The boat stopped at another island first and it was still coming down. As we pulled up to George’s Island, it totally stops raining!

We walk around the fort for about thirty minutes before a park ranger comes around gathering everyone up because of lightning. They then made everyone take the next boat off, still, we hardly got a sprinkle on us.

We got back to Long Wharf and got dinner at a local restaurant (no not McDonalds). Then we boarded a stinkin PACKED train back to our hotel. Each stop, just when I thought no one else could fit on this train, more would get on.

Now, we are back at the hotel getting our bags organized and the boys are playing restaurant in the other room. As I said before, our first leg of the trip home will be on a bus, from Boston to Albany. However, the other portion we were bussed on coming here is now been restored! So we should be be train all the way after Albany. An answered prayer for sure!

I may try to make a post tomorrow, but it may not be until Thursday in Chicago before I get a chance.


We started the morning at 5wits show called The Tomb. It is an interactive adventure show which leads you through a tomb where you have to figure out puzzles and stuff to get out. Stephen loved it! He was running around like a madman figuring everything out.

We then hit the Freedom Trail which is a brick trail that leads you to many historical sites.

State House

Cemetery where Samuel Adams and Paul Revere are buried.

Paul Revere’s house.

This is the church where the dude hung the lanterns (One if by land, two if by sea).

We then got a little time to relax back at the hotel before heading to Fenway for a Red Sox game against the Diamondbacks.

It started raining after we got there and the tarp was on the field. Fortunately our seats were under the cover. The rain let up and they got the game started about 7:30. Fenway is a cool experience. It is almost like the fans feel like they can really make a difference on the field. I do not know a whole lot about the Red Sox, but I thought Josh Beckett was a soccer player. Also, someone actually named their kid Coco Crisp. Coco Crisp. They named him Coco Crisp. He plays center field for the Sox.

Anyway, the Sox lost 2-1. It was fun anyway. The park was very full and seemed full of tradition. Very cool.

We did a lot of walking today and have quite a bit tomorrow so I better get to bed. More tomorrow.

Almost forgot…

We sat down on the Duck tour today and the guy across the isle had an Astros hat on. I asked if they were from Houston, they said yes. I said we were originally from Houston. What part of town did they live in? "Cypress. " Turns out they go to a church called West Houston Church of Christ! They know Alan & Rhonda and remembered us from WH! Their last name is Woodell (sorry, can’t remember their first names). What are the stinkin chances of that happing?

Course, since it was Sunday morning, I got on for to them for not going to church.


We started a little later today, leaving the hotel at 8:15. We went and got on the Boston Duck tours. They use old WWII era DUKW’s that have wheels and also can go in water. We got a 90 minute Boston tour.

Stephen even got to drive when we were in the water.

After the tour, we went to a nearby mall and grabbed some lunch in the food court. Then we went and spent a couple of hours at the Museum of Science and Natural History.

We then went over to the Boston Aquarium and saw a bunch of fish. Oh, they also had penguins.

We finished there a little too early for dinner, so we walked around downtown a bit. We ran across a street performing group from New York that was dancing and other cool stuff. They are called Team Breeze (Youtube video )

We then caught the train back towards our hotel and stopped at a local Mexican place for dinner. Now we are back and Vicky is down the street doing some laundry.

Amtrak called me today. They said some track construction is going on between Boston and Albany so we will have a bustitution. DOH!!! On a good note, chances are good the train we were bussed for on the way here will be running again by Thursday. Its not yet, but I have read is should be.

Chicago to Boston & Day 1

We boarded our next train in Chicago at about 8:45 and got settled into our rooms.

This train is different from every other train we have ridden. Instead of the two level Superliners they use on western routes, this is a single level train.

The sleeper rooms are very similar to the superliners with a few differences, most notable the inclusion of a toilet and sink in every room.

All sleeper passengers are invited to a wine and cheese tasting in the diner before the train leaves the station. Vicky and I got hammered and went to bed to sleep it off. Okay, not really, just Stephen and Michael got hammered. Okay, for real we all just had the non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider.

After, we had our rooms converted for sleeping and hit the pillows. Everyone slept real well. I did not sleep too much, but more than last night. I decided to get up early, shower and be ready to step off the train in Cleveland for a few minutes. We arrived into Cleveland about 15 minutes early (5:50 am). I stepped off for about 20 minutes while the rest of my family was still hung over, er, I mean sleeping. The station is right next to the Cleveland Browns stadium.

After getting back on, I enjoyed quietly watching America roll by. Stephen finally woke up and I went with him down the hall to get a shower. By the way, this was our first times to take showers on the train. Interesting experience showering on a moving train.

Vicky and Michael finally got up and we all went to breakfast. The dining car on this train ain’t near as nice as the others. Like I said, it is single level so there is not near as much room.

After returning from breakfast, our attendant changed my room back to seating and left Vicky’s with the beds down. The kids laid down and we sat in my room as we rolled through Pennsylvania and on into New York. We stepped off again in Buffalo.

We got a late lunch time of 1:30 and Vicky and I had hamburgers and the kids ate mac & cheese. After lunch, we did not have much more time on that train as we would soon arrive in Albany to catch our final train to Boston.

We got to Albany about 40 minutes early and watched them unload our luggage and put it on the next train in the pouring rain. I am was sitting there just hoping we would have something dry in them.

This is a pic of the train we got off (on the right) and the one we were getting on (left) for our final leg.

We boarded train 448 at about 4:00 and went to our seats in Business Class. This train is very short. It consists of 3 engines, 1 baggage car, 1 Café car that is half café half business class, then two additional coach cars. This is not an overnight train so no sleepers. I opted for business class because then you are guaranteed really nice seats and I knew by this time in our trip we would want to get some sleep.

We got to Boston early, around 9:30. We found our local trains and got to our hotel room and in bed before 11:00.

We got up early Saturday and left the hotel at 7:30. We traveled by train to Boston Long Wharf and got a harbor boat to Quincy, MA.

Right next to the boat stop in Quincy is the World War II era USS Salem. It is a heavy cruiser. We spent about an hour touring the boat.

We took the harbor boat back to Long Wharf where we grabbed some lunch at a famous local restaurant (McDonalds). We then grabbed another boat and road over to the Charleston Navy Yard. There we toured the USS Constitution, the oldest sailing ship in active duty.

The USS Cassin Young which is a WWII destroyer.

We also checked out the USS Constitution Museum.

After taking the boat back to Long Wharf, we rode the train back out to our hotel where we grabbed dinner at Fast Eddie’s Pizza & Subs (local color).

Boston Day 2 coming tomorrow.