Category: 2009 – New York City

New York Wrap-Up

Thought I would make one more post to wrap things up.

This was a great trip. I feel honored to have been able to take this trip, especially with my family.

As last year, I still struggle with really appreciating being in a place like New York. I mean, I am there, but how do you truly appreciate the fact you are in New York. You can go places and enjoy the city, but something seems missing. Maybe it is something that can not be had without actually living in a place.

New York life is totally different than what I have ever known. Things like being able to live without a car and walking or using the subway and trains to get everywhere. It is awesome to get a small feel for a different way of living.

As always, the train travel was awesome. Nothing like sitting back and watching the country go by your window. You just cannot get the same experience from flying. We went through 15 states and the District of Columbia on this trip.

That is all for this trip. Thank you all for sharing it with us. There is something cool about knowing people are keeping track of us.

Until next time…


Day 9 & 10 – Our Last Train Home

We boarded our last train this trip around 2:45 for a 3:15 departure. We had a little different room setup this time around. We had one of the small rooms like we normally have, but because of the pricing when I bought the tickets, it was only a few more dollars to get our second room as a larger bedroom.


It has a enclosed bathroom and counter/sink built right in the room so I did the gentlemanly thing and let Vicky have the nicer room. It had nothing to do with the fact I knew the kids would much rather be in that room than the smaller one.

We made 6:00 reservations for dinner. I know, it seems like all we do on the trains is sit then eat, sit then eat, sleep then eat. Well, that is true. What a way to travel!

We went to dinner at 6. Vicky had the beef dish, I had the roasted chicken, Stephen had a hot dog and Michael cheese pizza.

We returned to our rooms where I spent some time visiting with the guy across the hall. It is weird not having Vicky and Michael over there, but cool I finally get a chance to talk with someone. He was only staying on until Kansas City (10:15 that night).

Vicky and Michael turned in around 8:30 but Stephen and I stayed up to step off the train in Kansas City.


After the stop, we boarded and hit our beds. Slept pretty well.

Got up around 6:00 to go shower and get dressed. Someone was using the shower so I decided it could wait till we got home that night.

Everyone else got up and we headed to breakfast around 7:00. Railroad French Toast all around.

After breakfast, the boys and I hung out a while in the lounge car.



We got to step off the train for 15 minutes or so in La Junta, CO.


Then on through the Raton Pass. Some of the best scenery on this route. Michael was really impressed…

After a quick stop in Raton where we stepped off again…

It was time to eat again! Our last meal on the train. I had a pastrami and cheese sandwich, Vicky had a salad, Stephen a hot dog and Michael had chicken strips. We all a slice of Snickers cake for dessert. (Yes, I am going to have a bunch of weight to re-lose starting Sunday)

Then back to our rooms for the final leg of our train trip. We will stop in Las Vegas (NM) and then our stop in Lamy.


Our train arrived into Lamy about 40 minutes late. We arrived into Amarillo at about 9:30 pm.

Day 8 & 9 – Returning Home Part II

Our train left Washington DC right on time at 4:05. We settled right into our rooms. We had a late lunch so we made 6:00 dinner reservations.


After dinner, we made a quick stop at Cumberland, Maryland where Stephen and I stepped off the train for a couple of minutes.


After than, Vicky and Michael made their beds and turned in. Stephen and I stayed up a bit later.

We all slept pretty well. I woke up a few times to see us stopped at at stations like Pittsburgh and Toledo. We got up a little after 6:00 to get breakfast. Because of our early arrival into Chicago, they do not have very long to serve.


After breakfast, back to our rooms to hang out until our arrival into Chicago. The skies were quite grey and looked like it might rain. which does not effect us on the train, but could effect what we do in Chicago.


We arrived in Chicago about 30 minutes late at 9:00.


Our train to Lamy departs at 3:15 so we had about 6 hours to kill. Fortunately, we have the Metropolitan Lounge to hang out in (lounge for sleeper car passengers).


Six hours seems like a long time, and it is, but it is just not long enough to get out and do anything in Chicago. Just cannot risk missing our train.

Not sure if I will get to make another post before we return home tomorrow. There is a chance, but probably not. I will wrap up tomorrow night.

Day 8 – Returning Home

We boarded a New Jersey Transit train at about 8:00 in the morning. We took that train straight to New York Penn station where we picked up our Amtrak tickets, checked our baggage and checked into the ClubAcela lounge.


Our train from NY to Washington DC was running late. At about 10:15, we headed to the platform to board. Soon after, our train pulled in.


We were in coach on this train as it is only a four hour ride.


We arrived in to DC at about 2:00 where we had lunch and settled into the CLubAcela lounge.



About to board right now. Will post again from Chicago tomorrow.

Day 7 – Last Full Day in New York

We started the day off by using PATH, light rail, then a bus to get us to Liberty State Park in New Jersey to catch a ferry to see the Statue if Liberty. The ferry leaves from an old train station where many of the immigrants who went through Ellis Island would board trains for all parts of the country.




To go up into the pedestal, we had to wait in a line for over an hour. Here is the original torch that was replaced in the 80’s…




We made a quick stop at Ellis Island but did not hang there long. Here is a picture of Michael with some of the buildings. It looks like he is in deep thought, he is really making sure his glasses do not fall off while looking down at the water.


Even though we were really tired, we figured how often do we get to New York, so we walked the Brooklyn Bridge.



We then stopped by the Sony Wonder Labs. Lots of cool tech stuff that the kids really enjoyed.

Then we ran by Mickey Mantel’s Restaurant…


We were going to eat there, but having to spend $60 for dinner was just too much, so we went by Grand Central again and ate in the the food concourse.  Cheap and easy.

We also ended up walking by this place…


After that, back to New Jersey to pack up. We board a train tomorrow morning to return home.

Should be able to make a post tomorrow from DC.

Day 6 – To the Bronx We Go

Okay, we started the day in Manhattan. We went to the Intrepid Museum where they have an aircraft carrier (Intrepid), submarine and a Concorde jet on display.

We spent a couple of hours there. Here is the submarine…


Then on the Intrepid…






After grabbing some slices (and Stephen a couple of dogs), we hit the subway and headed to the Bronx. We first went to the Bronx Zoo.





After that, we got back on the subway and headed to Yankee Stadium. We were bummed when the subway left the underground to the elevated track. It was pouring rain.

We hung out in the subway station for a little, then pulled out our umbrellas and got into the stadium.


After an hour of rain delay, the game started about 8:00.




We had to leave after the 4th inning cause it was getting really late.


Old Yankee Stadium right next door…

We took a LONG subway ride back to Manhattan, then transferred to PATH back to Newark Penn Station.


Since rain was predicted for all week, we have been very fortunate that this has been our only run in with rain so far.

Only one more day on New York.

Day 5 – New York Birthday

Today was my birthday and what better way to spend it than on vacation in New York.

We started this morning by going to the Museum of Natural History. By the way, it is nothing like the one on the movie. Even so, it did have a bunch of cool stuff including a full scale model of a blue whale. The picture does not do it justice. The thing is HUGE. Much bigger than I imagined.


Here are some more pics from the museum…



Dum-Dum. Got any gum-gum?

We left the museum for lunch. Found a local joint called the Firehouse. Pretty good. We went back to the museum after lunch for a little bit, then off to Central Park.



Then to the Central Park Zoo…



After that, we went back to Grand Central to grab some dinner. We were really tired so we just wanted something easy. On our way to the Subway we passed this place.

Picture NOT TAKEN WITH MY iPhone…

And FAO right next door…

We then went to Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock…


Michael checking out Central Park…


And we passed by this place…

This is another night that we are BEAT. Our vacation is now half over. Only two more days of NYC before we get back on the train.

Day 4 – Jumping Into to New York City

Wow. What a long day.

We started off early and got to the World Trade Center site around 9:00. We walked all around. Not much to really see other than that it is a construction site.

I caught Michael trying to make friends with this guy…

We also saw a real interesting parking lot. It makes use of the vertical space.P1000379

We then learned something about the New York Subway. Our plan was to get four 7-day passes for unlimited Subway use. Well, it seems that the kiosks you have to buy them from only allow two transaction per credit card PER DAY. AND, there is no way to buy more than one card per transaction. Is that not ridiculously stupid? I have two credit cards, however, PATH tickets to get us from NJ to NYC use the same machines and I had already used one card on those.

We eventually got them all which included using most of the cash we had. Stopped my an ATM and my debit card from my bank was declined and of course it is Sunday so nothing I can do about that until Monday. Of all the things I worried about in making plans, two things I never dreamed would be problems. Oh well.

We then headed out to the New York Fire Department museum.


After that, we took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

We decided to be adventurous for lunch on the island…

Can you believe they have a KFC and Taco Bell in the same place? What the big city folk can come up with. (yes, I am joking)

We then went to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. A very cool museum showing the history of New York train transit system. They also had a huge inventory of historic subway cars. It is housed in an old subway station. Here are some pics…





We then caught the subway to Grand Central Terminal.




We ate dinner in the food court in Grand Central.

Then, we stopped by Times Square…


Then back the hotel to collapse in our beds (and me to type in this report.

More tomorrow.

Day 3 – Chicago to New York

Here is the grand hall at Chicago’s Union Station…


We hung out in the lounge Friday night and they took us to the our train around 8:30. We dropped our things in our room and went to the dining car for a welcome reception. Cheese and fruit plates with some sparkling cider.

After that, back to our rooms and we sacked out.


I slept a whole lot more. I set my alarm for 5:00 cause I wanted to step off in Cleveland, but I turned it off and went back to sleep. I got up around 6:15 and took a quick shower. Taking a shower on a moving train is an interesting experience!

At 6:30, everyone else was up and we all went to have breakfast. French toast all around. After, back to our rooms to hang out.

This train is not a double decker like the last one (those are too tall to fit into New York City). The sleeper cars are different. They have windows for the top bunk as well as the lower bunk. So instead of converting our room back to seats, I made the seats up on the lower bunk for me and left the bed down on the upper bunk for the boys. They can lay down or play up there with plenty of room.

We got a chance to step off the train in Buffalo. Here are the boys outside our sleeper car.


Here is a picture of me taking a picture of Stephen napping on his bunk.

Stephen watching the world go by…

We continued on to Albany. This is where some interesting railroad stuff happens. The two locomotives and the front 5 cars of our train are disconnected and that train becomes train 448 and goes to Boston. The remaining 7 cars continues to be train 48 and continues on to New York City. They hook a different kind of locomotive up called a dual-mode. This loco can run like any other diesel, however because all the tracks in New York City are underground, they cannot run diesel engines in them. So when we get North of New York City, they shut off the diesel engine and lower a shoe which picks up power from a third rail.

In Albany I found something that reminded me of New York.

The black and white cookie. In case you are not familiar, there was a funny bit on Seinfeld with a black and white cookie. Since Seinfeld was set in NYC, I thought it appropriate. Though Vicky did not get any of the bit I tried to reenact.

Our train followed the shores of the Hudson which is quite a beautiful trip by itself. A great way to finish up our trip to New York. Our train arrive at New York Penn Station about an hour early at 5:30.

A friend of mine I met from an online forum (that discusses, well, trains) who lives in NYC met us at Penn. he showed us around, helped us get our commuter train tickets and even rode with us out to Newark Penn Station (our hotel is across the river in Harrison, NJ). In case you read this, Alan, thanks again. Nice seeing a friendly face in a sea of people!

A hotel shuttle picked us up from Newark Penn and we got settled into our hotel room. It is a NICE BIG room and a fraction of the price of getting a little room in the city.

We have a big day planned tomorrow with many places to go. Should be a long, good day and we are really gonna get our feet wet in the NY subway system.

The video I posted yesterday failed to be converted by youtube. I am uploading it again and will post here if it works.

Day 1 & 2 – Lamy to Chicago By Train

Right on time, we boarded Amtrak #4, The Southwest Chief, in Lamy, New Mexico. Here is a video of the train arriving… (video had not finished processing when I posted, so if it won’t play, try back later)

We got right on and settled into our rooms.


By 4:00, we were all getting real hungry. Our stomachs were on Central time (we were in Mountain time). We got the earliest reservation for dinner at 5:00.

Before dinner, we spent around 30 minutes in the lounge car watching the country go by.


We went to the dining car at about 5:05.



I had a beef dish, Vicky had roasted chicken, Stephen had a hot dog and Michael had pizza. All was really good and we all either had cheesecake or Oreo dream for dessert.

After dinner, we returned to our rooms. After a 20 minute stop in La Junta, Co where we got to step off the train for a bit, we made our beds and turned in.

I did not sleep a whole lot. I usually don’t the first night on the train. Don’t want to miss anything. I did sleep some. I woke up at 5:30 am to find Stephen’s head peeking over the side of his bed staring at me (he said he was looking out the window). Anyway,  no more sleep after that. He and I got dressed around 6:00 and Vicky and Michael got up around 6:30.

At 6:51 we arrived in Kansas City. For those who read last year, this is where we had to get off the train and on to a bus because of flooding. Fortunately this time, we were going to see the route to Chicago on the train this year.

Our train is on the left.

We went to the dining car and had breakfast while still at Kansas City. All the boys had Railroad French Toast and Vicky had something called the “Continental.” Looked a little to healthy for my taste. The trained pulled out of KC while we were still eating.

After breakfast, back to the rooms for hang out time (and a little, very little, dosing off time for me).

Because of the arrival time into Chicago and the time the dining car staff needs to close down shop, they did and early lunch as first come first serve.

Vicky and I split a hamburger and a warm turkey sandwich (we each ate half) and the kids had pizza.

After lunch we had about two hours until arrival into the Windy City (that is Chicago, not Amarillo). We hung out in our rooms until we got close. Then we started packing everything up in preparation of disembarking our first train.

We arrived around 25 minutes EARLY into Chicago. We checked into the lounge for sleeper passengers and then headed out to walk around downtown.

We walked under the El (elevated trains).
P1000325Then went to our favorite Chicago pizza place, Giordano’s.

P1000326 P1000327

We are now back in the lounge waiting to board our second train, The Lakeshore Limited #48 from Chicago to New York.