Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WRT on the Road: Trains, Planes and Automobiles

By Wild Road Tripper

ARLINGTON, Va. -- So you really want to know what goes into one of my road trip days?

Are you sure?

Here's the itinerary (with comments) for Wednesday, November 11, day 3 of the fall road trip:

5:45 AM - Wake-up call, Toronto, Ontario (from my cell phone, I no longer use hotel wake-up calls, too unreliable)
6:45 AM - Breakfast at hotel (Buffet-style, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, fruit, white toast, orange juice, coffee)
7:30 AM - Back to room for final once-over
7:55 AM - Check out of hotel, across the street to Union Station
8:10 AM - Board train to Buffalo, New York (Depew)
8:30 AM - VIA Rail Canada train #97, 'The Maple Leaf', departs Toronto
10:16 AM - At St. Catherines, conductor comes on the PA system and pronounces, 'We'll be here for up to 25 minutes. There's a ship going thru the Welland Canal ahead of us.'
10:18 AM - Train departs St. Catherines.
10:24-10:44 AM - Waiting at the side of the Welland Canal for a 'down' directioned-ship to lock thru the canal.
10:55-11:05 AM - Niagara Falls, Ontario. End of the line for the VIA Rail crew; now, as Amtrak train #64, we cross the Niagara River over the Whirlpool Bridge (near the rapids of the same name) and re-enter the USA
11:20 AM-12:20 PM Customs/Immigration formalities. 22 passengers crossed the border, and a 5-man crew of Border Patrol agents interviews every passenger. After taking two off for 'further interrogation', all are safely returned to the train.
12:40 PM - Depart Niagara Falls. The train now does 60 MPH thru North Tonawanda, Black Rock, and the Buffalo waterfront, as the track is wedged between I-190 and the waterfront park.
1:37 PM - Arrive Buffalo (Depew), the 50 seat station Amtrak built in the mid-70's to replace the massive Buffalo Central Terminal, a 16-story station which was a monument to the Vanderbilt era of the New York Central Railroad. (Of course, that was 3 owners ago.)
1:40 PM - Depart in taxi for Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.
1:55 PM - After missing every stinkin' stoplight between Amtrak and the Airport, we arrive in plenty of time for our Southwest Airlines flight to Baltimore (BWI).
2:05 PM - Thru security in record time (for here, at least). No waiting, no problems, just stuff on the belt and away we go.
2:15 PM - Scheduled lunch stop at the Anchor Bar on the airport concourse. (I had the local favorite, 'Beef on Weck', roast beef on a kimmelweck rye bun, with plenty of sinus-clearing, tear-inducing horseradish. (I love it.)
2:45 PM - Head for gate for flight to Baltimore.
2:55 PM - Finally get to gate for flight to Baltimore.
3:05 PM - Curious, I ask how full is the flight to Baltimore. Gate agent says, 'We're oversold by five. I was just about to ask for volunteers. Would you like to for a $100 credit plus your flight free today?'
3:05:10 PM - 'Hey, we'll volunteer'
3:35 PM - Board flight to Baltimore. Flight gets more full with every passing minute, as the heat is on this plane, despite the 55-degree afternoon and the full sunshine outside the aircraft.
3:50 PM - 'Looks like we will need all the volunteers, so grab your things and go back in to the gate area'.
4:00 PM - Walk away with a) $319 dollar voucher; b) two seats confirmed on the next flight, and c) pre-board privileges, which means extra seats to choose from.
5:00 PM - Start this blog entry
6:00 PM - Save this entry (for now)
6:40 PM - Board flight at Buffalo for Baltimore. Obtain the 'Russo seats' (Row 1). No one sits in the middle between wife and I.
7:00 PM - Depart Buffalo.
8:00 PM - Arrive Baltimore (BWI).
8:10 PM - Walk out terminal door and bus for Amtrak BWI rail station appears. No waiting.
8:20 PM - Arrive Amtrak BWI Rail Station.
8:40 PM - Amtrak train 193, inbound from New York destined for Washington, arrives. We board. Departs 2 minutes later.
8:55 PM - Arrive New Carrollton, Maryland Amtrak station. Detrain, cross over to Washington Metro Orange Line subway to Rosslyn.
10:00 PM - Arrive Rosslyn (Arlington, Virginia). Walk out of Metro Station (after riding 12-story-escalator) to find empty taxis all around the place. Flag one down, fill the trunk with bags, off to hotel.
10:15 PM - After checking in, finally open hotel room door.
11:15 PM - Finally, pizza for late supper.

Well, there it is. That's what it takes for us to travel. Lots of co-ordination, a little luck, and a lot of patience. Following any sports team on the road is not for the lazy. On the contrary, you need stamina and some really good planning to make it happen. The final verdict: 'I'm tired.'

After all this, we really need 'da boys' to come through on Friday night! (Right, Wild faithful?)

More after some sleep...maybe tomorrow, which will be museums (due to the remnants of 'Ida' heading up the East Coast)...

Until then, my batteries need recharging...



Ms. Conduct said...

Wow! So, you couldn't just fly from Toronto to DC?

Nick in New York said...

great stuff. And Beef of Weck is delictable for sure!

Dampland said...

I am tired from just reading your recap!



WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

Ms. C: With the 3-hour delay at Buffalo for the $319 voucher, we actually MADE over $200 yesterday. The lowest one-way fare from Toronto to Washington was well over $300 each, one-way. We did it for $85 each.

NiNY: I love Beef on Weck. Wife hates roast beef. We were at an office building in Downtown Buffalo two years ago when we were going to HSBC Arena and found a place which specialized in Beef on Weck. I'd heard about it, but never had it. Now, I love it, but in Minnesota they've never heard of kimmelweck rolls.

Damp: OMG it was a looooong day...