Planning About in November of last year my friend Christian/Jake from Germany decided he wanted to visit me here in the United States for his first visit to North America over his birthday. And he tasked me with planning a routing that he would enjoy because I know the USA better than he would. So I set off to create the best possible routing possible for a road trip. The first draft had us taking NJ Transit from New York to Trenton renting a car one way. And going to the Black River and Western Railroad, the Delaware River Railroad, and driving back roads to Reading, PA. To spend a few days hunting shortlines and visiting museums in PA. Before taking Amtrak to Roanoke, visiting the Virginia Museum of Transportation and driving down to Chattanooga with a few stops in between before arriving at my house in rural South Carolina. Well a few weeks prior and before we had made arrangements for rental cars I noticed the Ocean Limited (MTRL-HLFX) was running with an all Budd set. So we cancelled our road trip to South Carolina via Roanoke in exchange for riding the Ocean Limited. And with the demise of PV travel and work for me money has been far tighter than before so I planned the Canadian leg of our trip with economy on the mind. So in order to skip a hotel night and two meals we planned to take the Capitol Limited to Toledo, and the bus to Detroit. Skipping further meals on VIA because of our business class tickets. The last change I made was instead of staying in Reading for a few nights I decided to be more central in Pennsylvania by staying in Harrisburg. Which made adventures to Horseshoe Curve, the North Shore Railroad Group, the Reading and Northern, and steamtown. Lastly to get to New York I wanted to finish the route of the Lake Shore Limited so I planned that flying to Boston in the morning and catching the Boston section to Albany would be a fun scenic circle. Day 0: Packing Well as usual I didn’t really pack in advance as many of you guys have learned in my previous reports. But this time we were done before midnight so that sounds like we made an improvement. Day 1: The New England Circle My Piedmont Airlines flight was scheduled to leave at 6:00 AM sharp for Philadelphia from Columbia Metropolitan Airport which normally wouldn’t be a problem. But for all days for alarms not to go off as scheduled that would be this day. My dad who was my ride to the airport had a weird alarm that he slept thru. Luckily it woke up my mother who promptly woke him up. Then woke me up because my alarm didn’t even go off. This is at 435 in the morning and boarding the flight is at 530. So we threw everything in the car and took a ride down the interstate to the airport. Usually I get to hear his military stories on the ride but because of the short time I was fairly quiet and stressed about making the flight. We arrived at the airport around 520 and I ran to the security checkpoint which was surprisingly long for Columbia. The other issue being the people ahead of me were all first time flyers so they took forever to clear security. Whereas I fly at least twelve plus times a year so I have my boarding pass on the face page of my passport, larger electronics towards the top of my suitcase, have the belt off before reaching the detector, and clean pockets. Which wasn’t the case with this group but I still managed to get out of security by 540. I ran thru the small terminal to the lower level tarmac gate and gate checked my luggage. After dropping my luggage on the cart I walked over the tarmac and boarded my Piedmont Airlines ERJ145 and took my seat. Today I was lucky on the small aircraft and had the single seat on the left side of the aircraft. It was a fairly smooth flight and if I’m right it went right over the roof of my house. Which is definitely something I enjoyed. For the most part I tried to sleep, then when that wasn’t forthcoming played Risk on my phone. We landed in Philly a few minutes early and again disembarked onto the tarmac. After a short bus ride from the regional terminal to the mainline terminal I was waiting for my next flight American Airlines 1972 for Boston. I needed to charge my phone because I neglected to the night before however the outlets in Philly leave lots to be desired. The first outlet I found the charger kept slipping out of it. And the second wasn’t an outlet but instead one painted on the wall. I gate checked my bag again and shortly was off on the E190 flight. This time I had an aisle seat because my window seat was taken by first time flyers who didn’t realize they couldn’t sit together. And for the most part I don’t care because we all arrive at the same time. Uneventful and short flight and we were on the ground in Boston. I quickly walked over to baggage claim and waited fifteen minutes for my bag to arrive and then I grabbed the first bus out. Which turned to be the airport shuttle to the Blue Line. I bought a Charlie card and proceeded beyond the fare gates and waited for the next inbound train. The blue line is rather weird in my opinion. The outbound train came in first by third rail and left by raising a pantograph. Which I can’t honestly think of any place I’ve ever seen like that. Shortly thereafter my train came in and we were off to Boston. I decided with Phase III No. 406 running on the Downeaster I would check out North Station. So I transferred to Orange Line at State street and went up to North Station. I photographed the Downeaster painted NPCU before returning back underground to head to South Station. I waited on a second Red Line Train because the first had so many rust spots I felt like it might be the safer move. Arrived a few minutes later at South Station where I decided I didn’t have enough time to sightsee much less with bags. So I railfaned around the station which is surprisingly accessible for a major station. I had lunch at the McDonalds in the station because I didn’t want to miss the only train west. Around 1235 we began boarding the Lake Shore Limited which had two P42s, a deadheading sleeper, two coaches, and a split cafe. We departed promptly at 1250 PM and started off west. I had a seat mate bound for Pittsfield who is a finance student at Harvard. Our two coaches were full the entire way with very few empty seats. I was the first on board so I chose a decent window seat on the engineers side. It’s a very scenic yet under rated run. We made great time. I stepped off for fresh air in Springfield as Vermonter pulled out. I was amazed at how short the platform actually was. Especially considering back in the day Springfield Union Station catered to multiple eight and nine car trains daily. I talked briefly to my seat mate on the way into Pittsfield. I was really surprised to see how much work the train did in Pittsfield. We lost forty passengers and picked up at least forty. I don’t know what’s in Pittsfield but it must be something special. Shortly after Pittsfield we met the eastbound counterpart as we continued westbound. The Post Road Branch seamed frightfully slow. Very scenic coming down into the valley but it seamed incredibly slow. We arrived into Albany a few minutes early as did the New York section a few minutes after we arrived. I watched from the platform as the two sections combined, as well as the Adirondack and Maple Leaf arrive. After a few minutes of standing and shivering from the cold wind I went over to the other platform and boarded a mostly empty Coach for my ride into the city. Shortly after departure we were running a hundred miles an hour down the Hudson at sunset and I attempted to take pictures of the sunset over the valley. My good friend Tyler boarded at Rhinecliff and we talked away the miles into the City. A lot of time was spent talking about politics as we are both political science majors, the state of railroading today, and our mutual hatred of the current Amtrak administration. We arrived into the city slightly off the advertised and went over to a nearby diner for dinner. It was fairly good and had a nice view of the Empire State Building. Afterwards we took the LIRR out to Jamaica and connected to the airtrain to reach our hotel out at JFK. Tyler and I waited for about an hour for the hotel shuttle to arrive forcing us to arrive shortly after midnight. We then met up with Christian/Jake from Germany and went to bed. Due to a mixup we ended up with one king bed so I volunteered to sleep on the floor using my camera bag for a pillow it wasn’t the most comfortable but it was doable.