Time for the annual ski trip to New England. This is the second year I've been leading one to Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Everyone else just flies up to Portland (Maine, that is, i.e., PWM), but I take the Acela to Boston, rent my car there, drive up to Portland and spend the night before meeting everyone at the airport. On the way back, I drop off everybody at PWM, continue to drive back to Boston, drop the car, spend a night in Boston, and spend the afternoon riding the Acela home. Train ride are first class using points in one direction and an upgrade coupon the other way. As I've done this trip and described it here previously, I thought that rather than discuss the Acela, it's performance, describe the interesting railway infrastructure and equipment I saw along the way, I will focus on the topic that seems to be of most interest here on Amtrak Unlimited: The food! Although my trip started on the first day of my retirement from Federal Service, I actually woke 15 minutes earlier than usual in order to make Acela 2150, my ride to Boston that leaves at 5:30 AM. This is sort of weird, because my usual MARC train left at 5:20, but I left the house earlier than usual. Actually, the taxi driver took about 5 minutes longer to get to the station than I do when I drive, so perhaps it was for the best. The Acela came in on time, and I was seated in my assigned seat, single window seat, facing forward, with full recline (no reverse facing seat behind me). After we left Wilmington, I ordered breakfast. The "breakfast quesdillas." Oh, here's the menu for both trips: After we left New York, I had another breakfast coming, but I wasn't all that hungry, so I got the fresh fruit plate' After creeping through Metro-North territory (70 mph maximum, usually a lot slower than that), we finally started to pick up speed, although given the track alignment, we couldn't go all that fast until we passed Kingston, RI. Here's the obligatory 105+mph speed readout. After arriving in Boston, I realized that I had a roller bag, and I had to pick up a large roller duffel and pair of skis at the baggage claim. Lacking an extra hand to deal with the three pieces, I found a redcap in front of the Club Acela Metropolitan Lounge. He agreed to hold my one bag while I got the others. After I retrieved the others, he watched them while I went up to the Metropolitan Lounge and called Enterprise for my car rental. When they called me back, I wen downstairs, and the helpful redcap wheeled all of my gear out in from of the station where the Enterprise driver was waiting. Definitely worth the tip. Over to Enterprise, rented my car, added the rental to my EZPass account, and then off to lunch at Yankee Lobster, on Seaport Blvd. The lobster rolls, while still good, are getting kind of expensive. Back in the car, up Seaport Blvd., right into the Big Dig, turning off on US 1 North to continue to Maine. A stop at the New Hampshire Liquor Store for some distilled spirits and a couple of bottles of cava to toast my retirement, and then into Portland, with no traffic or weather problems. The view of Portland harbor from the rooftop bar at my hotel. Time for dinner. Portland has developed a reputation for having quite the culinary scene, particularly for a city of its size. I've tried a number of well-known places before, but wanted to try something new. In addition, it was close to 15 degrees out, so I wanted something a little closer to the hotel to minimize my walking in the cold. I selected a place called Davids, in front of the Civil War monument, highly rated on Google Maps and mentioned as a worthy place to try at Chowhound. First course was a tuna tartare: Main course was grilled duck breast with cherry sauce. Finally, dessert was an apple-berry crisp with a scoop of vanilla Ice cream. The food was basically pretty good, but I think the saucier was a bit too heavy-handed with the sugar, especially in the tuna tartare. The duck was really cooked nicely, though. I know, there are those who would like Amtrak to serve food like this on Long Distance Train dining cars, but be aware that this meal (along with a glass of shiraz and a cup of coffee cost me something on the order of $85. And this restaurant is not a real fancy or expensive place. But everything is cooked to order. The next morning I woke up and found that it had snowed a bit. A good omen for a ski/snowshoe trip. And so we headed north into even more snow, the land where the roads are bounded by 3 to 5 foot high snowbanks and the snow is so deep, if you're not wearing snowshoes you sink up to your knees. It was a good weekend in the far cold north, and there's more to come concerning the return trip, including some ranting about Amtrak customer service (or the lack thereof.) But don't worry, it's not all negative, and mostly good, it's just that I might be out some AGR points.