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All . . . Aboard! June 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Travel & Leisure.

Instead of retracing the 1200 miles from Florida to New Jersey for the third time in as many weeks, I’ve decided to let Amtrak do the “heavy lifting” for me.  When I head back to NJ tomorrow, I’m taking the . . . Auto Train!

English: Amtrak's Auto Train passing the Railf...

English: Amtrak’s Auto Train passing the Railfan platform in Folkston. Jason Trew Photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The train departs Sanford FL (about 3 hours from us) tomorrow at 4 pm.  After boarding at 2:30 and getting settled in to my spacious coach seat accommodations, I’ll head straight to the lounge for a Wine and Cheese reception.  Bella!  After watching the scenery pass by for a few hours, it’s off to the Dining Car for dinner on the rails, followed by a movie in the 2nd floor lounge until the Land of Nod beckons.

After the movie, I’ll pull out my security blanket and pillow and kick back to enjoy a cozy siesta, serenaded by the clickety~clackety~clack of the rails beneath my feet.

Breakfast is served, beginning at 6 am, before we pull into the station at Lorton Virginia (just south of Washington DC) around 9:30 am.

As soon as my car is unloaded from the auto transport car, I’ll drive the last 4 hours to mom’s.


Once back in NJ, I’ll keep mom company until the Memorial Service on July 15th, help her decide what she wants to bring back to Florida with us, and  start cleaning out the house of possessions accumulated by mom and dad over the past 46+ years.

I’m excited.  It’s been ages since I’ve taken a long distance train ride.

And . . . it’ll be great not to have to keep a lookout for the next rest stop since trains (unlike cars) have bathrooms on board!

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Richard W Scott - June 27, 2012

Sounds like fun. I love the train.
Good luck!
Oh, and I trust the weird advertisement wasn’t your doing?

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

Doesn’t it? I feel a sense of adventure . . . maybe I’ll capture the experience in a sequel to Murder on the Orient Express. 😉

You are correct . . . I don’t post advertisements on SLTW (but I have seen them occasionally when I’m not logged in). Cheeky monkeys!

2. Andra Watkins - June 27, 2012

When the schedules were favorable, we took the train down to Tampa all the time to see MTM’s mom. The train station in Tampa is a neglected treasure.

Many hugs and thoughts in the coming days, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

Thanks, Andra. I looked into the regular train too . . . but decided that I wanted my car with me since I’m going to be in NJ for 3 weeks running errands and playing chauffeur.

3. sweetdaysundertheoaks - June 27, 2012

Wow Nancy that is really going to be a trip! Do you really have a blankie? Not like I do or anything.

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

Not really . . . but I was stranded overnight in Dulles Airport once (in the middle of a blizzard).

The airline provided me with a blanket as part of my “luxurious” overnight accomodations on a airport bench. I often take it with me in the car in case I’m cold. This will be ITS first train ride. 😉

4. sufilight - June 27, 2012

Sounds like fun, you always seem to enjoy life, and I admire this in you. 🙂 My thoughts are with you and you Mom during this time of transition for all.

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

Thanks, Marie. It shall be an exciting little interlude before I roll up my sleeves again. And I’ve made return reservations for mom and me . . . with a private sleeper and bath!

5. suzicate - June 27, 2012

I’ve never done a train trip and have been wanting to…thinking about doing a day trip to DC in the fall…the idea of a train ride sounds so exciting to me….and yay for bathrooms right where you are!

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

I used to take the train from Wmsburg to Trenton during my days at William & Mary. But only day travel. This will be my first overnight train trip . . . a mini-adventure to savor before tackling all the To Do’s.

6. souldipper - June 27, 2012

This reminds me of our ferry rides…a respite before the world again descends. Golly sounds A-1 – sort of the non-Orient Express!

nrhatch - June 27, 2012

Yes . . . a regular non-Marikesh Express. 😉

7. Pocket Perspectives - June 27, 2012

What a great idea to put your car onto a train…and then hop onto the train too…great idea! So much easier than driving! Wine, cheese, scenery, dinner and then snuggle in with that blanket…a bit of quiet before some busy times…wishing you well…

nrhatch - June 28, 2012

Thanks, Kathy. When BFF and I are traveling together, the car is fine ~ he drives. I snooze and amuse. 😉

But 1200 miles (each way) is farther than I want to drive by myself. So the auto train is perfect. And mom loves train travel . . . so our return trip together will start off her new adventures with a clickety~clackety~clack.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

The auto train is a great way to avoid 900 miles of interstate between FL and DC . . . even if it did NOT provide the best night’s sleep. 😉

8. jannatwrites - June 28, 2012

I’ve never ridden on an Amtrak train, but you make it sound like it could be fun. I did ride the narrow-gauge railroad from Durango, CO to Silverton, CO several years ago, but if there was wine and cheese, it was a well-kept secret 🙂

I hope you have a safe trip!

nrhatch - June 28, 2012

Thanks, Janna. We’ve done scenic train rides through autumnal forests in North Carolina (gorgeous!) and short trips in historic attractions and amusement parks, but I’ve never dined in a dining car, watched a movie on a train, or snored on board.

Choo Choo!

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

As it turns out, coach passengers are not invited to the wine and cheese reception . . . it’s for sleeper car passengers only. Mom and I did enjoy the wine and cheese on the return choo choo. And both lounges have snacks (fruit and party mix) available for nibbling on before dinner. Twas fun.

9. speccy - June 28, 2012

Best wishes for the journey and all the to dos

nrhatch - June 28, 2012

Thanks, speccy. Instead of dreading a 2500-mile round trip drive, I’m happily anticipating my departure.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

All the To Do’s didn’t get done . . . but the most important priorities got crossed off the lists.

10. Don - June 28, 2012

Nothing like a train journey. Enjoy every minute of it.

nrhatch - June 28, 2012

Thanks, Don. As the little boy in the Disney commercial says, “I’m too excited to sleep.” 😀

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Much more relaxing that driving mile after mile up the interstate.

11. Tammy - June 28, 2012

Wish I was traveling with you.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Maybe the next time you’re on the East Coast. We can kick back and relax in the lounge car while the scenery flies by.

12. William D'Andrea - June 28, 2012

We sure don’t get service like that on the Long Island Rail Road. Commuters aren’t allowed to bring food or beverages aboard. The trains are messy enough as it is. Enjoy the journey!

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

The auto train allows passengers to bring coolers on board . . . and the train was very clean. An enjoyable way to travel.

13. johnell74 - June 28, 2012

What a big country you live in, Nancy. That amount of travelling would take us nearly twice round our little island. I hope you enjoy the trip – it sounds good.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

It is definitely a great way to travel without being cooped up in a car while searching for the next “rest stop.”

But you have the right idea . . . everything in close proximity. 😉

14. spilledinkguy - June 28, 2012

I’ve never been on a train trip before, Nancy…
although in my mind it would be totally Darjeeeling Limited-Esque kinds of wonderful. 🙂
Have a safe journey, Nancy…
my very best to everyone…

spilledinkguy - June 28, 2012

WHOA! Looks like I got a little ‘e’ happy.
Go vowels, go!

Karen J - June 28, 2012

The Amtrak IS great fun, but I had a lot of ‘let-down’ to deal with during/after my first trip a few years ago – I too had “Orient Express-type” expectations (that I didn’t quite realize I had), and they were rather cruelly dashed by the plastic-and-stainless-steel reality.

Love and Hugs and Happy Trails anyway, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

I hear ya, Karen. On the way up, I traveled coach. On the return trip (with mom), I reserved a sleeper cabin with its own bathroom ~ passengers in sleeper cars get treated a bit more “luxuriously” than those in coach. 😀

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, SIG. Quite a relaxing way to traverse the East Coast from FL to DC . . . but, as Karen notes, it’s not quite the Orient Express.

15. kateshrewsday - June 28, 2012

The romance of the long distance train ride, Nancy! A lovely way to travel, even under such circumstances. I expect you’ll have to do some watching in preparation: maybe North by Northwest, or Murder on The Orient Express…have a lovely ride.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Kate. The journey provided a bit of relaxation . . . bookending a very BUSY few weeks.

16. Booksphotographsandartwork - June 28, 2012

Sorry you have to experience the fun of a long train ride for such a sad reason. I had no idea that you could put your car on the train also! That’s quite interesting. I know your mom is going to feel safe to have you with her.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Mom enjoyed the train ride back better than the time in the car ~ except when the train jostled her as she crossed from car to car.

Booksphotographsandartwork - July 23, 2012

Glad to hear that. She needed to have a little something to enjoy. A little time to for her mind to go elsewhere maybe.

17. Perfecting Motherhood - June 29, 2012

I had no idea you could still put a car on a train today. That’s something you can’t do on a regular airplane, and it doesn’t sound like the ride is that long, considering the distance. You may as well make the best out of the situation. Good luck sorting through your parents’ stuff…

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

I managed to sort through and donate ALL of dad’s clothes and 8 bags of mom’s clothes. We brought the rest of her clothes, toiletries, meds, and jewelry down here. She’s settling in quite nicely . . . and seems in better spirits.

18. Cecelia Futch - June 29, 2012

I remember as a small child taking the train from Louisiana to Kentucky to see my grandparents. I have magical memories of those trips and times. Enjoy the trip. A safe journey to you, and my best to you all in the days ahead.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Cecelia. The train was a great way to avoid 15 hours of interstate travel. Now that mom’s starting to get a bit more settled in her new digs . . . it’s time to schedule physical therapy and doctor’s appts. for her.

19. SidevieW - June 30, 2012

That sounds like a treat instead of driving all that way

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Much better . . . the dining car was especially fun ~ being seated with strangers and learning their stories.

20. William D'Andrea - June 30, 2012

I remember when I was a small child, we’d take the Lackawana Railroad Liner, named the Pheobe Snow, from Hoboken, New Jersey to visit my grandmother who lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I vaguely remember sitting at a table in the dining car, and running my fingers along the ridges on the table’s edge.

I was just one wild and crazy kid!

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

You are a wild and crazy guy, William! Thanks for sharing your recollection. The dining car was my favorite part.

21. 2e0mca - June 30, 2012

I wish you a safe journey.. though I’d expect nothing less from the railroad operator.

Remember that the best movie of all is passing by the outside the window, even at night! (well in the UK at least where the towns are only a few metres from each other!). Enjoy the trip and try to put sad things away – train journeys are things of joy with positive endings 🙂

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Good thoughts, Martin. I agree completely. There’s a time to mourn and a time to enjoy the present moment. I enjoyed my time on the Auto Train quite a bit (except I didn’t get a good night’s sleep in either direction).

22. Christine Grote - July 1, 2012

I have always wanted to take a train ride and hope to do so someday. It us a sad and difficult task you face. Your mother will appreciate your help. It sounds like a lot of things got settled in short order. I know it’s important to you to be able to help her and I’m glad you have this opportunity. Will you be driving back or returning by train?

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Mom and I returned by train . . . in a sleeper car with a private bath! Quite an enjoyable way to avoid hours of driving on I-95.

23. Three Well Beings - July 2, 2012

I read this a day or two ago and didn’t stop to comment…but I’m reading it again because I was thinking of you! I think taking the train was just a wonderful way to slow down a bit, too. My cousin, under similar circumstances, took the train often between her home and her mothers…and I think that was her thought. She could think and not be driving distracted and conserve a little personal energy, too. You’ve been in my thoughts, Nancy. Debra

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Debra. The train is an opportunity to “slow down” and just be for a time. I met so many fellow passengers . . . very social way to travel.

24. bluebee - July 3, 2012

Train trips always have an aura of olde worlde adventure. Hope all goes well with helping your mum, Nancy.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, BB. So far, so good. I think that mom is settling in quite nicely and seems to be in good spirits.

25. granny1947 - July 4, 2012

It all sounds like fun.
Seems I have missed a lot.
Will have to go back on your posts tomorrow.
I came over to look because I haven’t been getting notifications…now I see why. 🙂

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Yes . . . this is my longest blogging hiatus EVER. I shall never be able to catch up on what everyone’s been up to. But I’ll join their lives “in progress.”

granny1947 - July 23, 2012

Good to have you back. 🙂

26. ryoko861 - July 5, 2012

Finally catching up here. So sorry to hear about your father!My sincerest condolences!
I wish there was an auto train to England. Kind of impossible, huh? *sigh*
You’re spirit is very upbeat! More like an adventure, which is a healthy way to look at all this! Circle of life.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, ryoko. It’s not what happens that matters . . . it’s how we view what happens that determines our happiness (or lack thereof). Being sad never improves the bumps in the road.

27. Team Oyeniyi - July 6, 2012

Have a safe journey, Nancy. I gather you are bringing your Mom home with you after the service?

Such a long time between your father’s passing and the services. Is this usual in the USA?

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Often in the states, funerals are held immediately . . . especially for burials. Because dad was cremated, we had the option of delaying the service.

And, yes, mom is here with us now.

28. viviankirkfield - July 6, 2012

I always thought that train travel was a better way to go…after your post…I’ll definitely have to give it a try. 🙂 Nancy, I wanted you to know that I’ve passed along several blog awards to you: http://viviankirkfield.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/and-the-winner-is-awards-and-a-giveaway/
Best of luck with the service.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Vivian. And thanks for your lovely card. You are a very kind soul.

viviankirkfield - July 23, 2012


29. dearrosie - July 7, 2012

Hi Nancy,
Great idea to take the train. Thinking of you helping your Mum pack up her home after almost half a century…

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

We packed up nearly everything she wanted . . . and crammed it into my Honda Civic for the return trip. So far she has not asked for anything that I failed to pack. Yay!

30. SidevieW - July 13, 2012

still no further post ;-(

I was hoping you’d be able to squeak in a little time. I do hope all is ok

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

I ran over to the local library every few days to quickly scan e-mails . . . but didn’t have any time to write. I’m hoping to find a new writing rhythm that works.

31. Alannah Murphy - July 13, 2012

Sounds wonderful, and glad you’ll be there for your mum. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures on your return.

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Alannah. I’m starting with comments . . . and will progress from there as time permits.

Mom’s doing quite well (physically and emotionally) . . . better than expected.

Alannah Murphy - July 23, 2012

Glad to hear it Nancy, and glad your mum has such a lovely caring daughter.

nrhatch - July 23, 2012

Yup . . . she’s a lucky duck. {{quack}}

32. cuhome - July 17, 2012

Amtrak is wonderful! I loved the trip that began in Tacoma, heading for San Francisco! We had a sleeper car, and that just seemed soooo luxurious! Hope your trip is wonderful, and enjoy!!!

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

I loved the sleeper car on the return trip with mom . . . although she needed the beds folded up at midnight so she could sit on the sofa with a heating pad. I’m still catching up on sleep.

33. Piglet in Portugal - July 19, 2012

Thinking of you Nancy. Hope all is well

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, PiP. It’s getting better every day.

34. sufilight - July 20, 2012

Missing your daily, witty posts. Hope all is well. Hugs~

nrhatch - July 22, 2012

Thanks, Marie. It’s good to be back . . . hope my wit returns soon. 😉

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