Dan Chazin's Trip on the Amtrak Cardinal
It's about 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2004, and I've just arrived at Chicago Union Station on the California Zephyr and will soon be boarding Train #50, the Cardinal, on my way to New York.
Tonight's trip will be special because there are three private cars on the rear of the train. I made my reservation for a standard bedroom on the Amtrak sleeper on the Cardinal about a month ago, and decided to post my itinerary on the All-Aboard list last week. I immediately received a response from Adam Auxier, an on-line acquaintance whom I've talked to for several years, stating that he would be running three private cars on that train. Since I had already reserved a room in the Amtrak sleeper, I didn't need the full package he was providing to those who would be occupying private rooms in his cars, but we agreed that, for the price of $150, I would have unlimited access to the private cars. The Cardinal is now a single-level train, so it will be possible for me to move between the Amtrak cars and the private cars whenever I desire.
Upon arrival at the station, I met Adam and then went into the Metropolitan Lounge, where I stored my suitcase in the adjoining room and signed online to check my AOL messages, using a phone jack at a desk in the lounge. After spending about half an hour reviewing my messages and replying to some of them, I realized that I had not yet received a phone call from my on-line friend Michael, a blind 12-year-old railfan, who had called me earlier this afternoon (while I was aboard the California Zephyr) and told me that he would be arriving at Union Station about 5:10 p.m. So I checked my cell phone and discovered that I had no reception! I was rather surprised at this (reception at New York Penn Station is excellent), but I figured that Michael had tried to call me, so I walked upstairs to the street (where reception was much better) and found a voice mail from him. When I called him back, I found out that he and his mother were waiting for me downstairs by the ticket windows, so I walked down and said hello.
We decided to walk over to the Great Hall (the former main waiting room of the station), where we sat down and talked for awhile. Michael had been in touch with Chuck, another person involved with the private cars, who had agreed to let him board the cars in the yard and ride them back to the station. It was getting rather late to do this, as the train was supposed to arrive at Union Station no later than 7:00 p.m. However, Michael called Chuck on his cell phone and found out that both the dinette and the sleeper on the Cardinal had been bad-ordered, and that the train would be delayed while these cars were replaced. Since no other Viewliner sleeper was available, Amtrak had to “steal” a sleeper from the Lake Shore Limited, which apparently ran with only one sleeper. Thus, Michael figured that he still had enough time to go down to the yard and catch the train before it departed. About 6:45 p.m., I said goodbye to Michael and returned to the Metropolitan Lounge, where I once again signed onto AOL.
On the way, I met Adam, who pointed out to me that the rest of the passengers for his private cars were sitting in the main waiting area, awaiting the arrival of the train. The attendant in the Metropolitan Lounge subsequently commented that Amtrak had been requested to allow the passengers on the private cars to wait in the Metropolitan Lounge, but that permission was refused on the ground that the lounge is crowded enough with the first-class passengers who use Amtrak sleepers, and that the people riding the private cars are not “first-class passengers” as far as Amtrak is concerned. I, of course, had reserved a room in the Amtrak sleeper, so I was permitted access to the lounge. (Actually, since I arrived on a sleeper on the California Zephyr, I presumably should have been able to get into the lounge in any event.) The lounge attendant also informed other passengers that the reason for the delay to the Cardinal was the placement of the private cars on the rear. This was contrary to what I had heard. Michael had been informed by Chuck (who, being in the yard with the train, should know what was really going on) that the Amtrak dinette and sleeper cars on the Cardinal had been bad-ordered and had to be replaced at the last minute. (In a subsequent post to the All-Aboard list, Gene Poon confirmed that the cause of the initial terminal delay of the Cardinal was the replacement of these two cars.) I found it disturbing that the Amtrak attendant appears to have been providing incorrect and misleading information to the passengers waiting in the Metropolitan Lounge, unfairly blaming the departure delay on the private cars, when in fact the delay was entirely Amtrak's fault.
At 7:30 p.m., the scheduled departure time of our train, the departures monitor began to show our train as “delayed.” Not until 8:34 p.m. was an announcement made that passengers needing assistance should assemble in the front of the lounge for boarding. About ten minutes later, general boarding for sleeping car passengers began. After stowing my belongings in my room, I walked down the platform to record the consist.
Today's Cardinal is pulled by engine #194 and includes three Amfleet II coaches (with the first coach closed off), an Horizon dinette/Custom Class car (with tables on one side and club seating on the other), and Viewliner sleeper #62036, Skyline View. At the rear are three private cars, making up a train called the “George Washington” (named after the C&O train that formerly ran along this route). The first car, named Metis, is a heavyweight former Canadian National office car, with five bedrooms, a dining area (with a table that seats eight people), a small lounge area with plush sofas, and an open plaform at the front end. The next car, Pacific Union, is an ex-Amtrak (former Union Pacific) 10-6 sleeper. (Interestingly, this car, then serving as an Amtrak Heritage sleeper and numbered 2980, was on the eastbound Cardinal when I took it from Chicago to Hinton on October 14, 1993!) The rear car is the Royal Street, lettered for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which was formerly used on the Crescent. This car has five bedrooms and a large lounge section, with plush seating and a rounded observation window at the rear. When I was ready to reboard the train, I had to wait while a passenger in a wheelchair was hoisted in a lift to our car. Needless to say, she occupied the handicapped room.
As soon as I reboarded, I walked back to the private cars, where I met Adam. He offered me a beer, and I sat down in a plush chair in the observation section of the rear car, Royal Street. This was indeed a luxurious way to ride a train! I started talking to one woman who flew in from the west coast to ride the private cars on this train. Her plane, which had been scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 5:00 p.m., was delayed by over two hours, and she would have missed the train had our departure from Chicago not been significantly delayed!
We departed at 8:59 p.m., just about one and one-half hours late. After about 15 minutes, I decided to return to my room to see what was doing in the Amtrak section of the train. I was informed that the conductor had come by several times asking for my ticket, so I walked down to the lounge car and gave the ticket to him. Soon, I was given a bottle of wine and cheese-and-crackers platter that was supposed to represent an evening meal for sleeping car passengers. However. I had ordered special meals for this trip, and it turned out that there were five such meals aboard. So the lounge car attendant offered to heat one of these meals for tonight's dinner.
In the meantime, I walked through the coaches and found that there were a total of about 60 passengers in the rear two coaches, but the first coach was closed off. No passengers were ever seated in that car, even later on in the trip, when more passengers boarded and some passengers had to sit next to someone else. I was subsequently told by someone that since there is only one coach attendant on this train, the third coach cannot be used for passengers. I'm not sure this is correct, but if it is, one wonders why the third coach is on the train at all. Not very surprisingly, no coach passengers who boarded in Chicago were headed all the way to New York!
After a little while, I returned to the dinette and asked if my meal was ready. The attendant took it out of the oven, but - as he thought - it turned out not to be heated adequately, so he put it back. When I was served the meal about 20 minutes later, it was heated thoroughly, and it was really delicious! Of course, I was the only passenger eating at this time, and the experience did not quite compare to eating in a regular diner, but I enjoyed the meal very much nonetheless. During dinner, we made a very brief stop at Dyer at 10:17 p.m.
When I finished dinner, I went back to the Royal Street private car at the rear end of the train. The lights had been dimmed inside, and a spotlight shone out the back, permitting one to gaze out the back on the passing scenery. Several other people, some of whom themselves owned private cars, were also sitting in the rear car, and we had some interesting conversations about bygone and present-day trains. For part of the time, we were joined by Adam, who contributed stories about his father's experiences as the Amtrak agent in Centralia, Illinois. This was a truly delightful experience - reminiscent of the way things were 50 years ago!
We seemed to be running rather slowly, despite the apparent good condition of the track (clearly visible out the back of the train). I didn't have my scanner on, and assumed that there was some kind of speed restriction in force. (Subsequently, Gene Poon posted on All-Aboard that the signals on this stretch of CSX track were not working properly, resulting in a further delay to our train of an hour and a half.)
About 11:45 p.m., I decided to return to my room and go to sleep. As usual when I stay in a Viewliner, I chose to sleep in the upper berth, since it is much easier to pull down and - unlike Superliner accommodations - it has a window. I think that I fell asleep pretty quickly. I was awake for our brief stop at the Rensselaer Amshack at 12:31 a.m. (just over three hours late), but the next thing that I can recall is waking up about 5:30 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time). I think that I slept for about four hours straight, and I slept through our station stops in Lafayette, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis and Connersville.
I couldn't get any reception on my scanner at this point (I subsequently discovered that I had inadvertently locked out the channel used by CSX), so at first, I had no idea where we were. Finally, about 7:00 a.m., I woke up for good. I noticed that we were passing through the town of Wyoming, which, my SPV Rail Atlas indicated, was a short distance north of Cincinnati. Since I wanted to step off the train upon our arrival in Cincinnati, I soon got dressed.
We arrived at the Cincinnati Union Terminal at 7:20 a.m. I detrained and walked down the platform, taking a number of pictures of the consist, but I didn't attempt to go upstairs into the magnificent station (which I have seen on other occasions). We spent 16 minutes at Cincinnati, and when we departed at 7:36 a.m., we were two hours and 47 minutes late.
I recalled from my previous trips on the line that the route of the train going through Cincinnati provides a spectacular view of the city and the Ohio River, which we cross into Kentucky, so I went back to the private cars to take in the view from the open Dutch-doors in the vestibules. I then spent some time sitting in the beautiful and relaxing Royal Street car at the rear of the train. We continued to parallel the Ohio River, passing through a rural area of Kentucky characterized by many small villages, some of which have homes that require one to cross the railroad tracks in order to access a public street!
Unlike some railfan trips I have been on, where many passengers bring along video cameras and spend most of the trip hanging out of open windows trying to get the best possible view, most of the people on the private cars on this trip were content to spend their time relaxing in the lounge areas of the Royal Street or the Metis, reading a book, talking with a fellow passenger, or just sitting back and watching the scenery. They were there to enjoy the experience of riding these fine private cars rather than trying to capture every bit of the scenery along the way on film. Only one private-car passenger spent most of his time taking pictures out of the open Dutch-doors in the vestibules. So it was a quiet, relaxed trip with a fine ambience.
About 8:30 a.m., I returned to my room and went to take a shower. The water was very warm, and the shower was delightful. I then returned to my room and got dressed. At 9:08 a.m., we stopped briefly at the station in Maysville, Kentucky. Maysville still has its classic C&O brick station. A new cable-stayed bridge has been built over the Ohio River a few miles west of Maysville, and the suspension bridge in Maysville that formerly crossed the river into Ohio was being dismantled.
I now walked back to the Royal Street private car, where I spent most of the rest of the morning. Coffee, orange juice, pastries and cereal were available there, so I had my breakfast there and didn't bother eating in the Amtrak dinette. We continued following the Ohio River, with our next stop being South Portsmouth, which has only a small Amshack shelter for a station. We were just over three hours late when we departed South Portsmouth at 10:08 a.m.
At 10:33 a.m., we stopped at the CSX Russell Yard for our train to be serviced. This stop is not mentioned in the timetable, and passengers are not permitted to detrain here, but the Cardinal regularly stops at this yard for servicing. It was very interesting to watch the freight cars being switched in the adjacent yard, where some cars were sorted via a hump (with cars rolling down the hump without being coupled to an engine) and others apparently moved by engines being operated via remote control.
Our next stop was Ashland, from where we departed at 10:59 a.m. Here, the old C&O freight station now serves as an Amtrak passenger station. A short distance beyond, we passed the abandoned Amtrak Catlettsburg station - a small, unattractive station that was built by Amtrak for the Cardinal but abandoned in 1998 when it was replaced by the historic Ashland station. Just beyond that, the original C&O Catlettsburg station was visible to the left.
At 11:20 a.m., we arrived at the Huntington, W. Va. station. Unfortunately, our view of the magnificent C&O station, on the opposite side of the tracks. was blocked by a freight train. The Amtrak station is a modern Amshack-style facility. I walked up to my sleeper and stepped off the train to take a few pictures. I even had a chance to step into the unattractive station, and then reboarded at the coaches. Huntington is a crew-change point, and we departed at 11:25 a.m. after a five-minute stop. Since there is some make-up time built into the schedule between Ashland and Huntington, we were now only two hours and 42 minutes late.
As I was walking back to the Royal Street car at the end of the train, I stopped to say hello to our new conductor. I then heard on his radio that a passenger destined for Charleston had mistakenly gotten off the train at Huntington. The station agent was now radioing the conductor, and arranged for him to drive this passenger to the DK Cabin - about a mile and a half beyond the Huntington station - where the train could stop adjacent to a public street. So, at 11:31 a.m., we stopped and awaited the arrival of the passenger in question. When she finally arrived, she had difficulty boarding the train (in the absence of a platform), but she was finally assisted onboard by an attendant, and we departed at 11:35 a.m.
Soon, we left the Ohio River and began cutting across to the Kanawha River, which we started to parallel about 12:15 p.m. This was the beginning of the most scenic stretch of the trip - although the best was yet to come.
At 12:31 p.m., we arrived at the Charleston station. Here, the historic C&O station has been converted to an office building, and a small addition to the station building now serves as the Amtrak station. The front of the addition has been designed with brick arches that harmonize, to some degree, with the historic station building, but the interior is entirely undistinguished. Unfortunately, a ramp leading to a bridge over the river has been built directly over the station platform, and the entire atmosphere of the station area is somewhat depressing.
I detrained from the Metis car and walked around the station, taking a few pictures. Since the Amtrak dinette was unable to supply meals to all the passengers in the private cars, Adam had arranged for a number of pizzas to be delivered to the train. (A select group of about ten passengers in the private cars, who had paid an extra $100 for this privilege, were served meals on china in the dining room of the Metis, but all other private car passengers had to make do with the pizza, unless they were able to obtain meals from the Amtrak dinette). We spent five minutes in Charleston, and when we departed at 12:36 p.m., we were two hours and 46 minutes late.
About 12:45 p.m., I decided to eat my lunch, as I wanted to go back to the private cars for the New River Gorge section of the ride. I went to the dinette car, where I was served a very tasty beef goulash meal.
While eating lunch, at 1:06 p.m., we made a very brief stop at Montgomery. Montgomery is bisected by the railroad, with the main street running on either side, and the station consisting of nothing more than a narrow platform and a small shelter. When I finished lunch a few minutes later, we were passing Kanawha Falls, just below the junction of the Gauley and New Rivers. I took a quick walk through the coaches to ascertain whether a volunteer guide was aboard to present a commentary on the sights en route (the timetable states that “guides present scenic commentary between Charleston, WV and White Sulphur Springs, WV eastbound on Train 50“). However, as I figured, no guide was onboard. I then walked back to the private cars for the scenic ride through the New River Gorge. (The conductor subsequently mentioned to me that, since it is presented by volunteers, the commentary is presented rather irregularly, and most of the time, no one shows up to present it.)
We were quite fortunate that, despite a forecast of showers and thunderstorms, the weather was actually quite nice, with the sun even shining part of the time. As might be expected, the private car at the end of the train was now quite full, but there were a few empty seats. I alternated between observing the scenery from the luxurious lounge section of the car and going outside to the vestibule to take pictures. Not only is the river itself spectacularly beautiful, but one can also see interesting relics remaining from the area's heyday as a coal-mining center, such as coke ovens built into the hillside. Particularly interesting was the New River Gorge bridge, the second-highest bridge in the world and the world's longest steel-arch bridge. In the middle of the gorge, we are scheduled to make a flag stop at Thurmond, but no passengers appeared, and we did not stop there. (As far I can determine, Thurmond is virtually inaccessible by road, and I'm not sure how passengers can get to the station. Interestingly, the conductor subsequently informed me that one passenger had been scheduled to board our train at Thurmond, but he did not show up.)
The most spectacular portion of the gorge ends at Prince, reached right after passing through a tunnel. Prince features a modern brick station, which was actually built by the C&O Railroad in 1946 to replace an earlier building. When we pulled ahead at 2:27 p.m. after a two-minute stop, we were precisely three hours late.
From Prince to Hinton, we continue running along the New River, but the river widens somewhat. Shortly before we arrived in Hinton, I decided to return to my room for a while.
We made a brief stop at Hinton at 2:57 p.m. This station brought back memories for me, as I detrained there on my first trip on the Cardinal in October 1993, spent the weekend attending a meeting at the nearby Concord College, and returned to New York on Sunday's Cardinal. At that time, the appearance of the station waiting room seemed to have remained unchanged from its appearance when first built over 100 years earlier! Now, I noticed that the station was closed and the windows boarded up, but the conductor told me that the station is being renovated and will remain open to passengers.
I spent the next hour in my room and worked on updating these memoirs. Although not quite as luxurious as the Royal Street car on the rear of the train, my room was very pleasant, and it afforded a great view of the scenery on the right side of the train. After a while, I fell asleep, and woke up during our station stop at White Sulphur Springs, from where we departed at 4:00 p.m., still three hours late.
I now returned to the Royal Street and spent the next hour there. East of White Sulphur Springs, the scenery changes dramatically. Instead of following river valleys, the train now crosses the Allegheny Mountains, passing through a series of tunnels. The first tunnel, which goes under the crest of the mountains, is the longest, but it is followed by a series of shorter tunnels. Of course, you get an enhanced perspective of these tunnels when you can view them from the rear of the train and from the open Dutch-doors in the vestibules. Although quite different from the New River Valley, this stretch of the ride is also very beautiful, with broad vistas down mountain valleys.
When we arrived at Clifton Forge at 4:57 p.m., Adam lowered the steps of the Metis car to permit a passenger who had boarded in Cincinnati to detrain. He would be returning on today's westbound Cardinal and had hoped to ride as far as Staunton, but, because of the lateness of our train, had to detrain at Clifton Forge instead. I walked down to the coaches and reboarded there. Clifton Forge features a large, grey-painted frame station, which I think is still used by CSX for offices. When we departed Clifton Forge at 5:00 p.m., we were three hours and seven minutes late.
I walked through the coaches again, finding that the first coach was open but unoccupied, with a total of about 75 passengers in the rear two coaches. I then returned to the Royal Street car. On the way, the lounge car attendant made the first call for dinner. He mentioned that he has only about 20 meals, meant to be served to the first-class passengers, but about 20 coach passengers also wanted to eat dinner, and he cannot serve any of them until all of the sleeping car passengers have been served their meals.
East of Clifton Forge, the line is entirely single-track, and long stretches of track feature jointed rail, which made for a relatively bumpy ride. The reason for this is that the C&O main line diverged from our route at Clifton Forge and proceeded east to Newport News. The C&O route from Clifton Forge to Washington was always considered a branch, and most of it was never double-tracked.
I remained in the Royal Street car for the next hour, working on these memoirs and watching the scenery go by. As Amtrak's Route Guide points out, we reach the highest point on the route - 2,082 feet above sea level - just past milepost 235. This location is still marked by a rather faded sign along the right-of-way. A few minutes later, at 6:01 p.m., we passed the westbound Cardinal, Train #51. The westbound train - which had a consist virtually identical to ours (except, of course, for the private cars) - was on a siding, while we proceeded on the main track at full speed. Since the westbound train is scheduled to depart Staunton at 5:02 p.m., it was running nearly an hour late.
At 6:06 p.m., we stopped at Staunton, where the former station has been converted into a restaurant. I briefly stepped off the train here, and when I reboarded, I proceeded to the dinette for dinner. As was the case with lunch, I was seated alone and promptly served my meal on a linen tablecloth.
Unlike the two previous meals I ate in the dinette car on this trip, which I consumed rather quickly, I took my time eating dinner tonight. In fact, I remained in the dinette for over an hour, leisurely eating the meal and talking to John, the attendant, and a passenger sitting at the next table who had boarded the train in Staunton and was headed for New York.
John mentioned to me that, until Amtrak discontinued the dining car on the Cardinal several months ago, he managed the dining car. Now that the dining car has been discontinued, he remained onboard to train the other attendants on how to properly fill out their paperwork. John pointed out that every food item must be accounted for, or else the attendant will be personally charged for it. He stated that the paperwork is very complicated, and that it would be necessary to close the dinette car when we arrive in Washington to allow sufficient time to prepare the paperwork prior to our arrival in New York.
John also commented that he had written an off-Broadway play, which was going to be produced soon. When I asked him why he, a successful playwright, still worked for Amtrak, he replied that he was getting paid by Amtrak for working only three days a week, with the other four days affording him plenty of time to write his plays.
I mentioned to John the story I heard several years ago from a dining car employee on the Crescent, who had commented on the pitfalls resulting from Amtrak's purchasing cases of chicken that are measured by weight rather than the number of pieces contained in the case. The cases are supposed to contain 24 pieces of chicken, but sometimes contain 23 or 25 pieces, and the employee had related how there was no satisfactory way that he could account for such a variance. When I told this story to John, he concurred that this could, indeed, be a major problem! I remembered then how I had thought it was so sad that Amtrak can't think of better things to do than force an employee to find a way to account for a missing piece of chicken. Having now heard John's comments, it seems that Amtrak has not made any progress in this regard.
During dinner, we passed a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south, although it had become cloudy, and the view was rather hazy. I also spent some time rereading my travelogue of my trip from Chicago to Washington on the Cardinal in 1998, when the train was made up of Superliner equipment. I found the travelogue fascinating and - if I might say so myself - very well written!
Quite a few people detrained when we arrived at Charlottesville at 7:24 p.m. I stepped off the train and noticed the name of the station agent who was assisting passengers - "G. Harper." Garland Harper, the agent at Charlottesville, is a subscriber to the Railroad List, and I've talked to him a number of times online. My 1998 travelogue related that I tried to meet him on that trip, but that he was off duty that day. Now, I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person!
At Charlottesville, a supply of Kentucky Fried Chicken was delivered to the train to provide dinner for the passengers in the private cars. Adam subsequently informed me that Garland had volunteered to pick up the chicken at the local KFC outlet and deliver it to the train. I was impressed at his positive attitude and willingness to help - quite a contrast with the people in Chicago, who appeared to treat the private cars as an annoyance and were quick to blame the appearance on the train of the private cars for any problems that were encountered by the train.
We spent seven minutes at Charlottesville and departed at 7:31 p.m., three hours and ten minutes late. I now went back to the Royal Street car, where I relaxed on a sofa and worked on these memoirs, while everyone else was eating their fried chicken. North of Charlottesville, we proceeded rather slowly, and we did not arrive at Culpeper, our next stop, until 8:58 p.m. When we departed Culpeper at 9:01 p.m., we were three hours and 26 minutes late.
Shortly before we arrived at Culpeper, I returned to my room. Since it was now after 9:00 p.m. - the time when free calling from my cell phone begins - I made a number of calls. Then, about 9:45 p.m., I returned to the private cars, first sitting for a little while in the front of the Metis and then going back to the Royal Street, where I spent the remainder of the ride to Washington. The car's lights had been dimmed, and only a handful of people were riding in it. The final approach to Washington Union Station was particularly interesting, as you could see the details of the stone-walled brick-arch tunnels that lead into the station from the south.
When we arrived on Track 25 at Washington Union Station at 10:26 p.m., just short of three hours late, I detrained from the Royal Street, said goodbye to Adam, and walked down the platform to reboard my sleeper. I didn't bother going upstairs, even though I obviously had enough time to do so. Eventually, a switch engine pulled the private cars off the rear of the train, our diesel engine was taken off and an electric engine was added, and we departed at 10:58 p.m.
I walked down to the coaches once more, counting 35 people still onboard. On the way back, I noticed that the dinette car had reopened, but the attendant indicated that he would soon be closing the car down to complete his paperwork. I remained in my room for most of the remainder of the trip, working on these memoirs, downloading the over-100 digital pictures that I had taken during the trip, and sleeping a little.
When we departed Washington, there were only three people (besides me) remaining in the sleeper. Two passengers were headed to New York, while the third had intended to change trains at Washington to a Regional train that would take her to Metropark. However, due to our late arrival in Washington, we had missed all the evening Regional trains, and the next train scheduled to stop at Metropark does not depart Washington until 7:05 a.m. Given these circumstances, this passenger informed me, Amtrak agreed to make an unscheduled stop for our train at Metropark to permit her to detrain there.
North of Washington, our station stops - all of which were to discharge passengers only - were very brief, most lasting for less than a minute. After our stop in Metropark, I informed the attendant that I would be detraining in Newark, so that he could open the door for me when we arrived.
At 1:58 a.m., we pulled into Track A at Penn Station in Newark. (I was rather surprised that we were assigned to Track A, the most easterly track at the station, which is normally used for northbound trains only when Tracks 1 and 2 are needed for other trains. At this very late hour, there were no other trains in the station!) I detrained (along with a coach passenger who was destined for Cranford) and walked down the street level. Of course, no public transportation is available to Teaneck at 2:00 a.m., and the only option I had was to take a cab. So I went around to the front of the building, where several cabs were waiting. I was directed to one of the cabs, where the driver and I agreed that the price for a trip to Teaneck would be $44.
I was pleased to discover that the cab driver was a honest person who treated his customers fairly. When I suggested the route for him to take, he gladly followed it, and he expressed his gratitude for his good luck in getting such a long trip with a substantial fare. We arrived at my home in Teaneck about 2:30 a.m., and the driver thanked me when I gave him a $7 tip.
My trip back from Chicago on the Cardinal was a delightful experience, enhanced by the presence on the train of the three private cars. Being able to ride in these cars made the trip really special! I'm sure I would have enjoyed the ride through the beautiful New River Gorge in any event, but being able to traverse it while riding in the luxurious private cars made it a really memorable event. I would have preferred to be able to get home at a more reasonable hour, but I'm very glad that I chose to take the Cardinal back from Chicago!
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Dan Chazin /
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