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Cross Country Trip:JAC-DC

Jacksonville to Washington DC

The Silver Star arrived at 9:40pm and they did some car switching for departure at 10:30pm. This time I was in coach and I didn't get any sleep due to my long legs crammed against the seat in front of me. The train was full so I didn't get two seats to myself. The guy next to me snored and.....what was that smell? The coach car attendant was real nasty. Cold as ice and couldn't care less about you. You were just assigned a seat number on her roster sheet. She COMMANDED me to sit in a certain seat as I boarded and I'm glad it was a window. To the contrary, I had to climb over my neighbor to get out to use the restroom. I don't mind coach if it is a day ride only. I just can't stretch out to sleep. The Amfleet coaches in the east have television monitors all along the top luggage rack spaced about 5 feet apart and angled towards the occupants cross aisle to the monitor. Likewise on the opposite side. A standard pair of walkman headpho nes is plugged into a jack in the armrest to hear music channels or the video being shown. Half of the seat headphone jacks and volumes were broken too! What a low-class train.

April 6th.

Arrived in Raleigh, NC on time and I got off with four hours to kill. Why did I get off and not ride through to Washington? I have a half sister in Raleigh and I had made plans to spend a day there to visit with her and catch following day's Silver Star to Washington DC. With arrangements made and tickets bought, she called me up four days before my departure to uninvite me, as she got a last-minute offer to go out of town to a family reunion for Easter. Great. Couldn't ride straight through to Washington DC because the train was full after Raleigh, sleepers and all. Best bet was to get off and catch train #80, The Carolinian at 11:55am. That's what I ended up doing. In the meantime I decided to explore downtown Raleigh. It is a nice city except the depot is in a real crummy part of town with bums loitering about. Four blocks away, downtown Raleigh with tall buildings, clean sidewalks with no transients in sight. There were no luggage lockers so I had the station attendant stash my bag in the ticket office so I could walk around hands free. I weathered my way past the panhandlers outside the depot and walked around downtown until it was time to go. While downtown, I bought a postcard and sent it to my half sister to make a point. I didn't get hassled by the bums on the way back into the depot because the cops were hauling one of their friends downtown and they had him over the hood of the police car cuffing him! I scooted on by the scene without looking back and headed into the station. I must admit, I did NOT bring clothes for the cold. I just brought some short-sleeved shirts and a light windbreaker jacket. The Carolinian arrived on time and I was under way once again.

Consist of The Silver Star:

It began to rain as we headed north. Most of the trees hadn't begun to blossom yet so winter was still in the air. Aside from listening to the scanner and reading All Aboard!, there was nothing much to do on that train since there was no lounge car. Just a Dinette and I was not hungry as I was still full after the heavy meal I had in Jacksonville. The train arrived in Washington DC about ten minutes late and I took the Metro out to Vienna, VA to my sister-in-law's house where I spent the night. Ahhh, a non-moving bed and REAL shower! The Metro in Washington was very clean and easy to find one's way around. The trains accelerated quickly and were quiet, just like San Francisco's BART.

Consist of The Carolinian:

April 7th.

I didn't wake up until 8am...er, 9am due to the change to daylight savings time. After a real shower and great breakfast at a local bakery, my brother-in-law who lives nearby gave me the grand tour of DC in only a few hours! It was real cold with weather moving in so we just drove around and I would snap pictures along the way when the usual tourist shots came up. We went to Arlington Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Actually there are three of them inside I think. Other stops included the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. Got a picture of the whitehouse from a loooong way off because the street that goes directly in front of it was blocked off when a crazy man shot up the Whitehouse with an simi-automatic assault rifle. Lastly we went into the National Aerospace Museum and that took up the rest of the time we had before heading to Union Station. I was quite surprised to learn that the museums in Washington DC were free admission. In England and most of Europe, you are charged at least $10 just to get in. I remember I wanted to get into the Tower of London and they wanted 30 pounds!!! That's about, depending on exchange rates, $45!! I'd never pay that to see a museum. The Smithsonian will have to wait until I can spend a week in DC to go through it.

Santa Barbara to Jacksonville | Washington DC to Chicago

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