After a crazy week at work and some unexpected overtime on Friday we were very much looking forward to being on a train for two days with nothing to do but read and relax. Oh man, we had no clue what we were getting into.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out July 2016, the last day of a convention that Kaila was at in Orlando. She had the book finished before she made it back to Kansas the next morning. When U.S. touring was announced in the Fall of 2017 there was no way that she’d pass up the chance to see it. Plot holes, misuse of magic, and all. She didn’t make the first “lottery” code round in October but made the February round. The earliest tickets that were available were for February of 2019. So here we are: New York City.
Kaila’s sister was nice enough to get up and take us to the train station at 6am Saturday morning. After some coffee we were ready for the first leg of our trip. We had a 7.5 hour train ride to Chicago where we would have a 4 hour layover (is it still a layover for trains?) before the next train. Who knew corn syrup was transported via train? Not us. We did end up getting some reading done on this leg but the novelty of being on a train was still fresh, so we spent a lot of time gazing out the window.
We played a game of chess and Kirk made a friend with the gentleman across the aisle by losing a game of chess to him. Even though this area of the country is familiar to us we enjoyed being able to glance out and see something new.
“…Chicago, Chicago, I will show you around/ I love it”. This was Kirk’s first time here, so of course Kaila introduced him to Gino’s East and Chicago deep dish pizza. Despite the balmy 24ºF weather (we blame the polar vortex), we decided to make the walk over to the shore of Lake Michigan. Our search for an open coffee shop on the way back to Union Station was unsuccessful…who closes a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon in mid-February? We had to choose between McDonalds and Starbucks so we went with the lesser of two evils, the coffee giant. We made it onto the next train for the second leg of our journey, the long ride to Washington D.C.
We rode out of Chicago in the dark which was disappointing because we would have liked to view the scenery in this part of the country. A plus side is that we figured out our Metro route from Penn Station to our hotel. Getting sleep in the coach seats during the 19(+1) hour ride was more difficult than we expected; we might have gotten four hours. We vowed that the next overnight train trip we take, we’re investing in a private sleeper cabin.
Sunrise was near Pittsburgh and we awoke to see large open flames and miles of coal cars. Apart from steel mills, Pennsylvania also has a fair bit of waterfalls, who knew?
Walking through the cars, we realized that Kirk is just shy of half an inch from scraping his head on the roof of the train. Another revelation and it may have been due to traveling in winter, but we suggest bringing a blanket because it got fairly chilly on the train.
This longest leg of the trip definitely wore us out and while we tried napping, we were mostly unsuccessful. So here’s a list of stuff we saw: the Youghiogheny River which it turns out is pronounced “yaw-yaw-gheny”, crossing the Potomac at least five times, then the Appalachian Trail at Harper’s Ferry. Just after this, in the middle of a field, we saw a unique hunting blind in the shape of a hay bale.
Finally, our long overnight train arrived in Washington D.C. an hour and a half after it was supposed to. Our plans to eat lunch and walk the length of the National Mall were foiled by our late arrival; we settled for a food court meal and walking half-way. Fortunately D.C. has coffee shops that are open at normal hours and we were able to try a local cafe instead. We grabbed more food from the food court since we’d be getting to New York City around 10, before hopping on the last train. This leg was mostly in the dark as well so we didn’t have much to see and the wifi was very slow, which means we actually got some reading done.
We made it to New York City and we were ready for a bed but first we had to get to the hotel… Stay tuned for that and the rest of our adventures in the city!