The Acela: NY and Back

Train Information

Last Friday John, Mike and I took a trip to NY on the Amtrak Acela. We sat in seats just like the ones pictured below and it was a blast!

On the way down the ticket master/taker/guy told us that we were in a quiet train and couldn't talk. It was like a little slice of heaven. I sat and read and listened to music. Bliss... There were power outlets and the computers came out after a bit.

Every once in a while we'd try to communicate with gestures and it got pretty silly.

The country passed by as we relaxed on the train. Somewhere in CT John handed me my iPod headphones and whispered "look out the window." I put them on, he hit play and all of a sudden I was Benjamin Braddock riding the bus to find Elaine. That music is timeless.

I was blown away with the comfort. It was quiet, smooth, and there are no seat belts. It beats the heck out of flying and is way more relaxing than driving. Even so, I was surprised how much it cost. $233 for a round trip ticket. If I'd driven my Civic and parked in the city it would have been closer to $100. How is it not cheaper to run a train with common infrastructure than to have everyone drive their own infrastructure around? US subsidies are really screwed up...

When we walked out of Penn Station workers were hanging a an advertisement.

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Clearly we were no longer in Kansas... Nuff said...


The Return Trip

One the way home I was planning to finish my book, but the train was crowded. John and I ended up sitting with two professors from Fairfield University. One of them noticed my book and struck up a conversation. The four of us talked all the way to New Haven on all sorts of topics the environment, economy, politics, aeronautics, the physics of pulling a plane out of a dive at mach one, academics, raising kids... Really nice guys.

After they jumped off the train I made my way over to a guy working on an XO laptop. It had been on and open the entire trip, so I figured he might have a solution to the Suspend/Resume bug. Instead of a fix he had 3 batteries. He turned out to be campaign manager for the Free Software foundation. He works on the XO project and was a wealth of knowledge on everything XO. I learned a tun and it looks like there is hope for youtube on the XO. More on that later.


The rest of the trip was a pretty ruckus conversation between me, Mike, John, a freelance photographer, his son, and a Jazz musician/producer and his fiend. Talk about our reasons for travel quickly lead to the economy which lead to politics.

The photographer went on a bit of a rant on his plan to vote for Clinton because he had never heard of Obama doing anything. By, and I'm guessing that this was his logic, the osmotic principal of proximity to his ignorance, he concluded that "No one on the train could tell him one thing Obama had done."

Holy crap did he pick the wrong crowd. The restraint coming from John, Mike and me was palpable. John could have verbally eviscerated this poor guy, so I was a little comforted by the trickle of blood that signified he was biting his lip. I managed to only tell him one thing Obama did.

After that things lightened up a lot. The jazz producer was an older black guy (his words so relax). He was the definition of cool. The coolness probably came from the jazz scene... Anyway, he jumped in with:
"Hillery should totally get Barack as her VP. She could walk down the middle of the street naked... [big pause] There'd be red necks jumpin out of every where to make sure she was OK... Do you have a sniffle Mrs. President? Let me get you something for that..."
Everyone in earshot was rolling in the isles.

I was exhausted when we got home but very relaxed. I don't remember the last time I had that much fun actually traveling. I'll definitely take the train next time I go to NY.