In Which I Ride the Rails! (The Adventure Begins!)

I have so many stories to tell you, I hardly know where to begin! But let's start with this: two years ago, my oldest sister, my hero, was stalked by death. But she won that round, and got miracled back into sweet life, much to the great surprise of her doctors and everyone else, and the delight of her family and all who love her. And so last summer, we returned, triumphant, to the beach in Atlantic City for a sun, sand, and sisters adventure.

Last year, I traveled by bus to Harrisburg where the two of us caught a charter bus to the beach. This year, I decided to make my trip down to visit her by train; and from there, we would catch a bus to the beach. For I am a railroader's daughter, to be sure. I love the sound of a train whistle, and the clickety-clack of wheels upon the rails. You might even say I have creosote and cold steel running through these veins.

So I bought a round-trip ticket from Tyrone to Harrisburg on an Amtrak train called the Pennsylvanian, that runs once each day from Pittsburgh to New York City, and back. (The tiny train stop in Tyrone is actually where my husband and I were supposed to end up, but never did, on our ill-fated fall foliage train trip several years back.) My husband dropped me off in Tyrone around 10:15 in the morning, and I set out on a grand adventure.

I am happy to report that I ADORED it, and I can't wait to ride a train again! The seats were spacious, you could sit anywhere, there were two roomy and pretty clean bathrooms in every car, there was Wifi, and there was even a dining car, which I am sorry to report I did not have time to investigate. I'll do that next trip.

I brought a tiny cooler of my own along in my daysack. It contained a picnic lunch of a B.L.T., cole slaw, and several cold drinks. The seat in front of me had a sturdy tray table on the back that came down quite easily when I unlatched it. I ate my lunch on it and put it back up. If you had a computer, the tray would make a nice work table.

There were several Amish families traveling by train as well, and I saw two little girls a few seats in front of me with their noses pressed against the windows, just like me. I included a photo in the extras of a little Amish boy looking out the back window of our train car.

Many of the Amish got off the train in Lewistown, and got into waiting vans. There are, in fact, people whose job is to drive the Amish around. In fact, my cousin did this for a while. It is called running an Amish Taxi.

As the train came into the Harrisburg area, I was thrilled to see that big views of the river opened up to our side. A bit of advice: if you want the best river views, pick a seat on the left side from Tyrone to Harrisburg; on the right, for the trip back.

I was so excited that I whipped my camera around and clonked the lens against the window, which was not good. It was my own fault, of course, for being so excited that I became careless. So it was, alas, that the train claimed First Blood on my rather new camera. I polished up the lens and while there is a tiny chunk out of it, the injury does not seem to have affected my picture-taking ability at all, thank goodness. *See Update below: the lens is fine!

We also traveled over the famous Rockville Bridge, the longest stone-arch railroad bridge in the world! I took many pictures, as you can imagine, as there was much to see that was new to me. All I can say in the end is that it was awesome, and I recommend it, and I can't wait to do it again!

The train was running on time (actually, for some parts of the trip, it was running 5 to 10 minutes ahead of schedule), and so I arrived at the Harrisburg Transportation Depot, in the photo above (see another view in last year's blip), around 1 p.m. on this day, to find my sister and her friend waiting for me. We loaded my luggage into their car and sent it home, where it would be waiting for me. And then my sister began our walking tour of Harrisburg; for there is much to see there!

You may remember my stories (and just one single picture) of the painted dinosaur art works in Harrisburg last year when I visited. Well, this year, there were DUCKS! Fifteen to be exact. And so we stalked the ducks, and I got pictures of most of them. You may see one of my favorite ducks in the extras.

We visited Capitol Park, a lovely green space around the capitol building itself, and then walked across the Walnut Street Bridge over to City Island, where we enjoyed hot cheesy fries before boarding the Pride of the Susquehanna for a boat ride. It was much more crowded than last year, but we had a delightful ride around the river; the views of the river bridges from the boat cannot be beat.

We headed back to their house for a cookout that evening and the weather was just lovely. My sister, like me, is a certified Crazy Cat Lady, and I got to visit with some of my sister's kitties, including Dexter's sweet mama, JR. (He comes by his pretty white bib and stunningly white paws quite honestly.) As you can tell, it was a rather full day. And the adventure was just beginning!

The big story of this day for me is that I rode the rails, as I have always wanted to do. And so the song to accompany this blip has to be a train song. Here is one I love, though it is on the serious side (is there any train song that ISN'T?). I'm including two versions. The song is Long Black Train. Here is the original music video by Josh Turner, and here is a performance that includes both Josh Turner and Randy Travis. Enjoy!

*Update: About smacking my camera lens on the window . . . A few days later, I was sitting in the backyard looking sadly at my camera lens, and it looked sort of . . . smudgy. I cleaned it, and the thing I thought was a chunk out of the lens was just a SMUDGE! The lens is fine, HOORAY!!

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