Today I have a guest contributor, Diane Sprole, who recently took an overnight train to Syracuse, NY. I asked her if she would share it with you. As you may know by now, I love when people try new stuff, so “Congrats Diane”, you did it!
With a little uneasiness and the feeling of “Can I do this by myself?” I went online and booked my all-night train trip from Chicago to Syracuse, NY. We have a second home near our son’s family and my husband, Paul, was already at our “Lighthouse Red House” (affectionately named by New York grandson) and I wanted to join him without driving all the way alone. My good friends, Carol and Judy, drove me to Union Station.
There is only one train per day from Chicago to Syracuse. It departs at 9:30 PM and arrives the next morning at approximately 11:30 AM. Since I was a first time solo train traveler, the girls hung with me until I could board. We found Union Station to be quite a place. It is a beautiful building to visit even if you weren’t going to get on or off a train – a Chicago landmark in fact. Of course, any area where people gather is of interest to me since I love watching people and trying to visualize their life stories. And, there’s always a little excitement or maybe anxiety in the mix since travel is involved.
The woman behind me in line, a veteran overnight traveler, seemed to be the perfect candidate for some “What is this overnight trip really going to be like?” conversation. She allowed a photo of the two of us and suggested that taking two Tylenol PM before the trip is always helpful. Problem #1: I didn’t have any!
After boarding a little before 9:30 PM, I settled into my coach seat and began a short conversation with my seatmate, who had the window view; I had the aisle. She was young, soon to graduate from a college in Chicago, soon to be an engineer, and believe it or not, will actually work on train engines when she begins her job for G.E. in Erie, PA. She was quite an interesting sleeper or an attempted sleeper, I must say. She used more positions in a coach seat than I ever dreamed possible. Nevertheless, she was a charming person and I enjoyed all our little tidbits of talk throughout the 13 hour trip.
During the night, most passengers attempted sleeping. I tried, but with only a small amount of success. Actually it really was more fun to just watch and listen to others. The young man across the aisle from me, let’s call him “Hoodie” because I never saw his head, entered into an hour long, very deep phone conversation with, I assume, his girlfriend. Evidently, she thought he had done something wrong in their relationship and he was trying to patch it up. I swear he must have said, “I apologize” more than 50 times. I really wanted to forgive him and help them both move on!
I did get up to use the restroom a few times. It WAS 13 hours. Certainly because I had to, but also because it was good to stretch my legs. …and just like any little person somewhere new…I really wanted to see the bathroom, too.
About 7 AM I made my way to the dining car and enjoyed a delicious, elegant and economical breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and toast with juice and coffee. I was seated at a table with a man from Texas and a woman from New York. We dined and conversed our way from Buffalo to Rochester, I think.
Excitement was building as we railed closer to Syracuse because I knew my husband Paul, son James, and grandson Ryan would be there to meet me. When the conductor shouted “Syracuse!”, we joyfully stood. My seatmate kindly retrieved my carry-on suitcase which had ridden above me on the rack, and we held on tight until the train came to a stop. I disembarked and walked into the newly remodeled Syracuse train station.
There they were – my family! I did it – solo overnight train travel from Chicago to Syracuse, N.Y. What a great experience! I highly recommend it!