Cross-Country: Day 1

Today is the first of my four-day railway trip across the United States. I left my Virginia home for Washington DC, to see Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This portion of the trip was taken on the Northeast Regional and the Capitol Limited trains.

I woke up this morning to a snow-covered yard and freezing cold rain. My bags were already packed and I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep again. I was super excited to see America! After running out to Chipotle and Wawa for my final supplies, my mom and I headed to the train station. By this point, it was pouring rain despite being only 35° outside. I went to the platform and waited.

The first leg of my trip started in Fredericksburg, Virginia and was a short 1.5 hour trip to Union Station in Washington, DC. The train arrived 10 minutes late and was completely packed. I grabbed a seat next to some stranger and ate my burrito. Thankfully that ride was over quick and I had to spend a few hours at Union Station. I don’t mine it very much, other than the very creepy homeless people who live in the station and sleep in the waiting gates. I found the safe gate and played with my phone for a bit, really excited for the next leg of the trip.

At 3pm, I went over to the Capitol Limited gate, which is the train that goes to Chicago. I waited in line for about half an hour and it finally came time to board. After walking what seemed like a mile in DC’s freezing cold rain, I finally saw it. This train is huge, in height and length. I made my way onboard and climbed the strangest staircase until I found my seat. For whatever reason, they assign seats on this train and I was placed next to a very kind gentleman, who told me a bit about trains and his adventures on the Appalachian trail. He made his way off and I got the window seat. This is actually the nicest train I’ve ever been on. It has tons of legroom in what are basically La-Z-Boy seats and a very relaxing ambience to it. The train rolls forward and gently rocks back and forth the whole time.

There wasn’t very much sunlight to go around in the middle of December, but I got the chance to see most of the terrain until Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Everything is blanketed in snow. The sky was a strange blend of colors until it was finally dark. So dark, that I’m sitting here writing this and I have no idea if I’m in a tunnel or not.

Once we arrived in Cumberland, Maryland, I decided to step off the train for a few moments to get my feet into the six inches of snow! It was the first time I’ve seen that much snow in many years and it was fantastic! After that, my evening was pretty uneventful, as it was mostly spent in cell-dead mountain passes with tracks that are about as straight as a kindergardener’s artwork in Pennsylvania.