Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Home from Maine 2022 Day 0 - Getting to Maine

 We went to Maine on the train!

Here we are, all packed up and ready to go at home.

We rode our bikes to the Amtrak station in Baltimore. Where there is this giant statue outside that many people don't like ("The Transvestitute"), but which I do. (Yay Pride Month) Nonetheless, there is talk of making it go away. I'm glad it's still there. 

Breakfast was a bagel from the Dunkin' Donuts in the station.

Max was full of irritation about train stations. "Why is every station called Penn Station?" From the Pennsylvania Railroad. I had to explain to him that once upon a time back in the day there were multiple railroads that provided passenger service, so the stations were named after the railroad so you would get on the right train. Unless all the railroads in town teamed up and built one station to share, which would then be called Union Station. "Where is there a Union Station?" In DC, for example.

This is the first time I've brought bikes on a Northeast Regional train. Amtrak has only just allowed this. Bikes on Amtrak are great - it's super easy when you can just ride up to the train and put your bike on it. But it is confusing, because each train is different. Sometimes you hang the bike in the baggage car yourself. Sometimes you give the bike to a baggage handler, who hangs it in the car. Sometimes the bike goes in the coach car. That's what happens on the Northeast Regional. 

But when the train came, there was nobody to explain what to do. So we just walked on the train and put the bikes in the disabled seating area since the train was leaving.

When the conductor came to check our tickets, he said there was a bike hanger on each car, but as long as no disabled person needed the space they would be fine here. I noticed there was baggage stacked in the bike space.

This seemed dubious to me, and when the crew changed in New York, the new crew said it was indeed very dubious, but they would let it be as long no disabled person needed the space.

The Northeast Regional only goes to Boston, and you have to take a different train, the Downeaster, to get to Maine. The Downeaster leaves from a different station than those served by the Northeast Regional. So you have to ride your bike a couple miles through the middle of Boston to get from one station to the other. Google maps says it takes 20 minutes, which turned out to be true. We had 50 minutes to do this according to the Amtrak schedule. Assuming Amtrak is on time. 

And sure enough, by somewhere in Connecticut, the Northeast Regional was a half hour behind, and Max and I were getting pretty nervous. But they made it up, and they were only 5 minutes late at Boston.

It was a scenic ride through Boston Commons and Beacon Hill. 

For some reason the Modern Lovers album automatically started playing in my head. We got to North Station with plenty of time to spare, which we spent watching pigeons.

You know, there are many, many dysfunctional things in Baltimore, but there are no pigeons walking around in the train station.

The conductors on the Downeaster, helped us hang our bikes safely, in the proper locations. 

They also thought just parking the bike in the disabled seating area was dubious. "It will be a missile if there is an accident." <- spoken with a thick Maine accent. They cast aspersions on the lack of professionalism of the Northeast Regional crew.

Here is a random Amtrak locomotive with a custom paint job, which for some reason is parked in Portland, Maine.

So we are in Brunswick, Maine, at the Brunswick Hotel, which is very nice and across the street from the train station. 

It was a long day of travel. Fourteen hours door-to-door.  But we are now well rested and ready to set out.

Here's the Strava track going to Baltimore.
Here's the Strava track in Boston.

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