Two Momentous Weeks

Week 1 Back and There Again

Last time I wrote I was on the way back from Kinderhook, NY, where I’d spent the weekend. After returning to Holland I had about 36 hours of rest before packing up and heading east again, on the same train, this time, in the sleeper car with Char’s parents across the hall.

First, a shoutout to @amtrak for the wonderful service, especially of redcaps at stations in Chicago and Boston.  Now, a report.  We drove to Muskegon on June 1 and switched to the grandparents’ car for the drive back through Holland and to Chicago. Dropped everyone at Union Station’s canal street entrance and then parked the car in a structure a block away. Redcaps got people and bags to the Metropolitan Lounge (a special place for people with sleeping car reservations) and I met them “down there”. (Union Station’s new and wonderful metropolitan lounge won’t open until the end of June, so we just missed it.)

Boarding the train a bit before 9, we were well in place in little rooms for the on-time departure at 9:30.  Stayed up too late, but were all in bed before the train reached South Bend, Indiana at midnight.  Slept until somewhere around Cleveland (around 5:30). Good breakfast and smooth sailing across New York.

Albany station doesn’t get my strongest approval. It’s under reconstruction so is always confusing (out on the platforms and tracks). Things get late there. But, the onward train to Boston waited for us.  The first 10 miles east out of Albany are REALLY BUMPY. We were thrilled to get onto smoother tracks.  Into Boston about an hour late that night, but great redcap service got us to a cab (Hatian driver) to our hotel. We were exhausted!

Next morning, great cab driver (Eastern European) to Boston North Station, which itself was a disappointment. But the Amtrak Downeaster was fine. We discovered onboard that we’d bought tickets for the previous day. Here is where the conductor showed his stuff. He diagnosed the problem, told me what to do (call Amtrak and straighten things out), then took care of everyone else and came back to wait for clearance on the new tickets. He was wonderfully understanding and patient.

The point of this trip was to go to our son’s wedding and take his grandparents along. We got to Brunswick, ME, and waited in the visitors center for pickup.  Drove from there to the resort where the reception would be held, then back into town for rehearsal at first parish church of Brunswick @FirstParishBrun , across the street from Bowdoin College. Pastor Mary showed how easygoing it could be, the two church ladies who ran things were wonderful and friendly.

Rehearsal dinner, lobster and steak, etc. Good people all around. Grandparents of Katelyn (our new daughter-in-law) were great to meet, ditto her parents and about a million other relatives.

Next day (June 4) the wedding was wonderful and the reception was a joyful time. We were impressed that three professors from the Chemistry department of Lake Forest College, who had watched our son Grant grow in relation to Katelyn (who was at Lake Forest, but not in the Chem Dept). They came all the way from Chicago to Maine for the event. WOW. That would not likely have happened had they been at a big university.

June 5, back on the Down-easter, back through the north station, and by way of a cab (wonderful Ukranian driver). South Station redcap (real Bostonian) was gentle, kind, helpful and everything one could want.  Train to Albany left on time, but got delayed on the way. A little adventure in Springfield where a truck going under the rails west of town had been too tall and hit the bridge. Our train waited until things were cleared and the tracks were inspected.

Albany platforms once again a mess, but sleeping car attendants were professional. We had a trainee who did his job well with lots of guidance from his mentor. Same dining crew going west as we’d had the previous week going east. Arrived in Chicago a bit more than an hour late (most of that time was lost in Albany). Another good redcap getting us out to the curb and helping load the car and we were on our way back to Muskegon.





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