Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 10.30.15
Just Outside Washington


Night rain to Hog Butcher

Bernie, our faithful limo man, let us out right in front of Union Station to catch the 4:05 p.m. Capital Limited to Chicago. We walked through the main hall to check our bags; two couples were ahead of us in the line. With that done we made the short walk to the gate area to wait for our train to be called. We were early so we watched the crowd come and go as they caught their trains. The Capital Limited was called, and we lined up at the gate, had our tickets checked, walked past a dozen cars to board the car and find our seats.

Cars and seats were assigned based on destination; this all took ten minutes, max. No TSA agents, no scanners, and no pat downs were endured.

We had chosen to travel coach, and while our seats were not assigned, they were guaranteed. We settled into the seats, which reclined and had more space than first class on most planes. However, Kathy and I were in agreement that the seats we had on our Canadian train were more comfortable; and we missed the free blanket, pillow and eye mask.

Our seats were on the upper level and provided a good view of the back side of Washington as we moved north from Union Station. On the way to the first stop, Rockville, MD, one of the Amtrak staff - - there do not seem to be Conductors, Porters, etc. any more - - came through the car checking tickets and scheduling dinner seating in the dining car.

One reason we chose coach was that we got to see our fellow travelers and interact if we chose. A second reason was the cost - - a one-way ticket from Washington to Chicago cost $88.80. (Airfares for nonstop coach to Chicago range from $128 to $231 depending on time and airline.)

Cell phone use was allowed in our car and not obnoxious. However, I could have done without the lady who made six calls to someone in her family about depositing a check for someone else in the family. I guess she never heard of direct transfer.

We watched the scenery along the Potomac River and then crossed it, making a stop in Harpers Ferry, WV; we could see the buildings along Washington Street about two blocks away. From there we went to Martinsburg, WV and on to Cumberland, MD. We had gone to dinner at 7 p.m. at sunset, just before arriving in Cumberland. We were seated with a couple from the Chicago area, who had been in Washington researching Nazi archives from WWII. This made for an interesting conversation.

The dinner menu had steak, chicken, salmon and pasta; not gourmet but not bad. We missed the china dinnerware of old, but we survived.

We spent the night sleeping in our seats, waking up several times and moving about to get comfortable. It was okay. Dawn found us rolling through the Indiana farm country and passing through small towns. Breakfast in the dining car offered; eggs, bacon, French toast, fruit, granola and more.

The last part of the trip was through the Indiana manufacturing area south and east of Lake Michigan. These rusting factories made me wonder: "Do we make anything anymore?"

The Capital Limited was 30 minutes behind schedule for Chicago, which we conveyed to Steve by cell. Getting the bags and moving out of Union Station to the street was a piece of cake. Nice trip.