Penn Station. Pennsylvania station. The half-renovated basement rec room of New York City transportation. All Amtrak trains leave from this dim warren. There isn’t a choice. Thread your way underground to the Amtrak departures board and wait there for the track announcement. New York to Chicago, Lakeshore Limited. Yes, there are lounges with seating, but you are about to sit down for eighteen hours, and the auxilary departure displays are sometimes delayed. Did you buy food before you got here? It’s a long trip. You should have. If you haven’t, buy food now.

Train Food

It gets dark in upstate New York, and the porters walk the aisles dispensing pillows in disposable sleeves. Pillows don’t mean a night’s sleep, and don’t expect one. Nap, jerking awake long enough to stare at Cleveland in the dark. When you get tired enough to sleep again you will.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY: Feeling morally superior to people with more luggage than you.

5 Comments on "NEW YORK, NY TO CHICAGO, IL"

  1. I took the Lakeshore Limited from Albany to Chicago last year — never again. The jerking and pitching were horrible. When I finally fell asleep, I woke up repeatedly from my head banging against the window. Turns out the delays, and probably the track conditions, are because there’s no commitment to passenger rail and the passenger trains are required to give way to the freights.

  2. That looks suspiciously like the Rochester Amtrak station to me.

    Rochester is a somewhat dreadful place. It is composed of an urban core which no one cares to visit and a university-yet-not-even-fake-bohemian outer region.

    Though honestly all my Rochester train experiences have been with it as an origin(towards New York, real New York) or as a destination(from New York, real New York). I go to school there at times. The school is not a bad place.

    But as a sidenote to the one called Tom, I find myself in Albany by odd coincidence at this very moment and for the near future. And as for my experience regarding Amtrak – though I’ve never tried the Lakeshore Limited – it’s fundamentally similar.

    And Penn Station is pretty much the second most dismal Amtrak station I’ve ever met, with the Rochester one being worse. So much worse. Not even a doughnut purchasing kiosk in Rochester. Not a one.

  3. I don’t know if you win a prize for knowing that’s Rochester or get a prize taken away from you.

  4. That train station is merely a burned-in memory that happens to match the photo. It’s an unforgettably dreary scene.

    I do hope I don’t lose a prize, though, I only have one left. It’s my second place medal for “best insult using made-up words”. Mine was “Hourly employee of a snickling bogswisher!” First place was won by “You post-ironic hipstervore.” And it cut me to the bone. The mark of a truly good, directed insult is not that it enrages you, but that it casts your self in the stark light of truth.

    Third place was “barking footledumpling.” Runner-up was “Poockling splickmonger.”

    There was another contest for “best programming language design-related insult”, but it is probably of less general interest. Though I still liked “You deprecated method of the lower class!” because it had some social commentary in it. Kind of.

  5. What’s your problem with Lake Shore Limited? I take this train whenever I travel to Chicago, at least one way (or both ways if time allows), and I enjoy it! Even a coach seat of Amtrak’s long distance trains is much more comfortable than a bus seat or an airplane seat (on short domestic flights).

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