With the high price of gas these days ($4 per gallon in these parts), I decided to try my luck with Amtrak. I have never ridden Amtrak, but I have quite a bit of experience with train riding in Europe and Asia, and well as uncountable hours on subway systems. Anyway, I purchased my ticket from Penn Station in New York to Huntington, WV. Since I am a student, I applied for the discount card (I purchased a 4 year membership for $40). This discount brought the round trip cost to $158. Had I driven, the cost would have ran around $300-$400, depending if I stayed the night in a motel.
Anyway, the trip to Penn Station from Brooklyn was simple. When I got to Penn Station, I got right on the train and away I went. I had my own double seat — the train was largely empty at this point, however it did fill up as time went on, but I got to have 2 seats the whole 14 hours. During the trip, I was able to use the trains AC socket to power my laptop. From NYC to DC, I could use my AT&T wireless broadband connection to have video chats with Skype, as well as watch the entire Today Show via Sling. Very nice. I would not imagine this is even possible at this point on an airplane. When I got into the mountains in WV, I lost my 3G connection, and EDGE was sparse at best. The view was simply spectacular however. The New river and the rapids it creates as well as the surrounding mountains are really quite nice to look at.
As the trip went on, I became hungry. The food car provided ample snacks, but the 1 hour layover in DC was much better as Union Station there has a very nice modern shopping and eating complex. I was provided with a nice salad and an iced americano thanks to the Starbucks in the station.
The trip home was enjoyable, although I didn’t get to stop at Union Station for a snack. Other than that, it was pretty much the reverse of the first leg of the trip. Overall, I have to say Amtrak gets my seal of approval. They are doing a great job and should be commended for it. I will try my best to use them whenever possible from this day forward.