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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Train Report: The Ride to NYC...

When you plan a trip and purchase airline tickets and schedule time off from work several months in advance, you really have no inkling of what the weather is going to be like, aside from the season. It could rain the entire visit, and we would still be happy to visit our daughter & son-in-law, but in addition to the visit, I was eager to go into New York City. My previous visits had been limited to the confines of JFK International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty. Oh sure, you can see landmarks as you are flying in and out of airports, but to get the real feel of things, you have to be on the street walking amongst the people. Raining would make that suck.

I had no interest in driving into the city - trying to figure out where to park or worse, navigating through the sea of cabs, sightseeing buses, stretch limos and jaywalkers. So, we opted for the sensible way to enjoy different views of New Jersey and to avoid the aforementioned traffic issues in NYC; we took the train.
We drove to a NJ Transit station in Bordentown, a really neat little place worthy of a walking trip to visit the tree lined main street full of shops and well maintained older homes. If I had been blindfolded and dropped off in the center of this town, I'm pretty sure I would have never guessed I was in New Jersey, and that I blame on the stereotypes we see on TV. We were prepared for rain since the areas south of us were getting nailed with storms, and it looked like by afternoon, we would be getting wet.The short trip from Bordentown to Trenton passes right through three or four contiguous state parks. From seeing recreational boats in the canals to swamp lands, the view is green and wide open. Aside from a few scenes in The Sopranos where people were taken out into the sticks to be disposed of, this is a different view than what I expected.We switched trains in Trenton to make the roughly one hour ride into New York's Penn Station. From what little we could see of Trenton, it looks pretty nice - of course, we saw roughly one full block of the city, walking across the street from where one train dropped us off to go inside the station. Who knows, the place could be a dump just around the corner. We got onto a double decker train taking the lower seating section. As we would pass through each station, I was just above eye-level with the platform which gives a view of how close the train slides by just inches from the wall. And during the ride, it was amazing how the view changed almost like the click of a light switch. Finally, I got to see some of the rundown, ugly wasted buildings I had expected more of. Yippie! But the scenery really did change, typical of any place where some sections of town are really beautiful, some places are just run down, and other places are fairly bland. It would be just the same if you drove from one side of the country to the other and never once got off the interstate. You only see just that small sliver on either side of the road, but never get a good feel for what lies just beyond. And that was why I wanted to actually get into the city to see New York first hand.Pulling into Penn Station, the last half mile or so is fairly dirty and ugly. You come from a tunnel into the train yard and it just isn't pretty at all. My wife was pretty much ready to simply sit on the train and let it take her back to New Jersey without even getting off to see anything. Thankfully, inside the station is much nicer! And that is where I'll leave off. More later on Times Square, Central Park, Lady Liberty and such.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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