Riding the Rails

Although my BW objects to the term, I crossed another item off my bucket list. We rode the Amtrak Carolinian from Charlotte to Raleigh and back again.  We have long-time friends that live in Raleigh and so we combined the train ride with a chance to visit with them and have lunch together.

The Carolinian departs Charlotte at 7:30 am so we wanted to be at the station by 7:00. When we got there, the parking lot was overflowing and the line was coming out the door.  Then we realized that this was the 4th of July weekend and there were a lot of folks going other places.  We were told that the train was oversold and they had added an extra car. Fortunately we had purchased business class tickets online and all we had to do was slide the printed bar code under the reader at the kiosk and our tickets were printed out. 

As we boarded the train we were greeted courteously by the train crew and directed to our seats. The seats were comfortable and featured reclining backs, footrests and pull-down trays.  The conductor came by and offered us complimentary beverages and a newspaper.  Next came the pillows.  This was a first-class operation.

We passed through Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham and Cary.   It was sad to see the abandoned factory buildings and warehouses along the way, reminders of the rich NC  heritage of furniture, textiles and tobacco.  It was however encouraging to see what Kannapolis had done, building the North Carolina Research Center on the site of the old Cannon Mills. 

 http://www.ncresearchcampus.net/

We arrived in Raleigh just before noon and had a very pleasant visit with our friends which included an insiders tour of the NC state senate chamber and a canopy shaded rooftop lunch.  An after lunch tour of the reviving historic Oakwood area with it’s Victorian homes is also worthy of note. 

We boarded the return train around 6:00 pm.  There is a snack car on board with sandwiches, etc.  Since we had a late, languishing lunch, we were content to share a turkey on wheat and more free coffee.

We had the opportunity to talk with several of the NC train hosts during the trip.  This is a volunteer group sponsored by the NCDOT rail division. 

http://www.bytrain.org/passenger/hosts.html

I had read of this service in Our State magazine.  They are ambassadors, representing the state to both residents and people passing through.  The bottom line is that I have applied to be a host and am awaiting acceptance and training.  Maybe I’ll see you on the rails in the future.

We got back in Charlotte around 9:30, resolving to ride the train again.

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Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 11:05 am  Comments (2)  
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Ramblin’ on the River

Taking a breather

This week, the BW and I visited the newly opened Riverfront trail in Rock Hill, SC.  The trail is the first phase of Riverwalk, a planned 1000 acre residential and commercial community along the Catawba River on the site of the former Celanese “Celriver” plant.  I was particularly interested in seeing what had been done, as I had worked as an engineering contractor at the site. 

http://www.assuredllc.com/riverwalk_rh1.html

The trail head is accessed from Dunkin’s Ferry Road just south of  where US Hwy 21 crosses the river.  The 30 spot parking lot is in the shadow of the now abandoned river water pump house.  A reminder of the days when Celanese was a major employer in Rock Hill. 

The 2.8 mile paved trail affords views of the many shoals along this part of the river.  Benches and chairs carved from tree stumps are conveniently placed along the trail proving a place for resting and meditation. Walking, running, biking and roller blading are allowed — it didn’t say anything about skateboards.    There is also river access for canoes and kayaks.  Interestingly enough, fishing is not allowed.

The trail is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer.  The trail is part of the Carolina Thread Network, an ambitious project to connect the communities of the Carolina piedmont via walking trails.

http://www.carolinathreadtrail.org/

We definitely plan to go again.

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 9:19 am  Comments (1)  
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