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. 


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. 


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.

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