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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October 8, 2009 – Julia’s Coffee – Charlotte, NC

We’re back in Charlotte now. We were away from home five nights and slept in Goodlettsville, TN; Waukegan, IL and Cambridge, OH. It started out to be a trip back to Tennessee with our daughter to attend her high school class reunion. Since we had lived in middle Tennessee for fourteen years we decided to accompany her back and reconnect with friends. The segway to Waukegan came about because we were invited to a 90th birthday celebration for my wife’s aunt.

West 001We decided to return to Charlotte via Ohio and West Virginia hoping to see some fall color along the way. I was really impressed with what I saw of southern Ohio and West Virginia. Contrary to what the popular sterotypes would have you believe, West Virginia is not all Hatfields, McCoys and scenes from Deliverance.

Interstate 77 from Williamstown to Bluefield is now complete.  Although one is in the mountains the grades are gradual and the sweeping curves offer magnificiant vistas.  There were a lot of trucks but for the most part  they stayed in the right lane and kept thier spacing.  We never felt intimidated by them as happens in many other places.

We stopped at the Fenton Glass Works in Williamstown and then again at Tamarack in Beckley.  If you can make only one stop along the way, Tamarack  is the place. http://www.tamarackwv.com/ 

West 005Tamarack is the artisian center for West Virginia.  It is overwhelming collection of local crafts.  Glass, wood, textiles, sculpture, etc. 
chefsdanandjohnThere is a food court there featuring daily specials created by chefs trained at Greenbrier.  That’s where we had lunch.  The food was delicious and was definitely worth the trip.

We arrived back home around p.m. completing an 1800 mile round trip.

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 12:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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