Day 23: New York City to Brantford Ont.
As with all good things they must come to an end at some point and today is that point. So, at 6:10 am this morning I checked out of the Novotel New York for the realitively short 15 block or so taxi ride to Penn station. At this hour of the morning the trip takes less than 10 min down 7th Ave. Penn station by the way is located directly under Madison Square Gardens. After arriving there and doing an airport style checking (minus the really tight visible security) you sit and wait. The Amtrak train that comes to Toronto actually starts in Washington sometime late the previous night or early in the morning and comes to New York. It was 30 min late. By the time we were ready to leave it was 45min late. There was some confusion during the boarding process as to what cars were available to sit in. Some are taken off in Albany. Once this was sorted out things went well.
The train heads north along the Hudson River stopping in such places as Yonkers, Croton-Harmon, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff-Kingston, Hudson and Albany. At Albany there is a stop where the engine and first couple of cars are removed and a new and different type of engine is added. Albany is the Capitol of New York State and to be honest it looks like a dump, at least in the areas that can be seen from the train. As the train leaves Albany station it crosses the Hudson River and the view improves a bit. It still looks old etc but off in the distance you can see the State Capitol buildings and some how it looks out of place (modern) compared to the rest of what you can see. It may be that as with many cities the centre area is old and run down but the rest is better. I hope that's the case.
After leaving Albany the route turns west away from the Hudson river (we never see it again) and stops at places such as Schenectady, Amsterdam, Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester and 2 stations in Buffalo. A lot of this route follows what I think is the Erie Canal and offers lots to look at. Due to a number of reasons including the design of the Amtrak cars picture taking of any kind really wasn't possible so I didn't try. The first station in Buffalo was Depew. As you enter the suburbs you see what seems like miles of car graveyards. These are fields full of wrecked cars with brush growing around them. Really looks kind of ugly. (I noticed the same thing at Albany too.)
After leaving the second station in downtown Buffalo heading for the border crossing in Niagara Falls you go right along the shore of the Niagara River where it starts at Lake Erie, see the entrance of the Erie Canal, and go under the Peace Bridge. The river is followed a bit inland and you can see Grand Island, the Niagara Falls Airforce Base, and other sights. The bumpiest track on the trip is as you approach the Niagara Falls NY railway station. After leaving there (and more bumpy track) the Niagara River is crossed on the downstream of the 2 railway bridges. Being that we've just entered a new country all the Customs and Immigration stuff must be looked after at the Niagara Falls Ontario station. This process took an hour and during this time nobody can leave the train. Once completed the train suddenly stops being an Amtrak train and becomes a VIA Rail train using Amtrak equipment.
Things were getting dicey for time at this point as the train was 45 min late and in danger of missing the connection to all points west in Aldershot at 7:20 pm. Many people got on after the customs clearance in Niagara Falls. It was 6:00 before we left Niagara Falls. Normal stops for this train are St Catherines, Grimsby and then Aldershot. So, in what appeared to be somewhat of a mad dash we went faster than any part of the trip to that point. We never even stopped in St Catherines. When we stopped in Grimsby we blocked a railway crossing and I couldn't see a station. Apparently there isn't one and a gas station near the tracks acts as one. At this point the weather was getting ominous and in another fast trip we went through the northern part of Hamilton and up to Aldershot in what must have been record time. Luckily we made it to Aldershot with 5 min to spare. It was raining, thundering with lightning flashing over Hamiltion during all of this and as we waited for the westbound train. As it turned out there were a number of other people connecting with the same train as me and so VIA had held the other train in Oakville. It arrived and in an even faster mad dash than the other ones made it to Brantford only 10 min late at 8:00 pm. Mom and Dad met me there and home 10-15 min later 12 hours and 45 min after leaving NYC.
This concludes the tale of the Attwood 23 day year 2000 Odyesy. If I did it again I don't think I would change too many things. It was very enjoyable with no real cataclysms (other than a bottle of hair shampoo leaking inside a plastic pouch in my suitcase and getting the other items in there wet and with a shampoo odor during the last part of the trip.) Many thanks to all involved.
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Created: August 30th, 2000.
Last Updated: August 31st, 2000.