So in an hour and a half I’m off north from Charleston to DC via the Palmetto Line — and hopefully we’ll be reasonably on time! If I get a chance to I’ll liveblog a few impressions here and there — I really do like train journeys in general and this all-day one suits me just fine. I’ve got a lunch pretty much packed and ready to go courtesy of the great chef down at Blend, a good lunch/dinner spot not far from my aunt and uncle, and I’ve got books, music, etc. — all I need. Hope your day runs as well as I hope mine does! Updates will be posted below in reverse chronological order [EDIT: just to make it read more clearly now, this has now been edited to be in chronological order from the top, but the content of the posts remains unchanged]:
10:10 am — off and running! Train arrived in good time, boarding was pretty swift, got two seats to myself for the moment and there’s an outlet next to the window if I need a recharge. A little bumpy but that’s how it works, and the air conditioning works just fine. I am expecting some delays by default but so far so good! Just chugging away from the Charleston area further upstate for now…
11:00 am — now in Kingstree, SC and a bunch of folks are boarding in good time. First hour all good except for the only crying kid nearby that inevitably will prompt many of us to have somewhat unpleasant thoughts. Scenery’s been nice, nothing unexpected but a few nice moments amid the trees: corn fields, a canal, a horse ranch. All as relaxed as I could hope, kid aside. (I could move, sure, but better the devil you know…)
11:16 am — first stop on the line to, I assume, let an opposite train pass. Much later than I expected such a moment, really. I’m guessing arrival could easily be up near 10 pm or so in DC, but hey, leaving Charleston on time was a bonus already!
11:30 am — we’re pulling into…well, some place, easing up to the stop. Lake City by name, at least its more rundown side. Though now we’re picking up speed. Could have just been a pause!
11:46 am — and we’re about at Florence, SC, the biggest stop since Charleston. Apparently a pretty big group of passengers due so I won’t be surprised if I get a seatmate here shortly. Really great run so far, only thing to complain about is that the PA seems to be out in this car but that’s a small point with the attendants being all over the place. Even the loud kid is asleep — for now! — and I just finished listening to the Simply Saucer reissue. A little hungry but I’ll wait on 1 or so for lunch, need to stretch things out here a bit.
12:23 pm — been making good time since Florence and my seatmate is engrossed in reading so hurrah for that. Little change in the general scenery of fields, trees and roads plus the occasional hamlet. Some old buildings and rusted out tractors or more to be seen. Andrew mentioned yesterday this was one of the nation’s poorest states and I admit I can see it, though it isn’t as desperate as southern Arkansas felt. In a thoughtful mood, doing a bit of reading and catching up with folks online, a bit of melancholy in my head. It happens.
12:33 pm — at Dillon, SC, liking the train station. Keep an eye on the Flickr stream for uploads.
1:21 pm — well into North Carolina now and haven’t stopped since Dillon. In fact there was a freight train stopping for us, a rare sight indeed. Had my lunch and feel agreeably stuffed, maybe too much so. Need to work some of all this good eating off! It’s all been easygoing for a while now, scenery unchanged but with some random highlights, like the semi-swamp spot with bare and stripped trees rising out of the midst, not to mention a few abandoned stations, some in small towns, others on spurs in the middle of nowhere, who knows originally for what purpose. Slowing down a touch now, not clear why, but I’d guess it was a regular thing, perhaps a station is much nearer than I can tell.
1:39 pm — pulled into Fayetteville and taking on people. All kinda nondescript but there’s a sign for an Airborne and Special Operations Museum nearby, which is perhaps apt.
5:40 pm — well that was something to learn! Apparently AT&T thinks there’s nobody between Fayetteville and Petersburg. This curiosity aside, all still well here, running about half an hour or more behind but that’s more than acceptable given my expectations. Some lovely views along that interim stretch, including going over some raised tracks over low swamps and even a small town. Curtains drawn to block out the sun and Richmond forthcoming…
6:11 pm — my friend Eve questions the existence of people in that stretch of land noted in the previous post. I assume the barns, roads and cars mean something. Train stop to let another Amtrak train pass — I’ll allow for that — and it is on into Richmond.
6:52 pm — at this point I can afford to indulge in the tinier kind of gripes, ie, why can’t the curtains on the windows here fully meet in the middle instead of having a big enough gap to let the setting sun glare in on my face? Yes I am the new Dave Barry. Or alternately, the new Mark Russell, minus the songs.
8:14 pm — home stretching it now and I’ve little to add beyond kicking myself at missing a slew of great sunset scenes. Snagged an okay one and it’s going up on Flickr. Otherwise I should be at Union Station within an hour and hanging with Tombot shortly thereafter. Works for me! Another blog post tomorrow maybe, otherwise have a good evening…