There is only one northbound train departing Norfolk each day, and if it wasn’t departing at 6:10am, I would’ve been glad to take it. Instead, I continued my adventure by commuting by bus to their next station tucked out of the way somewhere in a residential area in the western part of Newport News.
The good news is: their 7:35am Thruway-Bus came reasonably on time and got us to the station well ahead of schedule. The bad news is: said station is a tiny, non-descript concrete building with only: a ticket window with adjacent Quik-Trak machines, 20 chairs, one television and a pair of restrooms. There was no restaurant or gift shop, but they did have a pair of vending machines (not that I could get even remotely close to them with all the people\luggage crammed into that one room, but they were there).
I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the kind of station they were building at Norfolk. God, I hope not.
Train 94 started boarding at 9:14am and within 10 minutes we were on our way to Williamsburg (which has a nice looking station from the outside, but the old guy on the platform with the Camcorder kinda creeped me out). From there, we continued our journey north and west with every sway, stop and jerky start feeling like a fresh punch in my still ailing stomach.
After a series of starts, stops, slow-downs and delays, train 94 finally pulls into Richmond around 10:45am. It was a shift change stop so I took the opportunity while we were stopped to go into the restroom and at least TRY to get rid of whatever shrapnel was ripping my insides apart. I hung my head over the sink, focusing on a spot near the drain and just as I almost felt something come up…
BAM, BAM, BAM!
The shock of this causes me to not only lose my concentration, but to nearly hit my head on the overhang. It also made me realize this wasn’t going to happen this time either, so I unlocked the door and to my surprise found no-one waiting on the other side. I made it back to my seat just as the train started moving again.
I will say this: Northern Virginia is actually very pretty… once you get past the ugly warehouse\industrial landscape of modern Richmond. Unfortunately, it soon lends itself to the highways, warehouses, strip malls and sub-divisions of the encroaching DC suburbs.
We pull into Quantico station at 12:55pm. Truthfully, I’d been trying to sleep for the past two hours, but between my stomach flu, motion sickness and a very unhappy two-year-old sitting two rows behind who started wailing every time the train stopped or jerked forward (which was every 5-10 minutes). Seeing this as another losing proposition, I made my way over to the dining car for a microwaved Panini, bottled water and a bag of chips. I figured they wouldn’t help me feel any better, but starving myself until I got to Baltimore seemed like an even worse idea.
We pulled into DC’s Union Station at 2:18pm after getting a very good of the Capitol in passing. It was a twenty minute stop, but, more importantly, I knew it was only 90 minute commute back to Baltimore. My Amtrak journey was coming to an end, pity I was too sick to enjoy it.