Saint Kitts Trip
February 6-15, 2007
In April just after my Portland Trip I decided to visit my friend Kara while she was going to Vet School in Saint Kitts. I decided to take Amtrak to Florida and then American Airlines to Saint Kitts. The train would be the Silver Star to Miami from New York.
On Tuesday Feb 6 I woke up early and was driven to the Glen Head Station where I caught the 735 train to Jamaica where I would catch a connecting train to Penn Station. The train arrived at Glen Head 8 minutes late due to the extreme cold (it was 15 degrees Fahrenheit). Upon boarding I placed my luggage in the luggage rack and then sat next to a friend who was also taking the train. We arrived in New York a few minutes late (during the ride to New York I noticed the consist for train 91 sitting in the yard).
After arriving in New York I went to check my bags and then go to the Club Acela where I dropped off my bags before going to Nathans where I had french fries for breakfast. At 11 AM where were told the train was delayed due to problems in the yard (it turns out one sleeper was frozen and had to be changed).
At 1200 PM the train finally boarded. I went down to my car which was 9110 and went to my room which was room 2. While still in the station my ticket was checked and I went to have lunch. The diner opened as we departed 1:10 late. I sat down and ordered the Angus Burger which was very delicious but was little dry. The service was Very Good and the diner's ambiance was very pleasant with grey walls and new blue fabric on the seats.
During the ride to Washington I walked the length of the train writing down the consist. It was as follows
AEM7-# Unknown (replaced with P42-196) AEM7-# Unknown (replaced with P42-193) Baggage-1252 Sleeper-62012 Sleeper-62048 Sleeper-64047-Mine was room 1 Diner-8502 Lounge-28010 Coach-25046 Coach 25122 Coach-25104
We arrived in Washington 35 minutes late but we were held for some reason for over an hour. I got off to get some air and it was still quite cold but there was little wind since were were next to the Capitol Limited which was acting as a wall due to its use of superliner cars. We departed about 1:05 Late. Just after departure dinner reservations were made I chose the 5 pm seating. At exactly 5 my seating was called and I was served immediately and ordered the cheese ravioli which looked appetizing and was extremely delicious.
Strangely though we encountered no major delays due to freight traffic and it seemed we passed much less freight then usual. At 10 pm I went to sleep and slept quite well.
I awoke around 5am and got dressed. I walked to the diner at 6am but they told me it opens at 630. At 630 I returned and had the Bob Evans Scramble which was very tasty. During breakfast we passed through the Folkston funnel and I noticed a fellow train buff photographing the train.
We arrived in Jacksonville around an hour late so we had not lost much time. At Sanford we waited for 45 minutes for the Auto Train to clear the main and as a result we were now two hours late.
When the train arrived in Orlando I got off for some air and found the air temperature to be quite comfortable compared to New York and actually took of my sweatshirt and left it in my room. Just after Orlando I had the burger again for lunch as we traveled toward Tampa. While going to and from Tampa we had to protect several crossings due to the fact that they were malfunctioning (most likely due to the terrible weather a few days earlier). We lost some more time because of this and were now just over 2 hours late at north Okeechobee and West Palm Beach but we were about to get another significant delay.
Just after leaving Delray Beach the train lost its power and went into an emergency stop. I though we had hit a vehicle but the reason was that the train had broken in two right in front of my sleeper. This cost us another 45 minutes so we arrived at Miami around 3 hours late and with no power. I then took a taxi to my motel and had a good night sleep.
I awoke around 7 am and went to the hotel restaurant to have a breakfast which was an overpriced bagel with cream cheese. I then took the hotel shuttle to the airport where I caught the airport shuttle bus to the train station.
I rode the Tri-Rail to the Metrorail transfer. The Tri-Rail cars were identical to the ones I rode in Dallas in 2004 and San Francisco/San Jose in 2005 but were very dingy on the inside. The Metrorail had very comfortable seats with the ability to look out the front of the train. At a Subway next to the Dadeland South station I had lunch, and observed a grade crossing with no tracks near it. After lunch I rode to the northern terminus. My personal opinion is the Metrorail shows evidence of heavy use and should be expanded and maybe given some newer equipment since the current set was starting to look like it should be replaced and Tri-Rail should wash theirs more often
After Metrorail I rode one of the Metromover monorail-like lines. These have no operators and thus I was able to observe the view out of the front. This service saw a large number of passengers and had a fare the no one could have a problem with ($0.00).
These cars were super comfortable. After dinner I went to sleep to prepare for the next part of the trip which was the international portion.
I woke up and took the 7 am hotel shuttle to the American Airlines terminal. After checking in and checking my bags I took the checked bags to the baggage checkpoint and then proceeded to the passenger checkpoint. The passenger inspection was done very efficiently and the TSA staff were very polite and professional and there were even signs explaining what was being done and and how we would do it. I went through security quite easily with no problems. I then went to a cafe to have a very tasty bagel with cream cheese and a key lime pie.
After breakfast I went to the Admiral's club where I paid for a one day pass which was 50 dollars but was well worth it since I was in a more peaceful area and could check my e-mail.
I also availed myself of the free soda. At 10:45 I went to the gate for flight 2299 but there was no plane there. At this time I also changed my seat to an aisle seat so I could use the restrooms with more ease.
At 11 am the plane arrived from Atlanta and at 11:10 the first boarding call was made. I went to my seat and noticed that the seat was more comfortable then I had expected. At 1135 we departed the gate and taxied to take off (we left the ground at 11:45 since there was not much traffic).
During the flight I was able to change my seat to the row behind me and had all three seats to myself. The food on the plane was quite unhealthy and nowhere near as good as the food on Amtrak. Also the Captain gave a narrative among the route and pointed out all the islands that we had passed on our journey most of which looked real small from 36,000 feet altitude. We landed in Saint Kitts about 10 minutes early and the first thing I noticed was the relatively high humidity.
After going through the required customs and immigration controls I took a cab to Marriott resort. At 5:30 I met Kara and we drove to Mr. X's where I had the Mahi-Mahi which was very tasty. After dinner some of her friends joined us at the hotel where we watched some television. I went to sleep around 1030 pm (1130 pm NYC time)
I met Kara at 9:30 and we then drove to the Brimstone Fort Heritage site. The fort was interesting. On the way passed passed over some unused railroad spurs and saw the overgrown Saint Kitts railway mainline. While at Brimstone I noticed two extremely weak waterspouts form and dissipate. After the fort we drove to her apartment where I met her very playful dog Dido. After a few hours we drove to the Turtle Beach area for dinner and I noticed how the transportation infrastructure was so poor as to make a highway maintenance worker wish for an assignment here. While in Turtle Beach we saw all the local cattle walking along the highway but were unable to spot Wilbur the huge Turtle Beach pig and mascot. Kara then dropped me off at the hotel where I went to sleep.
We again met at 9:30 and went to the beach where I snorkeled while she studied. The beach was quite crowded and there were people selling trinkets and a small bar that had exquisite cocktails. After a few hours we had lunch in the hotel restaurant and then drove to her house where she got ready for a soccer game. We took Dido with us. After the game we went back where I met her neighbor's dogs Tino and Fatty Patty. Dinner was at Ziggies which has these wonderful Teriyaki chicken wings. After dinner I returned to the hotel where I again fell asleep around 10:30
Since today was a school day for Kara I spent much of day relaxing in the hotel pool. I met Kara at 2:30 and we picked Dido up for a drive around the island after having lunch in downtown Basseterre where we saw the national museum (it looked like a few old railroad stations I have seen--that is totally decrepit). The island was very beautiful and the fact that it has a passenger railway made it better. After the drive we dropped Dido at her home and went to a Restaurant/Deli called Gourmet Galley. After dinner I wished her goodbye and then went to my hotel room to pack for my flight early that morning.
The Flights To Miami
I can't say much since the flights were pretty routine except for the thunderstorm we paced between Orlando and Miami. I checked into the Same Days inn for one night. The next day I would begin my train ride home.
The Ride Home
I arrived at the Miami station just as train 98 was departing. I checked my bags and spent some time in the Metropolitan Lounge where I was the only passenger until train 92 was called. When it was called I proceeded to board car 9210 and settled into room 2 for my trip back to New York. We departed on time and the breakfast was served immediately after departing. I had the French toast which was very tasty and not overcooked like several previous times I had ridden Amtrak. After breakfast I was able to record the consist (having written down the Locomotives numbers in Miami)
The consist was as Follows
P42-184 P42-160 1252-baggage 62021-sleeper 62042-sleeper-Mine was room 2 Diner-8505-Temoinsa Interior Lounge-28015 (rebuilt with a dining car-like interior) Coach-25118 Coach-25093 Coach-25034 Coach-Deadhead
After leaving the Tri-Rail tracks we slowed down significantly due to freights and other reasons. On our leg to Tampa we had to again stop and protect the crossings. Just south of Orlando CSX freight had a broken coupler and we lost over an hour. During this time I had a dinner of beef ragout with cheesecake which was very tasty.
The next and last day I awoke at 6 am and we were almost two hours late. I had the usual Bob Evans breakfast with extra sausage. We had to slow down between Richmond and Washington probably due to a massive blizzard that had raced up the east coast. At Washington we changed engines and proceeded up north. At Newark we were held for over an hour since there was no platform space. Eventually we arrived well over 2 hours late. I caught a LIRR train to Jamaica where I connected to the Oyster Bay train home. This was a super fun and a rather unusual trip for me.