Our day started at the Rayburn Building in Spencer Bachus’s office, our congressman’s who has arranged a guided tour of the Capitol for us, which was full of information, spotting’s of Charlie Rangole, Barnie Frank and Stephen Colbert, and a big feeling of patriotism. We then headed to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown where we met Teeki a woman that Avie had done her residency at UAB several decades ago. We had a light lunch at Furins Restaurant, a small friendly salad and sandwich family establishment.
We then jumped on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to see the sights of D.C. Dinner inUnion Station at The America Restaurant which serves regional foods from all over the US including a “tube steak sandwich”. We got back on the bus for a night tour of the cities monuments.
Saturday started with a light breakfast, Nita and I find that the biggest danger in traveling is over eating and that early restraint allows for later indulgence. So a short walk to the McDonalds and sharing a “Big Breakfast” was jus perfect to start our day.
We were lucky D.C. was holding the 10th annual Book Festival on the Mall this Saturday. Three blocks of the Mall were filled with large tents housed representatives from each of the states and territories promoting authors and literature coming from their respective states. Other tents presented authors from the mutable genres of literature to include Mystery and Romance, Poetry, Children, Teen, and Contemporary. Nita and I happened into the Contemporary tent and listened to Rea Drummond a bloger, housewife, mother, rancher from Oklahoma (www.thePioneerwoman.com) and author. I learned a lot about blogging and decided that I needed to restructure my websites and blogs in an effort to bring all of my websites together.
At noon we met u p with Ron and Avie back at the hotel and walked down to the harbor on the Potomac to have lunch. We had seen the open air seafood market the day before and wanted to try some of the fresh fish and take-in the unique ambiance. We should have sought out the locals and asked for guidance instead we took the easy route and ordered the promoted combination meal on the overhead menu consisting of three jumbo shrimp a crab cake sandwich, slaw and an ear of corn, all for $11.95. It just did not live up to our anticipation. Instead we should have each ordered a dozen steamed shrimp; a dozen steamed blue crab and an ear of corn and then proceeded to get dirty eating the local seafood.
Full but disappointed we headed back towards the mall and parted with Nita and Avie at the La Event Metro station for our trip north to the McPherson Square stop where Ron and I had an appointment to take a 2 hour Segway tour of the Capital. This is the way to see the Capital at 12 ½ miles per hour. Sidewalks, streets and open fields were our path through the city. The Segway was a quick learn and none of our eight co-riders had any problem moving through D.C. on our two hour tour. The tour is a bit pricy at $70 but it is well worth the price. We got back to the hotel around 6:00 PM, just in time to catch the forth quarter of the Alabama – Arkansas football game. Alabama came from behind to remain undefeated.
Dinner was at the hotel, bland and under seasoned is my best description, but we had to get to bed early so that we could catch our 3:15 AM train to NYC where we would catch our 8:00 AM to Montreal. Nita and Avie insisted that we meat in the lobby at 2:15 AM to catch a cab; Ron would call the desk at 2:00AM and have the desk arrange for a cab to pick us up at 2:15 AM. At 2:37 AM we stood in front of the hotel. No cab.
I have found in life that every-so- often someone has to step forward and assume the role of ass-hole or things will not proceed as you wish because it is easer to just let things proceed on
their natural course.
I approached the hotel desk clerk for the second time, “There is no cab.”
“I’ve called twice; they’ve said a cab is on the way.”
“We have a 3:15 train and it’s your responsibility as our host to get us to the train station! Do you have a car?”
“Get your keys and drive us to the train station!”
“I can’t do that I can’t leave.”
“Give me your keys, I need to borrow your car, I’ll leave it in front of Union Station.”
“I can’t do that; I’ll call the cab company again.”
Its 2:42 PM, I look around the lobby and see an older white haired gentleman in a white shirt with a Hotel Logo sitting in a chair on the other side of the lobby, he appears to be the security guard. I shout, “Do you have a car?”
“Yes” he responds in a heavy Irish accent.
“I’ll pay you to drive us to the train station, will you do that?”
He gets up and approaches the desk at a slow pace, “I’ll drive you if he gives me permission,” motioning to the desk clerk, “but I won’t take your money.”
We gain permission from the desk clerk, and I breath a sigh of releaf and feel that once again my Ass-Hole personality served me well.
I announce with pride to my fellow travlers that we are going to make it to the train on time, a good samariton is on his way. At 2:47 our Irish, 72 year old knight in white shirt pulls up in front of the hotel in a subcompact Mazda. One of our bags fills the trunk; there are three more large bags, four carry-ons and four people.
“I’ll make two trips,” he announces.
Avie mutters, “This isn’t going to work.”
While all this was going on a man in an enclosed pick-up truck from a service that delivers lost airline baggage was delivering some lost bags to the hotel. He pulls in behind the Mazda and comes forward and tells us, “I’ll take your bags and follow the Mazda to the train station.”
Ron and I hustle around loading the bags into the back of the pick-up and getting the ladies into the Mazda. “I’ll ride with you in the pick-up.” I announce.
‘There’s no room in the cab,” the delivery man informs me. “Shit this could be the last time I see our luggage,” I think and grab Nita and my backpacks and Ron and Avie’s carry-on and throw them in the back of the Mazda. I turn to the delivery man and ask him, “ you will follow us and bring our bags to the train station, I can trust you can’t I?”
He mumbles something about a “Big Tip” and I feel better.
At 3: 05 AM Sunday morning we arrive at the gate in Union Station and shortly thereafter board our train to NYC. We arrived at Penn station at 7:40 AM and changed trains to continue on our 11 hour trip onto Montréal. The train route follows the Hudson River out of NYC up to Albany passing through cities like Poughkeepsie, Rhincliff and Hudson. As we traveled north the fall foliage started to dot the shoreline adding a colorful contrast to the backdrop of the Catskills and Adirondacks. Ron tells me that we passed West Point Military Academy sitting right on the bluffs overlooking the Hudson River. I missed it, I was asleep as were Nita and Avie.
There are 5 lighthouses on the Hudson between NYC and Albany, the Hudson-Athens lighthouse was placed in service in 1874 and still helps to guide ships safely around the Middle Flats between Hudson and Athens.
In Albany we stopped to change engines needing a diesel engine to provide the power needed to climb the hills that we would encounter as we travel further north. The train traveled at a speed ranging from 79 mph to 100 mph between NYC an Albany and then slowed substancly as we entered the mountains further north.
Just before noon we discovered that the Adirondack #69 train does not have the Dinning Car that we so enjoyed on our trip between Birmingham and D.C. Thus, Nita and I succumb to a micro waved cheeseburger and Hinie Lite while Ron and Avie dinned lavishly on a bowl of Raisin Brand Crunchy.
As we traveled north we passed by the 234 miles of connected waterways that shaped the relationship between the United Sates and Canada in the early years of our country. From the Hudson River and Champlain Canal in the south through Lake Champlain and Lake George, all the way to the St. Lawrence River in Quebec these bodies of water were the source of many conflicts including the French and Indian War 1754 – 1763.
At the Canadian boarder the train stopped for a customs check by the Canadian authorities. As we sat waiting for the officers we engaged an 18 year ”shelia,” Lora, from Australia who told us of her three month journey that has taken her from Australia to England to the US and now one week in Canada then back to the US for visits to Florida and California before returning home. She shared that the highlight of her travels thus far was Nashville. We marveled at her courage to travel by herself staying in youth hostels and with “mates” and family.
Three of the four of us sailed through the brief interrogation by the two Canadian officers. Ron however, was questioned extensively, “Have you spent any time in jail?, do you have any tattoos? , have you ever been arrested?” Ron lied to all three questions and we proceeded on our journey into Canada.