Back on the train: Harpers Ferry to Pittsburgh!

5/9/22

What a full day!

The sun finally came back out in Waterford this morning, leaving us with a glorious last day for me to spend with my folks. It had been a wonderful week at the homestead, and it was finally time to move on today.

We had a leisurely breakfast together, then headed out in the early afternoon to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia again. That’s where my train would depart from, but first, we had to try the highly acclaimed vegan restaurant Kelley Farm Kitchen, which coincidentally sits only a few hundred yards from The Barn, where I had attended my high school classmates’ birthday party just two days ago. (What are the odds?? I’ve only been to Harpers Ferry a handful of times in my life, and the previous time was nine years ago.)

Our meals were as delicious as we had hoped, and the portions were very large, so I took half of mine with me on the train and ate it for a late dinner.

After the meal, we went down to walk very briefly around the deeply historic town of Harpers Ferry, before getting my rig across the tracks and ready to board when the train (also very briefly) would stop, arriving from DC.

We said our farewells on the platform, and my parents and the conductor helped me to load my rig onto the train. Fortunately, despite the (unusual) lack of space in the luggage racks, the conductor seemed entirely unperturbed about it, and simply stood the trailer up and propped it against the wall, in the common area right next to the exit door. I guess he must have moved it out of the way of boarding and departing passengers at each stop along my route—no simple feat, with its bulky dimensions and 72-lb heft. Yay for easygoing, solution-oriented conductors!

The scenery along this train route was breathtaking in the evening light. This is a gorgeous part of the country. I wish it were easier to take clear photos from a moving train with dirty windows, but I trust you can still get the gist. There were also several sections of magical wooded hills directly outside the windows, with the evening light slanting through them. Sadly, those scenes are nearly impossible to capture on camera, but I enjoyed them in the moment.

We paralleled waterways for nearly the entire 6-hour ride, and it was beautiful to see while the light remained. I also happened to be seated in the very back row of the entire train, so I was able to look out the back again, which is always fun.

Once we arrived in Pittsburgh, at about 11:30 pm, it was an easy task to disembark and reassemble the rig on the platform. The local temperature was perfect, with no wind, rain, nor excessive humidity.

I was struck by the beauty of the exterior of the station at night. On my one previous trip to Pittsburgh—which lasted only 24 hours, from 5 am to 5 am(!)—I had exited and entered the station downstairs, and found it aesthetically lacking, looking quite Greyhound depot-ish. I had never realized how grand the upstairs entrance was, and seeing it lit up in the darkness tonight was really a treat.

The short bike ride to my hotel passed without incident.

It’s very late now, but I’m excited for my next few days here. I already have both lunch and dinner plans with different local friends tomorrow, and I’m also looking forward to touring the Phipps Conservatory (and its Japanese garden!) and meeting my new Warmshowers hosts.

But now, some sleep!

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