When they surveyed the original course for the Erie Canal almost 200 years ago, you know they picked the easiest route. So, it’s no surprise as time went on that other roads, including railroads, took advantage and built nearby.
For example, I have no idea how many times our path has used State Highway 5, or crossed it. We’ve also walked under and over Interstate 90 a number of times. In addition, we’ve seen many trains fly by on nearby tracks. At times, our trail has been hidden behind trees, but we could hear an approaching train as if it was coming down our path.
We’ve also seen numerous Amtrak trains and have waved to unseen passengers inside. In Texas, there are basically two Amtrak routes. The Sunset Limited travels east-and-west between New Orleans and Los Angeles. The Texas Eagle runs north-and-south between Chicago and San Antonio. Sightings of the passenger train are limited.
All of that is to explain how the idea for Sunday’s leg of our trip was planted in our brain.
Sunday was a 17-mile trek from Amsterdam to Schenectady, one we were dreading just a little because the 14-mile days we’ve had recently had really sapped us. And then the weather forecast came.
Midweek last week, they were already predicting a heavy rain on Sunday. We’ve learned to not put too much early emphasis on the forecasts, but this one held firm. So, I got the bright idea of checking the Amtrak routes. Sure enough, there were trains that stopped in Amsterdam en route to Schenectady.
Not as many trains ran on Sunday and, apparently, a rail construction project led them to temporarily suspend one run, so our earliest train was scheduled for 5:10 p.m. That gave us leeway on when to make a three-mile walk from our Super 8 to the depot and we were able to do that mid-morning between waves of storms; we only got rained on the last half-mile or so.
Of course, that left us more than five hours to wait in a small, unmanned depot. But, hey, there were chairs, a water fountain and a rest room. There were even electrical outlets so we could keep our phones charged.
The wisdom of our plan was confirmed while we waited. After a steady rain of two or three hours, it turned into a downpour, which we watched from inside. The train was delayed but only by an hour. We clambered aboard along with three other people.
Twenty minutes later … 20 minutes! … the train pulled into the station in Schenectady and we walked through a light rain three blocks to our hotel. We declared it a winning decision and it only cost $15 each.
Let me add one thing.
We gave the decision considerable consideration. After all, this is called “Walk the Erie Canal.”
However, we’ve stated all along that (1) we would not do anything stupid; (2) this is not a competition; and (3) we have nothing to prove.
It’s all about the experience and taking the train gave us a different opportunity. In fact, due to a prolonged visit in the depot with a rabid railroad fan, we thought we might want to plan a rail trip someday.