W.W.&F. Discussion Forum

General Topics => General Discussion => Topic started by: Wayne Laepple on August 05, 2015, 12:59:19 AM

Title: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: Wayne Laepple on August 05, 2015, 12:59:19 AM
I live in Lancaster, Pa., and trips to the WW&F by car can be an ordeal. It's about 530 miles door-to-door, and the trip generally takes between 9 and 10 hours, much of it pretty intense Interstate highway driving. Of course, if I travel with a friend, it's better since we can switch drivers every couple of hours, but since I occasionally want to make a solo trip, I started thinking about making the trip by Amtrak. (Note: I don't fly any more, so that cheap airfare counted for nothing.)

There are multiple daily Amtrak trains from Lancaster to Philadelphia and New York City, and once over to the Northeast Corridor, Boston is a relatively fast and easy journey. On my first leg, I left at 9:47 p.m. for Philadelphia, where I boarded Amtrak No. 66, the overnight train to Boston at 12:13 a.m.

I traveled coach, but even so I was able to sleep a fair amount before my 7:52 a.m. arrival at Back Bay station. I took the MBTA Orange Line to North Station, about a 10- minute standing ride during the morning rush hour. Even with a suitcase and backpack, it wasn't all that bad. There was enough time to visit the station's Dunkin Donuts before my 9:05 a.m. departure for Portland. From North Station, the Amtrak Downeaster train to Portland takes about two hours and 30 minutes.

Before leaving home, I made arrangements with Enterprise Car Rental to be picked up at Portland's station by a rental car. By 1:15 p.m., I was on my way to Sheepscot, arriving there in just over an hour. I had the use of the rental car during my stay, allowing me to visit friends and find seafood and other sustenance.

When it was time for me to go home, I drove the rental car back to Portland and dropped it off. I was picked up by a taxi and taken to the station for my 8 a.m. departure south. I made the connection via the Orange Line to Back Bay and my 11:11 a.m. train back to Philadelphia. There were quite a few stops between Boston and New York City, but only Newark, NJ after leaving NYC. It was quite a thrill to be flying across New Jersey at 125 mph! Although I didn't time the miles or the train, we made the 81 miles from Newark, NJ to Philadelphia in 61 minutes. The connection to the Keystone train, the final leg of the journey, was easy, and I was home before 7 p.m.

Bottom line -- the whole trip cost me less than $500 for the train and car rental, and for anyone wanting a trip to Sheepscot coming from just about anywhere on the Atlantic Seaboard, or even from the west, Amtrak may just work for you. Go to their web site, www.amtrak.com and check the schedule. Believe me, it was worth the cost to arrive relaxed and rested.

Title: Re: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: Ira Schreiber on August 05, 2015, 02:40:33 AM
On my early June visit this year, I, too, took Amtrak Philadelphia to Boston Back Bay, stopped at Dunkin Donuts, then the Orange line to North Station.
My 5:25 p.m. Downeaster left on time but did not arrive in Portland until almost five hours later. Thank you Pan Am.
It still was a great trip even at 10 mph in Maine.
Title: Re: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: Philip Marshall on August 05, 2015, 04:35:48 AM
Thanks for the suggestion, Wayne. I like to travel by Amtrak whenever I can, so maybe I should try this from New York sometime.  I especially appreciate being able to reserve a rental car through Amtrak so it's waiting there when you step off the train.

When I visited the Cumbres & Toltec last summer I went most of the way by Amtrak, with the last leg on the Southwest Chief to Raton, NM, the dusty former AT&SF helper station on the west side of Raton Pass. There's not much in Raton, but believe it or not there was a Hertz car rental place just a block from the station there, and my car was waiting for me when I arrived (albeit two hours late). From Raton it was a relatively short three-hour drive to Chama, going through some amazing landscapes. The whole thing couldn't have been any easier of more convenient.
Title: Re: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: James Patten on August 05, 2015, 12:20:55 PM
Living in Maine, the trick is getting to Boston in time to get elsewhere on the Amtrak system.  If I want to get anywhere outside the Northeast Corridor, it usually means getting up really early to get to Portland to get the bus to South Station (because the Downeaster either leaves too early or doesn't get in in enough time).  It sometimes involves staying overnight outside of Maine to catch the right train.

Coming home again usually means a late afternoon or early evening arrival in Boston - and then it's a minimum of 3.5 hours home with bus and driving.  Usually when I'm on my way home I just want to get home

Coming from the west (Chicago) usually means the Lake Shore Limited.  Timekeeping is sketchy, at best, with this train, so even though it's schedule to arrive around 8 PM, its usually later.  Several years ago my wife and I came back on the Capitol Limited to DC, then the Acela back - however, the Limited's schedule makes that no longer feasible (it used to come in before 1 PM and we caught the 1 PM Acela which got us home about 11:15 PM that night - now it's scheduled for a 1:15 PM arrival).

Wayne took the overnight train 66/67, which doesn't have sleepers.  I have a hard enough time sleeping in a strange bed, nevermind upright in a chair, so that option would never work for me (although it would be a nice option), especially if my wife is with me.
Title: Re: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: Wayne Laepple on August 06, 2015, 01:15:08 AM
I must have been lucky on my Amtrak trip. All trains ran on time. In fact, arrival in Boston Back Bay was actually a bit early. The only delay encountered was on the Downeaster when a Pan Am freight ahead of us had some mechanical difficulty that held us up for about half an hour. And the trackwork around Portland required a bus transfer at Wells, but even so, we arrived in Portland on time.
Title: Re: Another way to Sheepscot
Post by: Philip Marshall on August 06, 2015, 05:02:27 AM
Amtrak is usually quite reliable on the Northeast Corridor. The problem is everywhere else. :)