A Carolinian on The Carolinian

[Updated on Saturday, May 4, 2013]

I'm onboard, on time, and online. All aboard The (northbound) Carolinian! It's 8:20 a.m., and I'm headed from HPNC to Raleigh for a day of fun (my personal definition): NC Symphony concert lecture and matinee performance, followed by a late lunch at fav bu*ku, with about an hour left to see some more of the NC History Museum (which I am seeing one exhibit space at a time...:-). There's all the free WiFi I can use on The Carolinian (although not on all lines, I understand), so I'm going to sit back, relax, listen to some tunes or a book; read, blog or knit as the mood strikes; and enjoy my Fun Friday. Loving that I don't have to drive there...or find a place to park...or drive back home. Ahhhhhh...

Yes, I'd love another Diet Pepsi, thank you!
I learned my lesson in this same journey last May: do NOT go coach. It's May. Early May. I live in a college town, on the train route with a bazillion other college towns. What happens in early May, in college towns, that usually includes trains? Yeah, yeah, it's National Train Day, but that isn't until next week. No, I'm talking about end of the semester...when college students find their way back home in the least expensive manner possible. Those without cars...or friends with cars...or funds to fly...ride the rails, usually in coach. So, today...I'm riding Business Class. Costs more, yes (about $8 more, each way), but well worth it this time of the year. And, as the pleasant attendant just brought me a pillow (!) and a Diet Pepsi (not a Coke product mentioned, thank goodness...we are in Carolina, birthplace of Pepsi, after all...:-)...over ice...to my seat...I think I may be addicted. She even offered me a free USA Today, but I told her I brought my own...on my iPad.

Heheheheh. We pulled into Burlington, and a gaggle of little school children are lined up on the platform to board. Looks a field trip to me! Let me take a sip of my DPepsi, and raise my glass in a silent toast: to Business Class! Thank goodness.

Actually, I'm glad to see little kids still get an early introduction to trains. That's how it started with me. I think I've told you about my kindergarten trip from Covington to Atoka, TN. That would be 55 years ago, probably this month, come to think of it. And I've loved trains ever since. That love was probably reinforced by living in a town that was on the Illinois Central line, and hearing about "waiting for the Mail Sack" from my Daddy.

No, not the Pony Express...I'm not THAT old...:-). But, the train brought the mail to Henning, and the delivery method (once there were no longer passenger train-stops in town) was this long metal hook on a longer arm that snatched the bag off the train as it sped past one end of town. I well remember one time when the exchange didn't go quite as planned, the hook caught the bag wrong, the bag ripped, and the mail got "delivered" willy-nilly at the drop spot. What a mess!

The other reinforcement came almost in my DNA. Daddy used to say "the Lunns were all train people," and that was true for a couple of generations after the Civil War. He even lived with his Uncle Herndon Lunn, who was a conductor on the IC based in East St. Louis, for a brief period after my grandfather Sidney Lunn, Sr. (who was a street car...not train...conductor in Nashville) died in the '20's. What Daddy remembered about that time with Uncle Herndon and Aunt Bessie (who was also Daddy's mother, Lillie Pearl's sister...so their son, Percy, was Daddy's double-first cousin...how's that for genealogy-on-the-go?!) was the free train rides...and eating well in the dining car. (Daddy ALWAYS remembered the food on any trip he ever took...for his whole life...:-)


All Aboard #80 in Durham!
Coming into Durham. Time for a break. It's a beaUtiful day, and I want to enjoy the passing scenery for a bit. See you later.

Back again...much later. Something happened with Blogger...wouldn't let me Save my update(s) for some reason. Mr. T is right: technology WILL bite you in the butt every time...:-)

Anyway...I'll switch to past tense now, since its Saturday morning when I'm finishing this post.

I had a fantastic time! It was cool and overcast for most of the day, but that was OK by me...made walking around Raleigh easier than if it had been hot and muggy. I carried my teeny-tiny purse-sized umbrella just in case, but I didn't need it.

The concert? Well. Let me say that the NC Symphony did their usual flawless (to this tin ear, at least) job. However...whoever is doing the programming selections needs his/her head examined. They played, as the final piece, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, subtitled Pathétique, a French word that suggests passionate or emotional suffering. Tchaikovsky himself wanted to call it "Tragic," and it has been suggested that it is "symphony as suicide note," since the composer died (of cholera) nine days after its premiere. Whatever. The fourth and final movement are so dirge-like that one cannot help but feel depressed. Is that any way to end a concert...or a season? Puh-lease. See what you think: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._6_(Tchaikovsky)

Feeling the weight of nineteenth century Russia on my shoulders, I welcomed the walk in the fresh air to my favorite downtown Raleigh restaurant, bu*ku (subtitled: Global Street Food...:-). And that glass of German Riesling went a long way to easing any remaining angst. By the time my Asian Pear Salad with grilled Pacific-coast salmon and an order of German pretzel knots and spicy mustard arrived, I was in a good mood again. As I finished up with the Flight of Crème Brûlées (3 tiny filled egg-cups...one, chocolate; one vanilla; and one, ginger-vanilla...surrounded with piles of fresh fruit), I was positively giddy.

bu*ku...a picture IS worth a thousand words!
Time to walk off all that yummyness! I had an hour and fifty minutes before my train, and the NC History Museum was calling to me. As I entered the Capitol grounds (short-cut!), I realized where every middle-schooler in central NC was: end-of-school field trip to Raleigh! Lord have mercy.

I managed to bob and weave my way through the packs of pre-teens milling in front of the Museum and make my way inside. I had wanted to go through a special exhibit called Art in Clay, but one look at the line for tickets nixed that idea. I took a pass on that until school is out. Here's more info for you, though: http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/art_in_clay/index.html

Instead, I headed into The Story of North Carolina. I got from The Stone Age to the beginning of The Civil War years. Not bad for an afternoon, eh? I'll know where to pick up next time. You can read more about it here: http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/wgo/press_09262011a.html

Midway through the movie on the decision about secession, I realized I'd overstayed my welcome. Yikes! Needed to haul buns to make it back to the station to catch my train...which wasn't going to wait for me, right?

Only...when I got to the station, with several whole minutes to spare, I found that ol' No.79 was running behind...45 minutes more or less. And, that tardiness caused problems on down the line, making us nearly two hours late pulling into High Point. We sat on the sidetrack for more than 30 minutes outside of Burlington, waiting for two freight trains to pass. Passenger yields to freight...law of rail transportation. You can't go by train unless you are wiling to be flexible! Amtrak should use Gumby as their mascot.

No matter. I had my WiFi, my iPad, my knitting, and my tunes. Books, movies, and magazines at my fingertips. The attendant kept bringing me cups of ice and cans of Diet Pepsi. She even started handing out the New York Times...a paper I haven't read (except online) in years. I wasn't paying for that convenient (free) parking space at the HPNC station, so what's a couple hours extra? Mr. T had made it home, the dogs were well-fed, watered, and in good hands. I was still full from my lovely, late lunch, so hunger wasn't an issue (although there is a Snack Car on The Carolinian). I got up periodically and walked back and forth through 3 cars to keep from getting to seat-bound.

Still I was happy to hop off at High Point! Lillie Pearl PTC was waiting in her parking space, right where I'd left her this morning. And hearth and home were just a short drive away. Another Fun Friday came to a close.

Let me leave you with a couple of pictures I took...the first in the morning as I walked past the Convention Center; the second as I hustled my bustle to catch my train home. Notice anything different?

Yep. Sir Walter Raleigh got yarn-bombed yesterday! Heheheh!

Perfect!








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