Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: An Easter Journey

Every year, we typically head up to Long Island to visit Mrs. Cutter’s family for Easter. (For the completists among you, feel free to review last year’s trip.)

When we looked to purchase airfare for our annual pilgrimage, we found the fares to be atypically expensive. We concluded that flying up there would simply cost too much money to be worth it.

Normally, I would have been fine avoiding spending time with my in-laws, but I knew that Mrs. Cutter would be saddened if we couldn’t go. So I came up with an alternative: We could take a train.

For the price of one plane ticket, all three of us could ride an Amtrak train to Penn Station in Manhattan, and then take the Long Island Rail Road out to Mrs. Cutter’s mother’s house.

It would be a long trip, but hey, Easter only comes once a year, right?

The entire trip was almost called off on Saturday morning due to an incident at the Cutlet’s swim class. The details of the incident will be covered in a future post, so I’ll just say that at that moment, the thought of being stuck on a train with her for several hours did not seem all that appealing.

In the end, we were able to move past the incident and get on our way. When I first conceived the idea of taking a train, I underestimated just how complex the trip would be.

We first had to drive to BWI airport. This would not have caused us much trouble if not for the truck in front of us. A large rock fell out of its payload, bounced along the road and smashed into our windshield. The result was a sizable dent that will require the complete replacement of the windshield.

I can assure you that neither Mrs. Cutter nor I was in a very good mood at this point.

We had some extra time (so we thought), so we stopped to pick up some fast food for lunch. There was a McDonald’s and Burger King side-by-side, and due to it being slightly closer, we chose McDonald’s. This turned out to be a poor choice, as they were still serving breakfast. (Since when does McDonald’s serve breakfast until 11? I thought they were done by like 10!)

I was not in the mood for a McGriddle. Then again, I've never been in the mood for a McGriddle. (Image source)

I was not in the mood for a McGriddle. Then again, I’ve never been in the mood for a McGriddle. (Image source)

It was 10:57 at the time, but rather than wait for them to switch over, we headed to the Burger King which had already made the change. The menu change must have used up all of the staff’s energy, as they didn’t seem to be in any great hurry to complete our order.

That extra time we once had? After parking at the airport lot, taking a shuttle to the terminal, and then taking another shuttle to the train station, it was gone. Not to worry though; Amtrak’s legendary efficiency left us waiting at the station fifteen minutes after the scheduled departure time.

Once on board, we made ourselves comfortable. The Cutlet watched a movie while I attempted to use the onboard WiFi. (It would be generous to describe the signal strength as spotty.) It felt like the worst part of our trip was behind us, but we hit a bit of a snag when the train stopped in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia can be a lovely place to visit. However, most of the tourist attractions can only be seen if you aren’t sitting aboard a darkened train for half an hour. I wasn’t aware that this was a thing, but apparently, they sometimes switch a train’s engine in the middle of a trip. If anyone who has knowledge of trains can explain this to me, I’d love to hear more.

We saw none of these things. (Image source

We saw none of these things. (Image source

Eventually we were on our way, and arrived at Penn Station 45 minutes late. This might have caused a problem with our connecting train, but luckily we were late enough that the next train would leave within half an hour. So at least Amtrak had good timing with their inefficiency.

After navigating the busy station and taking a bathroom break, we crowded aboard the LIRR. Thankfully, a couple of passengers on the train changed seats so we could all sit together. To our surprise, the Cutlet actually laid down and took a nap! It may have left us a bit uncomfortable, but the peaceful trip was worth it.

Once we arrived at our station, it was a half hour drive to my mother-in-law’s house. We realized that it would have been quicker to have just driven our car up from Maryland. On the other hand, I was able to use my computer and take a quick nap instead of fighting the inevitable traffic.

The chocolate bunny is just the tip of the iceberg these days. (Image source)

The chocolate bunny is just the tip of the iceberg these days. (Image source)

Side rant: Last year, I remarked on how Easter has become Springtime Christmas, and it felt like the trend has gotten worse. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for gifts, but I thought you gave kids some jelly beans and a chocolate bunny and called it a day. I didn’t realize the trend was to now give elaborate baskets full of gifts and toys.

Did we really need another Christmas? Who’s responsible for this? Is it Hallmark? I bet it’s Hallmark!

After spending the day with family on Sunday, it was time to head back home. Plane tickets for Monday afternoon weren’t too pricey, so we decided to fly home rather than taking another train. We thought this would make everything better. We were wrong.

Getting to the airport was fine. Boarding the airplane was fine. The flight was fine. Even the landing was fine.

So what went wrong? Just as we were preparing to get off the plane, the Cutlet became irate because she didn’t have her stuffed husky doll. When we tried to remedy that situation by handing it to her, she told us that she wanted him “when we took off.”

I didn’t bring my time machine along on the trip, so I wasn’t able to remedy this problem. Instead of listening to reason, the Cutlet threw herself down in the middle of the aisle and refused to move, which did not endear us to any of the passengers behind us waiting to get off. I can now scratch “Carry a screaming, flailing infant down the aisle of a plane” off of my to-do list.

It was a bad end to a long weekend. We did a lot of travelling in just a three-day span. If we were ever to take the train to Long Island again, I think we’d have to stay longer for it to be worth it.

I suppose we could also just not visit Mrs. Cutter’s family again, but somehow I don’t see that as an option.

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24 Responses to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: An Easter Journey

  1. Green Embers says:

    You know, I feel kind of bad at laughing at this. Hope this week has been much more relaxing.

  2. djmatticus says:

    Ouch.
    I’m not sure why it was on your to-do list in the first place, but since it was, at least you’ve already gone ahead and taken care of that. Just make sure it doesn’t sneak back on the list…

  3. TT&NB says:

    My husband and I have exclusively driven our kids everywhere out of fear of tantrums in the exit aisle. You are very brave.

  4. You know, I do remember that rant!

    Hooray for once in a lifetime experiences?

  5. Trent Lewin says:

    I thought trains were supposed to be relaxing! I’ll have to check about the changing engine thing, that seems weird. And I am with you about Easter-come-Christmas. I say let Santa fight it out for the Easter bunny for supremacy and for the one-and-only gift-giving season. And you know who would win. That’s right. Satan.

  6. What day were you at the McDonalds? Their breakfast hours always run longer on weekends. I saw an article not too long ago about the McCorporation wanting to eliminate the strict breakfast/lunch time periods because of customer complaints, but the franchisees are the ones fighting it because running both at once is apparently too much for them to handle with the sparse staffing they hire (duh). I guess Jack in the Box knows something Mickey Dee’s doesn’t…

    And retail will continue to create more and more gift giving occasions until the people finally say enough is enough. But it seems like everyone’s gotta outdo what their parents did, so the kids get loaded with presents for just about every occasion now….

    I’ll withhold comment on the Cutlet tantrum, but thank you for reminding me why I don’t have kids…

  7. mistyslaws says:

    I keep forgetting you’re in MD. Sounds very similar to many of my trips. The last time I took Amtrak up to NJ, I had the exact same thing happen in Philly! It was crazy and frustrating. Especially, since they didn’t TELL us what was going on and I just happened to hear an employee talking to someone on the train after sitting in the dark for 20 minutes. Crazy.

  8. Haha, oh boy – what a trip! While I can’t say I have a bucket list for when I have kids, I am pretty sure it’s worthy of a badge of honor to carry a screaming/flailing toddler in an airplane. Hell, or anywhere.

  9. I can now see why travelling with Del Griffith may have been more amusing! I don’t have kids so don’t know the horrors of taking them on a trip. I’m glad you survived to tell the tale!

  10. The good news, is now you can make an updated version of the movie! ;) Sorry the trip ended up so eventful for something that should have been relatively simple. And I’ve got a three-year-old, and things were good for most of the time … until we held up the entire plane to try and get out because suddenly she HAD to play with the seat belts. It’s a kid thing, and it’s a story you can mock them about when they’re older. And I never believed it when my mom used to tell me, but there is some kind of cosmic karma that you get the kind of kid you used to be, so think of the pleasure you can give the Cutlet later in life? ;) Hope you get a well-deserved recovery this week.

  11. My mini male me was looking at an expensive pair of shoes the other day. When I said no, the said, “That’s ok. I’ll just ask for them for Easter.” I was unaware that Jesus rose from the dead bearing gifts…..

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