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!)
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.
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.
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.