The Never Ending Journey, Part 2: More Photos from 2016

2016 has been bookended by two major moves for me – early in the year I was settling in to a new place in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area, and at the end of the year I find myself settling in to a new place in the Buffalo, New York area. Busy seems to be an understatement when you find yourself traveling through at least 18 different states, and spending the equivalent of nearly three months in different hotel rooms. Of course, throughout it all I kept my camera by my side. This post roughly continues where Part 1 left off – but I’ve aptly attempted to bookend it with Harrisburg, and the Buffalo – a true reflection of 2016.

Snow falls on the Keystone Corridor in Middletown
Snow falls on the Keystone Corridor in Middletown

Another cloudy day as the Conrail heritage unit passes over the Rockville Bridge
Another cloudy day as the Conrail heritage unit passes over the Rockville Bridge

I lived in Camp Hill for nearly a year, and I finally made it a point to take a photo of the old station...
I lived in Camp Hill for nearly a year, and I finally made it a point to take a photo of the old station…

Continuing off from the previous Never Ending Journey post, my road trip back from Atlanta led us to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where I heard that the Secret City Scenic would be ending operations. Sadly, their operating agreement was not renewed, and they would no longer be permitted to run trains. Since we were not far, we dropped in to see the final excursions, and snap a few photos.

Last run of the Secret City Scenic in Oak Ridge, TN

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Looking back, and looking forward – a photographic to-do list

While cleaning the other day I found some old photos of my first long distance railroad trip and I wanted to share. The photos have to be at least thirteen years old, I remember leaving from Penn Station and going down to Jacksonville, Florida, and then later leaving from DeLand station back to Penn. I don’t think I really cared all that much about trains back then, but I sure was mesmerized with that Solari departure board that used to be in Penn Station.


Most typical of me, there is a photo of a cat in there. I don’t recall much about the cat, but based on the fur coloring visible in the photo, the cat is a she (or a rare genetic aberration). I remember that cat hung out at the station, and of course I hung out with her while waiting for my train. Amusingly, the DeLand station’s wikipedia entry mentions the cat, and how she often will greet passengers disembarking from the train on the platform. Whether the cat is the same or not, or possibly a descendant of the cat in my photo, I have no idea. My grandmother is going to be heading down by train to DeLand sometime in March, so I told her to keep her eyes open for the cat. I could always call the station and ask about her, but then they would find out what you guys already know – that I’m just a tad crazy.

Those old photos were of course taken with a real film camera. Honestly, I never really liked film all that much. I’ve done the whole film thing, from shooting to self developing, which I especially loathed (imagine me, with my poor coordination, standing in the blackness of the darkroom attempting to roll my film onto the spool for processing and failing miserably). I never had much money growing up, and film and developing was always costly. Digital gives me the ability to shoot a million different frames of the same thing from various angles, and then decide which I like best – without worrying in my mind about wasting film exposures and money in development.

All this thought about my old photography is making me think about what my goals are for this year. What places I’d like to go see and photograph, and then post on this blog. The whole lack of a car thing makes some of this difficult, and it is likely I won’t be able to visit all of these places this year. But these are just some ideas…

Railroad Museum of Long Island – Riverhead, New York
Vanderbilt Mansions in Rhode Island – The Breakers and Marble House
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site – Hyde Park, New York
Vanderbilt Museum – Centerport, New York
Sharon Station – Old Harlem station in Amenia
Craryville Station – The other remaining Harlem station that I’ve not been to

At the end of April I will be heading to Africa for a little bit of adventure. I’ll be going on safari in South Africa and Botswana, as well as visiting Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Victoria Falls. I’ll get the chance to photograph the Cape Town Railway Station, as well as Africa’s largest railway station: Johannesburg Park Station. I’m also hoping to take a Metro Train to Simonstown as well as a journey through the Karoo desert to Johannesburg on the Premier Classe Train.

Unrelated to trains, but keeping up with my desire to visit really strange locales, my friend has a strong desire to go and see Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. The mayor of Rabbit Hash is a dog. Along the way, however, we would stop at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, which looks like quite the gorgeous building.

Most notably, I will continue with my station tours whenever spring finally comes and this snow has melted. It was up in the air between either the Hudson or the New Haven lines, but I finally decided upon doing a Tour of the New Haven Line. Just as I did with the tour of the Harlem Line, I will post a new station each Tuesday.

For now that is about all I can think of. I’m very open to suggestions for interesting places to visit, so if you have an idea, be sure to comment and let me know!

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Dear Amtrak: I hate you. The contest entry you’ll never see.

If you follow me on twitter, earlier this week I was rather bitter about being disqualified from Amtrak’s contest for no apparent reason. I’ve debated posting about this for a few days, but considering I am still a bit bitter, I will. And from this point forward, I will forget about it. For the record, if they were to give me a reason why every entry I submitted was rejected, maybe I’d be ok. It is the refusal to do so, or even to acknowledge me, that irks me. They should have just said, “our legal team said your idea was not feasible,” or, “your idea is too similar to another entrants,” (it isn’t), maybe, “your submitted image was too good, entrants using photoshop and voodoo are not permitted”, or even, “my neighbor’s daughter has entered this contest, and your idea is better than hers, so I don’t want you in the running.”

What was the contest, you ask? Incredibly lame. They couldn’t come up with what the contest should be, so therefore they decided that the contest would be for you to come up with what the contest should be. Did I want to win the contest? Of course, I wouldn’t have entered if I hadn’t. The top prize was a $3500 credit for Amtrak. And I knew exactly the first thing I would spend it on: my grandmother. She hasn’t been in the best health this year, culminating in open-heart surgery about a month or so ago. For the past few years she has wanted to go visit her 95 year-old sister-in-law (the jokes about in-laws do not apply here, they are practically best friends) in Florida. The catch is, she refuses to fly, and she doesn’t have the money to take the train. Of course, a one way Amtrak ticket is more expensive than a round-trip flight. I can remember my first Amtrak trip was with her, going down to Florida. I know that she really wants to go, but she doesn’t talk about it much because she simply doesn’t have the money to do it. But when she was in the hospital, I told her I would pay her way down to Florida when she was better, whatever method she wanted: a flight, Greyhound, or Amtrak. Had I won the contest, I would have at least been able to pay for a nice sleeper car for her, which considering the coach prices are already quite high, sleeper expenses are probably through the roof.

Nonetheless, I will be forgetting about this contest, now that I will be posting what my entry was… The entry you will not see on Amtrak’s site. If you do happen to read it, I invite you to tell me what part is plagiarized, lewd, or inappropriate, which violate the rules of the contest.

Photoshop and Voo-doo: Against the rules.

Title: Rail Pass Blogging Adventure

Description: Across the country, more and more people are creating blogs online and posting their photography and videos. My idea would be to use the power of the blogosphere to create the ultimate Amtrak rail adventure, and give viewers ideas of all the things across our nation that you can see by rail. Each entrant would create their own web site, blog, or social networking account to post their dream itinerary for a 30 day rail adventure. Possible subjects to include why they enjoy rail travel, previous trips on Amtrak, and their train photography. The bulk of the entry would be detailing their trip itinerary if they were to win a 30 day rail pass: what trains they would take, what cities they’d visit, and what activities they are interested in. At the end of the contest, the winner will get a rail pass to take the trip they suggested: and if they choose, update the blog they created detailing their journey.

Prize: A 30 day Amtrak rail pass, so the winner can actually take the trip that they proposed, and a digital camera to document the journey.

Why we should pick you: My idea is a great marketing opportunity: people can get ideas for their own trips, and follow along with the winner if they choose to continue posting to their blog while on their adventure. Instead of looking for a person skilled in a particular area (photo contest), truly anyone could enter and get the chance to live their dream. I personally write a blog about trains, and think it would be incredibly fun to do exactly what I suggested – my dream is to travel the country and world by rail.

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