Chapter 4: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Sunday's activities had two major elements: A round trip on the DC Streetcar, and an Amtrak round trip to Charlottesville, VA on the Cardinal.
Chapter 4.0: Meeting in Washington
Many of us met in the Club Acela, while others hooked up with us just outside in the station just outside the facility. Three who walked from a nearby hotel, would instead meet the group at the streetcar stop on the H Street (Hopscotch) Bridge. Nine of us coming from the station walked through its bus terminal/parking garage and out to the streetcar platform.
All told, 12 of us would be making this eastbound trip. Returning from Saturday were Steve W., Kate, Preston, Ross, Penny, Mike, Grace, Alan, John, and me. Joining us for the first time were Don Weinstein and his wife Fayone, who would be taking the streetcar trip only.
Chapter 4.1: DC Streetcar, Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue
The group of 12 left the Union Station platform on the bridge at 8:41 AM. The system was obviously not following an expected schedule of leaving the start point every quarter hour, so this car was either 4 minutes early or 11 minutes late.
After a smooth and uneventful trip, we got to the other end of the line at Benning Road & Oklahoma Avenue at 9:06 AM. There to greet us were Chris Wyatt and Steve M., who had slept later than expected and who decided to take a car to meet us at that end to at least be able to ride one way with us.
With a slight breeze it was a little uncomfortable on the platform there, as we had to wait outside while the same streetcar pulled beyond the station to a tail track and then returned on the westbound track.
Chapter 4.2: DC Streetcar, Oklahoma Avenue to Union Station
After the streetcar returned and the doors opened for boarding, our group (now 14) did so. The car left Oklahoma Avenue at 9:13 AM for its 25 minute run to Union Station. We got there at 9:38 AM.
Leaving us after the streetcar run were Grace, Alan, Fayone, Don, Kate, and Preston. The remaining 8 were later joined in the station by Jack and John.
Chapter 4.3: Amtrak Train #51, Cardinal: Washington, DC to Charlottesville, VA
When the Cardinal was called in the Club Acela, 10 of us were led down to the platform and soon boarded the train. Already on the train and returning from the previous day was Maurice. For this trip, Steve W., Mike, Penny, Jishnu, Ross, and I were in Business Class, while John, Maurice, Steve M., Chris, and Jack were Coach Class. Our total travelling party for the rest of the day would be 11, although on neither Cardinal segment would we all be together.
The westbound Cardinal departed from Washington one minute late, at 11:01 AM, and we remained just a little off schedule for the entire trip. During the journey many of us went to the cafe car to partake of lunch, and for those in Business Class, claim our complimentary soft drinks.
The train arrived in Charlottesville at 1:45 PM, just two minutes tardy. We still, therefore, had a little over 90 minutes dwell time before our return trip, which we knew was also running close to schedule.
Chapter 4.4: In Charlottesville
Several from the group passed the time at the nearby World of Beer, while others walked around town or remained near the station. All were back inside the small waiting room well before the announcements were made in advance of our next train's arrival.
Chapter 4.5: Amtrak Train #50, Cardinal: Charlottesville, VA to Washington, DC
The same eleven people boarded the eastbound Cardinal for our return trip to Washington. On this journey, since Business Class was not available, four people (Steve M., Chris, Penny, and Jishnu) shared accommodations in daytime mode while the other seven went in coach. There was a little confusion for those in coach in boarding the train as there often is when crew assigns seats. In the end, the seven of us did get to sit together in one general section of the same coach.
Those who were in the sleeping car reported that the adjacent Business Class car was totally empty. Whereas we all (from the time the Fest was announced until just before we left on the trip) had experienced a "Sold Out" condition when trying to reserve a preferred seat in Business, in fact every seat was physically available but could not be reserved. The crew, when asked about it, was just as baffled.
We departed Charlottesville right on time at 3:19 PM. We lost some time up to Culpeper, and with a double spot there, we left 7 minutes late at 4:42 PM. Around Manassas, the four from our group in the sleeping car were called for a quick dinner. Our train left Manassas at 5:16 PM, 6 minutes down. However, the way trains are scheduled into Alexandria and Washington, we knew we more than likely would not be late into the latter.
Alexandria came at 5:47 PM, which was 12 minutes early. As this is (as well as all stations up to New York on this train) a discharge-only stop, we departed quickly and headed into the nation's capital. We came to a stop in Washington Union Station at 6:06 PM, officially 13 minutes early.
Chapter 4.6: End of Sunday's activities
Steve M., Chris, and Maurice would remain aboard this train to points north, while the other eight detrained to either head for home in the Washington area or to hotels for one more night. A few of us who got off in Washington (and hadn't eaten earlier) partook of Union Station's lower level food court for a late dinner. From there we said our final goodbyes and split up. A few would see one another once more on Monday on their respective trips home.