Chapter 4: Saturday, January 16, 2016
Our busy Saturday featured trips on the Long Island Railroad, several subway trips, and Amtrak, sandwiched around a lunch stop in Coney Island and a dinner stop in Poughkeepsie. All 23 people who attended this Fest were involved at some time on Saturday, although never all at the same time. Our peak was 20 people.
Chapter 4.0: Meeting in New York
A much larger group met at New York's Penn Station on Saturday morning. Some first met in the Club Acela, while others went to the Long Island Railroad waiting area as the arrangement was. Returning from the previous evening were Don, Dave, Penny, Misty, Preston, Lou, Sloan, and me. Joining us here were Chris Wyatt, Steve Weagant, Tyler Sabo, Dick McCauley, Stephen Montero, Mike Hammond, and John Corbett. The 15 of us went down to Track 21 as soon as it was announced as the departure track for our train.
Chapter 4.1: MTA Long Island Railroad Port Washington Branch, Train #6416, New York, NY Penn Station to Port Washington, NY
Our first Saturday conveyance departed from Penn Station at 8:50 AM, 2 minutes late. We proceeded east through the East River tunnel, surfacing in Queens. Joining us at Woodside was Alan Burden, bringing our total for the LIRR journey to 16. Our trip continued through Queens and into Nassau County, coming into the Port Washington station at 9:36 AM, just one minute late.
Often when putting together these Fest itineraries, I allow for lateness at the endpoints, as well as some leg stretching time where the schedule allows. Port Washington Branch trains run every half hour, so with the choice between 9:39 and 10:09 AM, I had put the latter on the itinerary to avoid a too tight dwell had we been much later than we were. As things turned out, the 9:39 train was still loading across the platform from where we had arrived, so we went for it rather than standing outside. It would put us 1/2 hour earlier for a while, giving us more time for lunch. Those planning to meet us later in the day were alerted to our running early.
Chapter 4.2: MTA Long Island Railroad Port Washington Branch, Train #6423 Port Washington, NY to Flushing, NY
This train left Port Washington on time at 9:39, so we were in town all of three minutes. Along our westbound trip, Sloan left us at Great Neck for a previously planned lunch engagement. Fifteen of us remained on the westbound train to our stop at Flushing, where we arrived at 10:08 AM, 3 minutes late. Tyler and Dick remained aboard this train to Penn Station in order to do other activities (they would rejoin us later), while the other 13 detrained.
The stairway from the station platform down to the street was a little bit slippery due to recent weather, so it slowed us down a bit more. We walked through the crowded streets of Flushing to get from the LIRR station to the subway. Joining us here was Kevin Noell, so we now had 14 travelling together.
Chapter 4.3: MTA New York City Transit 7 train, Flushing-Main Street to 34th Street-Hudson Yards
We boarded the next waiting 7 train, and soon departed at 10:23 AM, which was 22 minutes ahead of our itinerary. Although we had been on a train half an hour earlier, that train's lateness plus our needing to be careful descending from the LIRR station took a few minutes back.
A weekend service change that called for westbound 7 trains running express past several Queens stations was supposed to have worked in our favor, gaining us a few minutes. However, what was supposed to be a 37 minute ride ultimately turned out to be 40 minutes. After negotiating what was new trackage to many beyond Times Square to 34th Street-Hudson Yards, we arrived at the latter at 11:02 AM (now only 20 minutes ahead of the original itinerary). Once there, we went across the very wide platform to a waiting outbound train, and prepared for the next departure in the other direction.
Chapter 4.4: MTA New York City Transit 7 train, 34th Street-Hudson Yards to 42nd Street-Times Square
A short two minute run back through the city's newest in revenue subway segment brought us from 34th Street-Hudson Yards to 42nd Street-Times Square, where we arrived at 11:11 AM. We transferred there to the N train, on whose platform we met Bill Magee and his wife Marie. They brought our travelling party back to 16.
Chapter 4.5: MTA New York City Transit N train, 42nd Street-Times Square to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue
N trains sometimes run express and sometimes local through Manhattan. Our train left from 42nd Street-Times Square at 11:19 AM on the local track, and thus made local stops until it switched to the express tracks to cross the Manhattan Bridge. Just before we got to that switch, we were passed by a Q train, and through the window spotted Piotr on the other train! He got off that train at Canal Street and boarded our train for the ride out to Coney Island. Our group had grown to 17 people now.
As mentioned above, after we left the 36th Street station in Brooklyn, we switched to the D route, following the West End Line to Coney Island. We arrived there at 12:15 PM, which was 23 minutes sooner than called for on our itinerary. We walked over to Nathan's.
Chapter 4.6: Lunch at Coney Island
Joining us in Coney Island was Bill & Marie's son, also named Bill, bringing our total to 18. We found Nathan's to be a little crowded. Most of us opted to remain there for lunch; however with not enough table space we ended up eating outside. Luckily for us it was not bitterly cold, just a bit breezy being so close to the Atlantic Ocean.
After eating, some of us walked up to the boardwalk and into a pavilion over the beach. Preston even went across the beach to the surf line. We spent some time there and then walked back to the subway station to meet the others and prepare for our inbound trip back to Manhattan.
Chapter 4.7: MTA New York City Transit Q train, Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue to 34th Street-Herald Square
Back at the station, we found we had all 17 people accounted for. We therefore were able to leave on an earlier Q train than planned. We departed at 1:35 PM. Just like our earlier trip on the 7, we ran express for a while bypassing several stations, on a track normally used by the weekday-only B train.
Before we knew it, we were going over the Manhattan Bridge for the second time today, and then into the subway tunnel again for a quick express ride up to 34th Street-Herald Square. Along the way, Piotr detrained at 14th Street-Union Square, so it was 17 of us who arrived at Herald Square and then walked the long block west on 32nd Street to Penn Station.
Once at Penn Station, our group was adjusted once more. Kevin Noell was done for the day, and he made his way to his hotel. Joining us there for the evening activities were Will Malpartida and Alan's mother Grace. And returning from earlier in the day were Tyler and Dick. For the rest of the day we would have 20 people together. We rested for a bit in the Club Acela, and then chipped in to have a Redcap escort us to the train in order to get seats ahead of the crowd waiting on line.
Chapter 4.8: Amtrak Train #291, Ethan Allen Express: New York, NY Penn Station to Poughkeepsie, NY
Because we were pre-boarded, we did not pass any of the crew en route, thus we did not know whether we were in the correct coach for the Poughkeepsie stop, as limited doors are opened at intermediate stops. We ended up spread among two cars, and found out when our tickets were scanned that our exit would be to the rear of one of those cars. We left New York 2 minutes late at 3:17 PM. And with no delays, we got into Poughkeepsie on time at 4:39 PM.
We were lucky in that our northbound train used the Track 2 and the platform on the river side of the station, which one might expect to be the southbound platform. Thus when the 20 of us filed off the train, we did not need to go up into the station and just walked across the parking lot to Mahoney's.
Chapter 4.9: Dinner at Mahoney's Pub and Steakhouse
The restaurant was ready to accept us, and they seated us at two adjacent tables in the rear. They also let us spread out to a third table so that some who wanted to could see a football game on the large screen television. We still had a view through a window of the train station, and did get to witness the New York-bound Lake Shore Limited making its stop there. The process of ordering went smoothly, and our food came out in a reasonable time. Hats off to Mahoney's for excellent service of 20 hungry railfans, but also getting us taken care of well before we had to worry about making our return train back to New York City.
We were out of the restaurant by about 6:45 PM, giving us half an hour before the scheduled departure of the southbound Adirondack. Many of us went upstairs to explore the station and wait in warmer conditions.
Chapter 4.10: Amtrak Train #68, Adirdondack: Poughkeepsie, NY to New York, NY Penn Station
Our train was shown on the station monitors to be expected on Track 2, the same track that we had arrived on. Soon all of us were down on this track waiting for the train. We knew by this point that #68 was running a bit late. Soon came an announcement that we would now be boarding on Track 3, which is on another platform closer to the station. That meant everyone going up either the stairs or elevators, and then down another set of stairs or another elevator.
The Adirondack ended up departing from Poughkeepsie at 7:36 PM, 21 minutes late. With no further connections to make and the known padding into New York City, we were not overly concerned. Although we all did not get to sit together, we all found empty seats within the coach we were directed into. After our intermediate stops at Croton-Harmon and Yonkers, we made our approach into New York's Penn Station, finally arriving there at 8:55 PM. We were just 5 minutes down upon arrival.
Chapter 4.11: End of Saturday's activities
What was by far the Fest's busiest day in terms of activities and participants had come to an end. From Penn Station we broke up for the day and our participants made their ways home or to hotels.