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And tomorrow, I’ll be treated to a lovely view of Virginia from the inside of an Amfleet coach…

September 20, 2011, 10:57 PM

Indeed, tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m going down to Stuarts Draft to visit the family, and unlike every past trip I’ve ever made between DC and Stuarts Draft, I’m doing it via public transportation. Specifically, I’m taking the Cardinal, Amtrak train 51. Since it’s only a four-hour train trip, I’m going in coach. That will be a new experience, because aside from like ten minutes in coach on the Capitol Limited in 2007, I’ve always traveled in a class higher than coach, being in the sleepers on the Capitol Limited, and then traveling business class on the Acela and the Downeaster (though it should be noted that the Acela does not have a coachclass section – business class is the lowest class of service).

The reason I’m taking the train is because I will be hosting a visitor as soon as I get back to DC. Specifically, Mom! The reason it worked out like this is because of a perfect storm of events. Sis and Chris are going to be in Virginia to attend a wedding in Blacksburg, stopping by to say hello and have lunch with all of us on Thursday. And of course, I just won’t pass up a chance to see my sister and my brother-in-law, since they live so far away and I don’t get to see them often. Then there’s the National Book Festival in DC, which Mom has attended for a number of years. So because of the timing, it seemed silly to drive down to Stuarts Draft in the Sable, and then take two cars back to DC. So the Sable is staying in Maryland (and it’s likely already parked where it’s going to stay for about four days), and Mom’s Scion is making the trip up and back. But we’re going to be leaving at 4 AM – yecch. I’m not going to the Book Festival, though. I’m just going home. So while Mom’s out meeting authors, I’m going home and taking a nap, getting the rest of the sleep I won’t be able to get on Friday night.

Then while riding the Cardinal, I’m going to be seeing much of Virginia. The route appears to parallel US 29 for the most part between Manassas and Charlottesville, and then turns west at Charlottesville, apparently from what I can tell, going through the mountain via a tunnel, and then to Staunton via Waynesboro and Fishersville. I was a little disappointed about not getting to ride over the grade crossing on Route 608 in Stuarts Draft near my parents’ house (and I have seen Amtrak cars go over it before), but I understand why we’re not, since it’s too far south. Then I just get plunked into downtown Staunton at the train station. However, unlike the previous time when I’ve been dropped into the middle of a small town by train, I know where I’m going in Staunton, and have made arrangements for Mom to meet me at a coffee shop nearby once she gets out of school. Which coffee shop I’m going to park myself at, I’m not quite sure yet. Check my Twitter, since I’m sure I’ll post it there.

Then once I meet Mom, we’re going phone shopping. Yes, in less than 24 hours, I’m going to have a good cell phone. For those wondering, the original Motorola Droid did not age very well. It started pooping along, slow as molasses, once it was a year old. Honestly, I’m surprised that I haven’t dismembered it yet on account of its being such a slow pain in the behind. From what I’ve seen on the Internet, this is a common thing to have happen. But after tomorrow once I get a new phone, this phone will likely live out its retirement as a glorified thumb drive (like how the phone before that is now an alarm clock). Going into this, the leading contender is the HTC Thunderbolt, but that could change depending on the results of test calls that I plan to make to a few people. My mother is one person that I’ll be test calling, and I’m also calling a few friends. The thing about my existing phone is that a number of folks have said that they have problems hearing me on it. And not hearing me is a bad thing. The person who has said most about it is Mom, and that’s why she’s coming along to do this – so that she can be sure that the phone I get is the best one that she can hear me on. All I know is, I’ll be glad to have a phone that actually, you know, works like it’s supposed to. Plus 4G. And not another Motorola, at least for a while.

Otherwise, this is me leaving the pool after an hour of swimming on Monday:

Getting ready to leave the pool after an hour's worth of swimming

This is on the eve of learning that I am now 68 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of this journey back in March. Compare that photo to this one from last December and see if you don’t notice a big difference. I really find that those older photos look strange to me, since I’m so much bigger in them compared to how I look now. So I’m doing very well. Hopefully I’ll be hitting the century mark on weight loss before I know it. Won’t that be impressive!

Otherwise, I will see you in Stuarts Draft!

Web site: How To: Choose The Right Smartphone For You

Song: "After You've Gone" from Make Mine Music. For some reason, I've had this stuck in my head today.

Quote: Meanwhile, it's kind of funny about how the train I'm taking is the 51, isn't it? After all, the Ride On bus I take every day is the 51, and so tomorrow morning, I'm going to be taking the 51 bus to the Red Line to Amtrak's train 51. Now if a new smartphone only cost $51, I think I'd have it made.