Taking Amtrak 300 Years Back in Time

With the NARP* board meetings over, and a day-and-a-half to kill before a Red Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore, I hopped Amtrak regional train #67 in Alexandria and headed south to Williamsburg, Virginia. The train was just a few minutes late arriving in Alexandria, but no matter. It was a lovely morning, the air still crisp, when I boarded just before 8:00 and settled into a comfortable, leather seat in Business Class, the last unoccupied pair of seats with a full window view.

Ten minutes after leaving, the 60ish lady sitting behind me began humming — no recognizable tunes, just up a few notes, then down a few, then back up again. She’d stop for a while, then start up again, and after three or four of her “sets,” I decided it was time for a pastry and some hot coffee in the cafe car. Twenty minutes later, as I returned to my seat, she looked up at me, smiled sweetly, and said, “I so enjoy riding the train. Isn’t the countryside lovely?” She got off in Richmond an hour later.

We had had two long delays before Richmond because of CSX crews doing track work and by the time we arrived in Williamsburg, train 67 was 55 minutes behind schedule. But no matter, for the part of town that draws visitors from all over the world is a step back in time — back to the mid-1700s — when an hour’s delay was of no consequence. Colonial Williamsburg includes hundreds of buildings carefully and lovingly restored, lots of people in period costumes wandering around and working in authentic shops: shoemakers, carpenters, and other artisans demonstrating their 18th century skills. (During my first visit many years ago, I watched a cooper making a barrel by hand. Fascinating!)

On this trip, however, I had just a half-day plus an evening, and I spent the daylight hours strolling around the town, poking my head into a shop here and there, admiring the lovely gardens, and stopping frequently to sit under a shade tree on one of the many wooden benches. It was an absolutely lovely and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

I had an excellent dinner at the King’s Arms Tavern, then returned to the room I had reserved in one of the original old buildings three blocks away. Comfortably tired from all that walking, I crawled into bed early. As I lay reading, a company of red-coated militia marched past under my window to the rhythmic beat of a snare drum , heading for the green in the center of the old village. I drifted off a half hour later … a very happy camper.
* National Association of Railroad Passengers