Crescent – New Orleans to Washington, DC

As the Crescent left New Orleans, we headed due North until we passed the Lakefront Airport.  I thought the geometry of the concrete freeway ramps was interesting:

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We hugged the lake for miles.  There were lots of these pilings sticking out of the water from former docks and piers:

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I took a short nap, and when I woke up, we were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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These gentlemen were loitering at the station.  Lots of people were loitering at the station.  The train only comes once a day, so I wasn’t sure why.

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As we approached Birmingham, the rural landscape gave way to factories and old brick housing complexes.

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We had a short stop in Birmingham, and I took a few pictures of the station.

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Birmingham’s passenger station has a half-dozen tracks on three platforms, and since Amtrak only comes through once a day, the freight companies were using the station to shunt around freight cars.

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Here’s the Birmingham skyline from the station:

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They had this old luggage cart sitting on one of the platforms.  I really like the mural on the building in the background:

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Moving away from Birmingham, the landscape slowly turned into dense forest and lush foliage.

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In many places, the tracks sliced straight through a hill or a mountain, and in others they hugged the edge of steep cliffs and mountainsides, blanketed with trees.

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I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful landscape out of Alabama.  I had completely underestimated it.

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By nightfall, we had pulled into Atlanta.  The train station from Gone with the Wind is long gone, replaced by some utilitarian asphalt and a long shelter for rain.

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I took a picture of the wheels for some reason.  I think it looks cool.

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Once we got back on the train, I started talking with one of the passengers.  Our conversation lasted hours, well into the morning.  She was kind of tense about her trip, and popped Xanax like candy.  She offered me one, and I obliged, never having tried it before.  It put me into the deepest and most comfortable sleep I’ve had on the train yet, so much so that I fell asleep mid-conversation and woke up well past her stop.  We never got to say goodbye.

I headed back to my seat in the early morning hours to find that I had a new seat partner.  I learned two lessons that night: the first is not to take prescription pills offered by other passengers.  The other is that if you pass out in the lounge car instead of sprawled across two coach seats (really the most comfortable way to sleep), Amtrak crew WILL assign you a seat partner who will sprawl across your seat until you come back.

The gentleman I shared a seat with was actually a really nice guy, and after we woke up, chatted the whole way to DC.  Not the worst possible situation, actually a rather pleasant one, but I won’t be sleeping in the lounge car again, just in case.

I’ve met some very entertaining people on the train, but the most entertaining ones I’d rather not share a coach seat with.

 


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