Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Training Time

Not as in doing any exercise, but as in riding on a 🚉 —for a very long time from NH to FL.

An earlier post, Gonna Take . . . referenced a train ride in the context of a popular 1940s song, Sentimental Journey.

However, this recent trip was a 🎂 gift (thanks again for the well wishes) from my ever-so-thoughtful husband who said this was a shared birthday trip. 

That it coincided with a ham radio event was just coincidence, he explained with a smile. He wanted to attend HamCation®, the second largest ham radio show in the U.S. at the Central Florida Fairgrounds & Expo Park in Orlando, FL, Feb 7-9 and suggested a train ride.
Online source

Last spring, he posed a similar query which led to an extended road trip after we went to Xenia, OH for Hamvention®, the largest U.S. amateur ham radio gathering. Afterwards, we traveled a route that took us through GA, AL, FL, VA  to visit family and friends. Last spring, he posed a similar query which led to an extended road trip after we went to Xenia, OH for Hamvention®, the largest U.S. amateur ham radio gathering. Afterwards, we traveled a route that took us through GA, AL, FL, VA  to visit family and friends.

Our travels took us from NH to FL and included a bus ride and two train rides each way. The bus trip was the shortest from NH to Boston, MA, at just over an hour. In South Street Station, Boston, we boarded a train to Penn Station NYC which was about 3-1/2 hours. And, NYC to Orlando, FL, was an overnighter at just under 8 hours.

Train coach seating is far more generous than a plane coach seat. Seats recline and have footrests. We opted to sleep in ours vs. paying extra $ for a sleeper compartment. That decision was based on our desire to see if we could do it and how comfortable (or not) it would be — it was not
Amtrak photo

Going to FL and seated in the middle of the coach car, we slept or rather catnapped. But, on the return trip, we were seated near the doors which were very extremely noisy when approaching/leaving a station stop. (It was not a non-stop trip.) If we ever take another overnight trip, we'll pay for a sleeper. 

Admittedly, my interest in ham radio is zero. But, if a road trip of any sort is involved, then I'm a very willing travel companion. I've attended some local ham radio events in New England and can always find ways to keep busy while Grenville is at these events. I had a slight cold before we left for FL, so lounging in our room or the hotel lobby was OK with me. I watched several online movies and read 2 books previously downloaded to my Kindle. It was very relaxing.

Temps hovered in the mid-70s during our visit, so I spent part of an afternoon at the historic Orlando Train Station, a short walk from our hotel. We'd arrived here a couple of days earlier, but didn't look around while awaiting a rental car pick-up.

The Mission Revival style station was built in 1926 by M. A. Griffith and W. T. Hadlow for the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) Railroad at a cost of $500,000. At the station’s opening in January 1927, more than 6,000 visitors came to tour the new facility

The stucco-faced station includes two domed towers that flank the entrance and a long arcade. The Orlando sign that bears the city’s name was hand-designed by Griffith, the station’s architect, and is considered one of its finest features. In 1978, the station was designated a historic local landmark representing Orlando’s history, culture and heritage. In 1990, the city undertook a major building renovation and repaired the tile roof, twin domes and stucco surfaces and restored original light fixtures, wood doors and windows. Replacement fixtures, windows and doors were crafted to blend with their counterparts. A new coat of paint was added, based on historic color schemes. 

It became part of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad after the ACL merged with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1967. It's now served by Amtrak, the U.S. national railroad passenger system, SunRail, the commuter rail service of Greater Orlando, and local and intercity buses. It provides service to over 160,000 passengers a year.

Despite near several Florida theme parks like Disney, Universal, Epcot, Sea World, we had no interest (or time) to visit any. And, you would be surprised at the number of people who asked if we did go to any. (Our interest level is zero for any of these attractions.)

Instead on our last full day in Orlando, we went to Lake Eola, a public park in the heart of Downtown Orlando, with a nearly 1 mile long sidewalk that circles the artificial lake. The lake is actually a sinkhole that's now famous for its fountain. 

In 1883, wealthy Orlando resident and hotel owner Jacob Summerlin, the first City Council president, donated land around the lake on the condition that it be beautified and turned into a park with trees and a "driveway" put in around the lake. To ensure that the city followed through with these stipulations, Summerlin put reverter clauses in the contract allowing the family to take back the property if the city failed to maintain it. 

His sons named it Lake Eola, after a lady they knew. The area was officially declared as a park in 1892 and has since been home to a zoo, horse race track, tennis courts, and pier with a dance area. 

The fountain was installed in 1912 at a cost of $10,000. This now iconic water feature is an official symbol of Orlando and is named the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. Allen was a banker, traveler, veteran of both World Wars, and a prominent figure in Orlando's early days. He persuaded the city to put a fountain in Lake Eola. It was named the Centennial Fountain marking the city's 100th anniversary of its name. After Allen's 1965 death, the fountain was renamed in his honor.

Lightning struck the fountain  in August 2009, rendering it inoperable. The city had a $1 million insurance policy and not only repaired the fountain, but installed a state-of-the-art light system and water jets at a $2.3 million cost. It resumed operation July 2011.

The fountain, while striking, isn't the only remarkable sight at Lake Eola. There are various forms of wildlife including ducks, swans (five different species), geese, curlew, cormorants, egrets, herons and turtles. Food can be purchased at vending machines for feeding the wildlife as most can't digest bread. The swan and turtle in the photos below intently watched each other for quite awhile.

It's not unusual to see the birds very close to the lake's shoreline where they often nest. This swan was building a nest during our visit. Another nest already had several eggs.

As wonderful as warm weather was in Fl, we were glad to return home to New England. A number of birthday cards were waiting when we picked up the mail.
Cards are always displayed on the bookcases in our apartment home. It makes me smile to see them every day. Do you also display cards?

Even though my actual birthday has passed, it doesn't mean the celebration is over. After all, there are 364 days until the next one — So celebrate a birthday year 🎈


LL Cool Joe said...

Happy Belated Birthday! It was my birthday on the 3rd Feb and I've only just removed my cards that were displayed on the window sill.

Edna B said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I love the photos. I've always wanted to take one of these sightseeing trips via train or river boat. What a fabulous birthday gift! When we first started going to Florida for our vacation, many years ago, we did all these tourist places. Now I just go there to sit on my porch and enjoy the warm weather. And take in a flea market or two. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

Michelle said...

Happy birthday 🎂. What a cool trip. I have been interested in traveling by train so I appreciate this post. Will have to share it with my husband.

Connie said...

How great to take a trip together for your birthday. I hope it was a wonderful day. The Orlando train station looks quite lovely. It's unfortunate that sleeping in your seats wasn't comfortable. Relaxing while watching movies and reading books sounds good to me. You got great pictures of the wildlife there.

mamasmercantile said...

Sounds like an amazing trip shame the seats didn't work out as hoped. I am a great fan of Florida and really enjoy the theme parks but there is so much more to this wonderful sunshine state.

Jon said...

What a fascinating and informative post! I especially love the gorgeous photos of the train, the Orlando Train Station, and those swans, geese, and ducks. Your trip to FL sounds wonderful.

I have a cousin who lives somewhere near Orlando.
I don't know much about ham radios, but I used to have a Bearcat scanner - which was lost when I moved to Tennessee.

I haven't been on a train since I was five years old. My family took a train from New Jersey to New Hampshire. It was autumn, and what I remember most is how gorgeous the trees looked.

Anyway, I enjoyed this post!

NCmountainwoman said...

What a great birthday gift. Wonderful train ride to warmer weather. I love to travel on trains and when we used to live in Milwaukee, we often took the train to Chicago. Continue the celebration!

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

Happy birthday Beatrice! 🎂

It sounds like a wonderful trip.

Ive been living in FL for many years, and like you, have no desire to visit theme parks. I’ve gone to Epcot and Universal Studio once, only because out of state friends who visited me wanted to go there.

Sandra said...

of course the we're adults, when did that happen made and instant impression. I want to know the answer. I love riding trains and would have enjoyed the train ride but not the bus part. also I can't even does sitting in a seat, but would love to try the sleeper... the trains sure look different than when I was riding the Seaboard Coast lines from 1944 to 1967..what a fun trip and I would have been happy with kindle and movies while bob went to his whatever...

Billy Blue Eyes said...

What a trip, that is a long way on a Train, I went on the sleeper to Edinburgh many years ago for work and that was overnight, came back in the day and that was no where near as far as you did. What a way to see the country. We do show cards but only the ones we send each other because people send very few now with the cost of postage

Christina said...

I love train journeys, so much more relaxing than plane journeys. I remember travelling all the way to Rome in a six berth sleeper cabin with complete strangers. It was a slightly surreal experience. Another time, further South in Italy, my friend and I were so engrossed in chatting and enjoying the scenery that we missed our stop. It was an intercity train, so quite a distance between stops.

Orlando looks like a place I'd like to spend time in. Thanks for sharing your trip.

DeniseinVA said...

How exciting and a wonderful read and look at all those great photos!

DUTA said...

The Orlando train station looks beautiful!
I would definitely like a ride on the Amtrak train, and feed the wildlife at Lake Eola!
The trip was a wonderful birthday gift!

Valerie said...

Belated birthday greetings and for sharing your lovely trip with your readers.

Erika N said...

That trip looks like so much fun. Like you, I am all for a road trip, even if it doesn't include the road. I hope the Ham radio convention was fun and you had as much fun doing that you like to do. Belated birthday greetings too. Hugs-Erika


what a delightful trip. a wonderful adventure for sure.

Karen Lakis said...

Sometimes it’s just nice to get away - the warmth was definitely a bonus! That park looks beautiful! I’m not much of a Disney theme park fan, either, but I did once go to Universal and enjoyed it. It sounds as though you had a nice trip even if you’re not a fan of ham radio.

William Kendall said...

The train station is a show stopper.