New England Trip – Days 7 and 8
- 129 miles driven
- 2 trains
- 1 subway
- 2 planes
- 1 geocache found
With the dawn of day seven, we knew it was time to begin our journey home. I had done most of our packing the night before, so we just had a few things to put in our luggage this morning. We ate breakfast in our room, and then checked out of our hotel.
We left Bangor and drove south to Portland, Maine. Along the way we finally saw a moose after seeing signs all through New England warning us of them crossing the road. Ok, so it wasn’t a real moose. But we still posed for pictures with it.
In Portland, we turned in our rental car that had served us so well for the past week. One of the benefits of renting from Enterprise is that they pick you up or deliver you to your destination after you return the car. A very chatty gentleman drove us in our car to the Amtrak station a few minutes away.
We had arrived well ahead of time for our train to leave and it was lunch time. We could see the station had nothing but vending machines to offer, so I talked with an Amtrak agent and asked where we could find something to eat within walking distance.
I would like to pause here to comment on how friendly and helpful New Englanders are. Everywhere we went, we encountered some of the nicest people we have ever dealt with while traveling. Growing up in the south, practicing good manners was ingrained in me. I learned to say, “Yes, ma’am,” to hold the door for the person entering behind me, and to wave at anyone who drives past, whether I know them or not.
But, I have seen courtesy slipping out of vogue in the south, especially in customer service. Not everywhere. There are obviously some businesses that still stress this with their employees. However, I am encountering more and more people lately who are just going through the motions and trying to get through the work day. I also see more of a distrust of those who are “not like us” in the south, and boundaries being drawn because of race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status.
Not so in New England. I can only think of two people I interacted with (both were servers in restaurants) that were anything short of open, welcoming, and willing to help. I did not feel like I was an interruption to their day or regular routine, or that I was being judged. And, these folks all seemed genuine in their friendliness; not like someone who is acting this way because it is their job.
So, back to our helpful Amtrak employee. She directed us to a nearby Italian deli/market and even dug a copy of their menu out of her drawer for us to look at before me made the trip there. It was a few blocks away, and we walked there dragging our luggage along behind us. It turned out to have a wide variety of offerings from pasta to hot and cold sandwiches. We both ordered steak and cheese subs, and took them outside to eat at a picnic table. We then walked back to the station and waited for time to board the train.
We rode the Downeaster train which took us from Portland to Boston with several stops in between. Signal and I enjoyed watching the scenery and I knitted while Deban mostly slept. A steward came to offer us drinks, and later a train host came through asking if anyone needed information about Boston or assistance finding their way around the station.
The Amtrak employee back in Portland had offered some advice for our time in Boston. She asked how we planned to transfer from the North Station where the Downeaster train arrives to the Back Bay Station where we would need to catch our train to Providence. I told her I had researched it and we would be taking the subway. Not realizing that we are seasoned travelers used to using public transportation in big cities, she recommended that we take a taxi. She also told us that we needn’t rush to get to Back Bay because the North Station was much more accommodating and there would be more choices in the way of food there.
When we arrived in Boston, we looked around the station and saw only fast food, pizza and Dunkin Donuts. We decided to go outside (still dragging our luggage along) and find somewhere to eat supper. About a block from the station we found a pub that served food. We decided to split a chef salad since the server told us they are quite large and we weren’t terribly hungry.
While we were waiting for our meal to come, I went out to find a nearby geocache. The Boston North Station is adjacent to TD Garden arena where the Celtics and Bruins play. Right outside of the arena in the middle of this busy city is a geocache sitting in plain sight. It is near a statue of Boston Bruins star Bobby Orr and is a fake rock key-holder. Despite the thousands of people flowing by at 5:00 on Friday afternoon, I was able to sit down on a low wall right next to the cache, retrieve, sign and replace it without being noticed. For those of you who are not geocachers, you probably don’t realize but there are geocaches hidden all around you. You probably pass a dozen or more each day!
I arrived back at the pub just as our salad was delivered. Since we had told the server we were sharing, she had asked the kitchen to divide it into two bowls, and we both had plenty to eat.
After our meal, we went back to the station and began following the signs to the Orange Line which we would need to take to Back Bay. The signs directed us back out onto the street I had just been on to find the geocache and we followed the crowd across the street. A policeman saw us with our luggage and asked if we knew where we were going. I pointed over to the doors across the next street and said, “Yes, the Orange Line.” He said, “Here, go in this way and you can take the elevator,” taking us in a door on our side of the street. Apparently that New England hospitality even extends to the big city of Boston.
At the Back Bay Station there were tons of people waiting to get on the same train we were taking. We had reserved First Class seats because they were only slightly more expensive than coach. We were not certain where the First Class cars would be, so decided to get on in the middle of the train since we knew we would only have a couple of minutes to get on once the train arrived. Unfortunately, this meant we then had to walk, dragging our luggage, on a moving train, through about five or six overstuffed cars. All of the seats were full and people were sitting on the floor and crowding the aisle.
We finally found empty seats in First Class and settled in for the short 25 minute ride. Once we arrived in Providence, we took a cab to our hotel near the airport. Our driver was very excited about the huge lottery jackpot for which the drawing would be held the following day. He pointed out a billboard with an electronic sign that shows the current amount and laughed that it said 999 million because they did not have the ability to put 1 billion on the sign.
He said that he had bought a ticket with other taxi drivers and they would split the $1 billion if they won. He asked if we had bought tickets. When we told him we hadn’t he encouraged us to saying we couldn’t win if we didn’t play. When we pulled into the hotel parking lot he pointed to a convenience store across the street and said, “Don’t forget to buy your tickets!”
We settled into our room, watched some television, and knitted some more. Since the hotel offered a free breakfast, we each ate our remaining yogurts as an evening snack. We went to bed late, and slept late since we did not have to check out until 11:00. After breakfast we checked out and took the shuttle to the airport.
While waiting for our flight I decided to get some exercise and walked in the terminal. At the far end from our gate I was able to see the New England Patriots’ airplane sitting on the tarmac. I was taking a picture of it when a young man came over and asked if I had seen any team members yet. He had just landed, and as his plane taxied by he saw it. He was very excited and even FaceTimed a friend to tell them and show them the plane.
Our flights home went without a hitch. No delays or problems of any kind. We made it home at 8:00 pm that evening after two days of planes, trains and automobiles. Our New England adventure had come to an end, but our memories will last a lifetime.