A Florida Transplant heads north.

As we left the church, my wife, Marge, leaned toward the priest and said, “We cane up here from Florida, for the spring.”  The priest considered this for a second and then broke into a hardy laugh.   We walked on out of the church into the half foot of snow in the parking lot.

“Riding on the City of New Orleans” somehow sounds better than “Riding on the Auto Train,” but that’s what we did.  We’d often thought of taking the Auto Train (that runs from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia, just south of the District of Columbia) to DC.  We’d never done it because we believed it was too expensive.   We've passed on a lot of things because of cost, only to later realize we’d missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. So when Marge’s brother-in-law was hospitalized and we offered to come up for a week to help lighten the load, we decided to take the plunge.  We went for the whole shooting match, our own private compartment.

 The Autotrain station lived up to rail road standards. It was a little dog-eared around the edges, but seemed to function fairly well. The woman with the video camera is an Auto Train employee.  She gets a picture of every vehicle that goes on board BEFORE they are in railroad custody!

 I was surprised at the number of people using the Auto train.  Check-in for SUV's was at least two hours before departure and passenger loading started at around an hour ahead of time.  We found our little bit of the world and settled in.   

It was neat and clean and most things worked well.  After departure, a woman came over the P.A. system and told us a little about the train.  It’s the longest passenger train in the world, being almost ¾ of a mile in length. One thing she didn't’t tell us was that Amtrak leases the rails from the RR, so we would have to wait for any freight to pass.  This didn't’t happen often and we arrived on time. 

 Traveling by rail, you get to see America’s backyard.  The streets end at the tracks and the accumulation of junk was almost always before us.  We only got the “grand views,” of the posters when we crossed water.  The sound of the engineer, blowing his horn was almost constant in some larger towns and cities.  I did spot a group of 4 wild turkeys and at least one Hobo “Jungle.”

 The most noticeable thing about the trip was the condition of the rails.  As I said, the Auto Train leases the tracks from other railroads.  The other companies really don’t care about the comfort of passengers.  The ride can be smooth or bone jarring, depending on the section of track.  I was awakened several times during the night, when the car lunged sideways with a thud!  Marge didn't’t sleep as well as I did. But the food was good and the ride was, for the most part, relaxing and both Marge and I agreed we’d do it again.

 The trip around Washington was the usual hassle.  By this time I know what lanes to be in before I get there.  This helps a lot because being caught in the wrong lane on the beltway, even at mid-morning, can mean you miss a turn!  Four lanes of traffic and its still bumper to bumper!

The first two days we were there the weather was mild.   But Friday morning, when I went out to look at our car, it was covered in snow.  The weatherman said it wouldn't’t be heavy and wouldn't’t last long.

By late afternoon, our car was covered by several inches of snow!

 And the snow kept coming down!

 Saturday morning was fishing with Mark Wendt and anyone else crazy enough to show up.  I came out to more snow and a windshield covered in ice.  My sister-in-law and my wife demanded I dress like the younger brother in “A Christmas Story.” Not knowing the condition of the roads, I left early to make it to or meeting place on time.  Mark was waiting for me.  While we were eating breakfast we were joined by Will Price.  We talked Bamboo Rod building and machine making over coffee, then Mark said, “Let’s go fishing!”  Sounded good to me.  (But then I’m a little nuts.)

 They decided to stay in the area and we ended up on Big Hunting Creek, just outside Thurmont.

 Don’t we look like a bunch of covers for December issues of fly fishing magazines?  There was about 10 inches of snow on the ground.

Will, in the distance



I didn't’t catch any fish, but may have had one hit when my line went tight then lose again. Mark got a fish, off the bat, and had another hit, in a pool I’d just left.  He worked the fish for some time, but couldn't’t get a second strike.

Before we quit, I noticed my line didn't seem to want to move through the guides.  Yep, Ice.

 Eventually the three of us said enough and headed back to the Mountain Gate Café, for something warm to drink.  Here’s the official picture.  Will on the left, Mark in the center and me on the right. 

 Before we parted I ask them to test cast a rod that had two different tips.  Mark liked one tip and Will liked the other.  I guess I’ll have to offer that rod with the "Went" or "Price" tip!

 Over the next few days the snow melted and we took Gorge to his doctors’ appointment and for a drive through the countryside.  We visited Union Bridge and were greeted with a fairly large Mill.  The sign outside said Portland Cement.  It was a strange thing to find such a large mill the middle of Maryland horse country.  Notice, the snow's almost all gone.

Speaking of Animals, there was no shortage of pets to curl up with us. 

is a Newfoundland, named after Omaha Beach where George went ashore on 6 June,1944, with the 29th Infantry Div.

 The white cat looks like he should have come out of a fantasy novel, and is deaf.  He's wild and won't let anyone but my Sister-in-Law near.

 Stripes has a habit of waiting for you to lay down on your back, then climbing on your chest.  He has a purr that will shake the windows. 

 Clarisse is beautiful, but into everything.  She gets locked in the bedroom at night, to keep the house from falling into absolute chaos.

 Lela is the newest addition to the household.  Like all the cats, she just showed up one day.  She’s still kitten enough to chase a ball of tin-foil for hours.  She eggs Clarisse on.


 Pete {Pet-ee’) is the other dog in the household.  I walked him about 3 times a day.  We watched the snow slowly melt together.  He was fascinated by the two horsed down the street.

 Soon, it was time to head home.   We barreled down I-95 and westbound on I-10  Traffic was light until we turned onto I-75, headed to Tampa.  I don’t know where they all came from but we were in constant traffic from then on.

 Glad we went but, it’s good to be home.