Apologies for the dearth of posts this week -- I (HT) have been in a faraway land, at a conference designed for all of the nationwide researchers at the nonprofit that employs me, and which just barely pays my bills. There's no need to get into the nitty-gritty of the insanity of 3.5 days holed up in a conference center and hotel in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic region, complete with terrifyingly bad hotel-school-produced industrial meals and college-era-esque afterhours parties in
dorm hotel rooms. Good god.
Which is all to say: the NYC-based team (including yours truly) could not wait to get out of Dodge. Amtrak, on the other hand, had a different plan for us, which mostly involved a ridiculously long delay and then a canceled train and then finally all six of us plowing our way onto the next train that reached the station. Stuck for over an hour at a train station that had little more than a snack "bar" (see above photo) (and also: following an exhausting day of wrap-up speeches and something that was supposed to pass for "chicken"), all we wanted to do once we got on the train was drink. So we promptly stormed the Cafe Car in search of elixir...
MK and I, veterans of the drunk Amtrak ride back to NYC, knew what we wanted: half bottles (each) of white wine (sort of a deal at $12/bottle). AT attempted to follow suit, but was told by the Cafe Car attendant that Amtrak normally didn't sell this much wine (ha!); he would have to get beer. Miller Genuine Draft it would have to be.
We were also starving, which led us to decisions that one would normally never have to make back on land: MK and I got "pizza," and AT purchased an egg and sausage breakfast sandwich. All three were taken out of their little plastic packaging and microwaved. Yeah. Microwaved. I'll say now that the breakfast sandwich didn't fare so well -- it was a microwaved bagel, people. According to AT, the sausage also left something to be desired. On the other hand, the pizza -- MK got cheese, and I was somehow stuck with pepperoni -- was weirdly .... good. No, seriously. I mean, to be sure, the crust, post-microwave, was just sort of warm and soft, with no texture to speak of. But the cheese and sauce were strangely satisfying; the pepperoni on my pizza had a nice, salty goodness to them.
Polished off with wine that was just a notch above mediocre (hovering somewhere around passable, but definitely not something you should ever bring to a party), our Amtrak meal wasn't half bad. And for dessert -- what else? A nice long discussion about our Facebook pages.
Would I do it again? Hells yes. Who knew that the Cafe Car could hit the spot? (Sure, sure, the fact of being stuck on a train probably helps.) But would I do it on land? Yeah, right. Try to microwave pizza in New York City and just watch the riots unfold.