The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 22nd, 2022

return therefrom

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was a simple plan, really, but what happens when you dare the MTA to screw your day up is where simple plans go all wrong. As mentioned in the past, a humble narrator’s normal habit is to be very early for any appointment. A 10:52 a.m. Amtrak assignation at Penn/Moynihan saw me leaving HQ at just after 9:15 a.m., and after purchasing supplies for a long train journey I was down in the station waiting for a subway by 9:35. Ample time to get there. Right?

Of course, neither the MTA nor I planned on the E sitting under the East River for a little better than 45 minutes, or me missing my Amtrak ticket because of the Subway delay. $111 later, after rapidly buying a second ticket for the last train from NYC to Pittsburgh, I was on my way. Of course, my original journey was going to be about 8 hours long, but thanks to MTA, I now had a 13 hour ride ahead of me – one which saw me riding a local service Amtrak to Washington DC and then transferring onto a Capitol Line Chicago bound train to get to Pittsburgh. Grrr.

– photos by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit in such circumstance, there’s no point in getting angry about it. I settled into a seat and stared out the window, shooting random photos out the windows. The YouTube video above has no sound, nor does the other one below. The one above depicts what I saw on the journey from NYC to Washington DC – which includes the northeast rail corridor in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

I think it was something like four and change hours on this leg. Truth be told, it’s all kind of blurry after the ninth hour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a brief layover of about 40 minutes in Washington. The Amtrak ticket agent who saved my day back in NYC was fantastic, I should mention. I explained my situation to her, and she barked out “you’ve got seven minutes, give me a credit card and your drivers license.” That was followed by “sign this, and do you have explosives or weapons?” She handed me back my ID and credit card with the new ticket, and said “you have four minutes to catch the train at Track 15, RUN.”

When we arrived in Washington, I debarked the train and walked outside to get some air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the appointed time, I began making my way down to the boarding area. The direct to Pittsburgh trip from NYC, as mentioned, is about 8 hours. This new combination, on the other hand, was going to be just over 13 hours. That’s Washington D.C.’s Union Station pictured above, by the way.

Our Lady of the Pentacle would be flying out from NYC the next day and meeting me at the airport in Pittsburgh, where our plan involved renting a car from the Avis outfit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I ended up being assigned a seat on the Capitol Line next to a nice kid who liked to chat, and as it further turned out we shared several interests. He was a youngster, so we struck a deal where I’d buy the coffee if he would go wait on line at the cafe car for it at the other side of the train. This worked out great. For me, at least.

I played with my phone, stared out the Amtrak’s window, and occasionally affixed a little foam collar to my lens so that I could gather photos of the great American landscapes Amtrak puts on display as the train moved through basically all of Pennsylvania.

– photos by Mitch Waxman

It felt like I was on the cusp of attaining enlightenment, that’s how long this trip was… Saying that, I still prefer Amtrak to flying. It wasn’t their fault, me being delayed. For once, I didn’t leave my house two and a half hours in advance of an appointment, and thereby it’s my fault.

This was June 21st, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just before midnight, Amtrak dropped me off in Pittsburgh. I still had to get to my rented room, an AirBNB found a few miles away in the Brookline section. A quick cab ride found me standing in front of the place at about 12:30 a.m. Funnily enough, about two blocks from where I was staying in Brookline, Pittsburgh has both a Flatbush and Queensboro Avenue. Brookline is really nice, but they obviously spelled it wrong. Lyn… it’s Brooklyn, not Brookline. Hicks.

More next week, at this – your traveling Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 22, 2022 at 11:00 am

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