The Newtown Pentacle

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stage one of my September travels, accomplished using Amtrak to get from place to place, saw Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself entering Moynihan Penn Station early on a rainy day. This was actually the first time I’d stepped foot inside of the new facility and it was pretty impressive. I plan on going back sometime soon just for photos, but given that I was burdened down with luggage and my entire camera setup was on my back…

This journey was on a train line that Amtrak had recently reinstated after several years, “The Vermonter.” Our final destination was meant to be Essex Junction, which is a town neighboring Burlington in the state of Vermont. The announcement signaled it was time to board and we left the bright cavern of Moynihan Station and descended into the stygian darkness of Penn Station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the way Amtrak works involves you telling the Conductor where you’re going and then you get directed into one of the several cars on their train. They seem to group travelers together by destination, which – as it turns out – is a fairly prosaic practice. Once onboard, you’re adjured to use the luggage racks and reminded about wearing a mask. After the train leaves the station, conductors move through the line checking tickets and answering questions from the riders.

There were a surprisingly substantial number of people on the train, which I wasn’t expecting for a mid week and fairly long distance trip. Turns out that this route travels through coastal Connecticut for much of the run, and that a lot of people get to and from there by Amtrak rather than commuter rail.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Vermonter exited the East River tunnels, rode through the Sunnyside Yards, and surmounted the Hell Gate Bridge heading north. My original intention was to be productive on this trip, but honestly I ended up staring out of the window for most of it. Some of my homemade camera equipment was utilized, a foam collar for the lens which allowed me to cancel out reflections and shoot cleanly through the window.

I’ve got a couple of image sequences which I’ll be offering at some point in the future, but for today it’s just static ones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is vastly more comfortable to travel using Amtrak than it is to fly. “Vastly” is actually an understatement. The car that Our lady of the Pentacle and I were traveling in was mostly empty, whereas other ones were well populated. Again, this is where that system they use comes in. There were a bunch of stops along the way where the doors to our car didn’t even open.

There’s a cafe car, which was at the rear of the train on this journey, and I ate the Amtrak microwaved hamburger. I’d describe it as “modern day soldier food” and it really wasn’t terrible. Better than McDonalds? Let’s put it in the same range, although Amtrak doesn’t have pickles or special sauce. Point is that it “filled the hole” and I can now say that I ate an Amtrak Burger.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In New Haven, Connecticut, they switch out the electric engine for a diesel one and there’s a short layover wherein you’re allowed to exit the train and stretch your legs. They also changed crew there. Observationally speaking, they seem to change crews more or less when the train is crossing state lines. Must be a union thing, I guess.

At any rate, after they attached the Diesel unit to the front of the train, we continued hurtling northwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Vermonter was an all day trip, and we arrived at Essex Junction well after dark. Luckily, they use ride share services up there too, and a quick cab ride got us to the hotel. We settled in and grabbed a meal and a couple of drinks at the hotel restaurant and then went to sleep. An early alarm was set, as adventure awaited us the next day.

More to come tomorrow, from the Socialist Paradise of Burlington, Vermont.

As a note, with all of the missed sleep and weird schedule I’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks I’m completely divorced from my normal schedule. Going to bed late, waking up in the afternoon, not normal. It’s going to take a few days until Newtown Pentacle, thereby, returns to its normal schedule.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 27, 2021 at 2:00 pm

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