Hail, Hail Rock w/o Rail Locator map

Day 1
A Bit of National Road

Day 2
A Fort to a Paradise

Day 3
To Ocean City

Day 4
The Other Concert

Day 5
George's Stuff

Day 6
A Little Damp

Day 7
An Island in the Stream

Postlude - October 16, 2011
The locator map has been updated to show the actual driving route but I left the Amtrak route in place to show what might have been. I may try for the train trip again next fall but right now I'm a little bummed about Amtrak. The timing seemed so good this year. The leaves were starting to change and the weather would have been ideal on the eastbound journey. The two concerts and a little driving would have filled the time between going and coming wonderfully. In short, everything was perfect for a train ride except the train.

This was the one hundredth trip I've documented on this site. The first one started just over a dozen years ago on August 21, 1999, and was the only trip for that year. The pace has increased since then. My October 16 blog entry discusses this milestone a bit more.

October 13, 2011 (day 7)
Rain stayed away long enough to tour the reconstructed mansion on Blennerhassett Island then stayed with me for two-thirds of my crossing of Ohio. I was home at the end of the day.

October 12, 2011 (day 6)
It rained off and on for much of the day. It was never heavy but the lack of sun on the red and yellow leaves was disappointing. Stumbling on to the remains of a stone US-50 bridge made up for it a little.

October 11, 2011 (day 5)
I spent much of the day at Mount Vernon and the nearby mill and distillery but I did get back to US-50 and did get started west.

October 10, 2011 (day 4)
I followed US-50 all the was to DC and even walked on the mall for a bit. The all expressway style US-50 wasn't very thrilling but the day ended on a high note when I walked into a concert just by telling some guy my name.

October 9, 2011 (day 3)
I had breakfast at a cool diner then endured a lot of expressway and commercial clutter to reach Ocean City.

October 8, 2011 (day 2)
I started the day at Fort McHenry. From there it was over to Ellicott City then down to Bethesda to check in on a lady friend. The day ended with some marvelous music in a marvelous setting.

October 7, 2011 (day 1)
I've driven the National Road between Uniontown and Frederick before and I was pacing myself for day's end in Laurel, Maryland. Therefore, I mostly stopped only at some favorites. I did experience driving into Cumberland on the original alignment for the first time and I got a look at an old stone culvert along the way.

Prelude 2 - October 6, 2011
I received a phone call shortly before 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon. It was a recording telling me that the train on which I was scheduled to ride in barely 36 hours had been canceled. It needlessly informed me that no alternative was available and suggested I call Amtrak ASAP. I did, primarily to make sure both ends of the round trip ticket were canceled. The message had said something about "construction" and I did ask the agent I spoke with about that. He could tell me only that it was something near Charlottesville, VA, and that all service east of Indianapolis was suspended. Travel by rail from Cincinnati had gone from incredibly inconvenient to completely impossible; At least for the time being.

I proceeded to cancel my rental car reservations and even, for just the briefest moment, considered canceling the trip. But I soon moved on to considering routes. My first thought was to trace the path of the railroad but I soon realized that that would be tedious and probably more of a tease than satisfying. I also thought of a straightforward all expressway run to DC. In the end, I opted for all expressway to just inside Pennsylvania then US-40/National Road on east. When I was thinking of the expressway route I was also thinking of a Friday morning departure. The decision to drive at least part of the way on two-lanes was accompanied by a decision to leave Thursday.

I'm almost as upset about the trip title as I am about missing my long dreamed of autumn train ride in what promised to be perfect weather. I'd called this train centric outing to attend at least one and maybe two concerts "Hail, Hail, Rock 'n' Rail" and thought that extremely clever especially in light of my not terribly distant "Hail, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll" trip to see Chuck Berry. Without the train, the name became senseless and my decidedly unclever quick fix is to replace the "'n'" with "w/o". Of course, the locator map is also senseless but I'll fix that later.

Prelude 1 - September 18, 2011
For the past several years, at the approach of autumn and the changing of leaves, I've thought about a train ride to the east through the hills of both Virginias although the closest I've ever come is checking schedules and prices. In prior years, I've never had much reason to pick one date over another, which could partly be why I've never picked any and never took that train ride. But this year Dirk Hamilton, a singer-songwriter I've long admired, is doing a few concerts in the eastern US at just the right time and one is in just about the right place, too. On October 8, he's doing a house concert in Jessup, MD, about twenty miles from the center of Washington, DC. Washington, DC, is one of the few cities that it is possible to reach from Cincinnati via train.

Passenger trains pass through Cincinnati exactly six times each week. Eastbound trains come through on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; Westbound trains on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It's really just one train, you see, ping-ponging itself back and forth across the country with a day of rest on Monday. I can reach DC in time for a Saturday night concert by taking the Friday morning train. And that's not a break-of-dawn Starbucks-just-opened morning. It's a dark-of-night disco-just-closed 3:27 AM morning. If you are ever charged with making travel by rail incredibly inconvenient, just use Cincinnati as a model.

I may add a third element, another concert, to the train ride and Dirk appearance but that's unconfirmed just now. If it happens, I'll be in the DC area long enough to slip to the eastern terminus of US-50 and follow that route back to the Washington Monument. Even if that doesn't happen, and I head home on Sunday, I'll still have Saturday's daylight hours for a little exploring. The locator map behind the button at the top of this page assumes I'll not start home until Wednesday and shows the US-50 drive. I'll change the map if that falls through. The red line is the route of Amtrak's Cardinal between Cincinnati and Washington.

No independent audit has yet verified it but, if I've been counting correctly, this will be the one-hundredth road trip documented on this site.

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