I was happy to be able to ride the train last weekend, Sunday, and I have to confess, I really like the green coaches very much. So much so, in fact, that I hope they remain green, permanently. I withdraw my earlier prayer for an eventual return to the orange and black.
For those of you who have yet to see the train in her new old colors, each coach has its number beautifully emblazoned in gold in the center of the car, beneath the windows. The 'ARCADE & ATTICA' has yet to appear above the windows, but an employee of the railroad explained to me that they simply haven't gotten around to that project yet.
No. 18 looks somehow better than I remember it looking last year. It's clean and shiny and looks brand new. The static displays in the parking lot have brand new access stairs worthy of the nicest backyard deck, and they look wonderful. They also make accessing the displays so much easier.
The depot looks a little more spruced-up than I recall it. I could swear there's a new little nook that wasn't there before. Also, the flow of traffic is now through the gift shop, which is a very intelligent idea.
No. 14 is still out of the garage, looking romantically pitiful. An employee named Patrick (not Connors) assured me that if I had an extra $2,000,000.00 on me, they could have it up and running for me. I likewise assured him that if I won the lottery, we'd have a deal.
Most interestingly, perhaps, is the gondola. I was disappointed not to find it on the train as, of course, riding in the gondola is more than half the fun. It wasn't there, however, because it's being refitted with a roof and seating. Apparently, the insurance company got on the A&A's case about it. Once the gondola is finished, the A&A will sell reduced fare tickets for passengers wishing to ride in that less comfortable (but much more interesting) car.
Disappointingly, a passenger can no longer walk from coach-to-coach. You must now remain in your seat throughout the journey. Again, the insurance company's demands, not the railroad's wishes. Buggering insurance companies.
The disturbing panhandler still rides the train, to my dismay, putting his upside-down tambourine in your face. I fail to see the charm of it, I'm afraid. I can get that on the subway in Buffalo. And that accursed accordian...I nearly offered him a 20 to stop playing it.
A note to whomever reads the historical notes over the public address system during the trip: save your breath. Nobody can understand a word you're saying (especially with that damn accordian playing). You sound like the teacher from the Peanuts.
The brochure: 1000 times nicer than the last one! But the text is riddled with stylistic disappointments and gramatical errors. Even so...1000 times better than the last one! Great images!
The hotdogs at Curriers are still the best anywhere and the staff and crew are still friendly, cheerful and pleased as punch to answer your inane questions for the 1000th time.
Finally, Patrick explained to me that the Arcade & Attica, far from stopping at green coaches, is planning to go all-out '1920s' in appearance and atmosphere! And I think that's just about the best news I've heard about the A&A in a long time; I hope they fully commit to that idea because it's a spectacular idea. One suggestion: lose the Country & Western music in the depot and replace it with period music, to wit: jazz. Ragtime, Dixieland, Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, &c, &c, &c. Sound has as much to do with creating an atmosphere as visuals do.
On the whole, I find myself more and more impressed with the changes and improvements every time I visit the railroad. It really does appear that somebody over there is doing alot of things right, and I commend the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Orange-agon for all the great work. Even the Orange-agon, itself, is starting to look nicer. It appears they're in the middle of giving it a fresh new coat of orange.
In short: I loved it, had a great time, and I can't wait to return in June to see the 'visiting' steam engine from Dunkirk!