Amtrak #2 (of 4) had us taking the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to Syracuse. We hemmed and hawed, but in the end decided to leave our bikes behind. That simplified the travel, and while we still got dropped off and picked up by our dads at both ends, we did most of the ride into Chicago’s Union Station via the Metra commuter rail line, our 3rd public-transit mode used in the city.
We’re much more experienced with the Neil’s-parents to Rett’s-dad train line, though with our last two Amtrak trips being on long-distance West Coast routes that have two-level Superliner cars, it was almost a surprise to see the squat one-level Amfleet cars waiting for us on the platform. Still roomy and comfortable though, and like Denver-to-Chicago, most of the 13-hour travel is overnight, so it feels relatively-efficient.
Last year we stayed with Ken for nearly a month from mid-June to mid-July, and then again for nearly two months from early October to the end of November. This time we’d have only nine days, but the late-September/early-October timeframe lets us fill in a micro-season we didn’t experience last year. While it isn’t yet the full-color Finger Lakes fall, it’s still a beautiful time in a beautiful place.
Last summer we climbed an aluminum ladder up to the second floor and slept on the unfinished floor on top of our camp mattresses and sleeping bag. This time we can climb a permanent (if still steep) staircase, and now have a custom built-in bed to sleep in! It’s always been a comforting and welcoming place to stay for me, and now it’s even better. As nomads frequently taking refuge with our families, I expected we’d have begun wearing out our welcome by now, so we’re very grateful to feel the opposite.
We did comparatively little around the still-impeccable tourist town this time, prioritizing togetherness in this briefer period, best exemplified by Rett and her dad’s nightly excursion through a big box of old photos that he’d recently unearthed.
Our one big excursion was a country drive two lakes over to the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake and the small town of Aurora. Over the last 20 years, the founder of The American Girl doll company has poured a bunch of money into the town, renovating a bunch of historic buildings and turning them into a distributed high-end inn. The original Aurora Inn houses their fine-dining restaurant, a perfect place to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It was a little early, and really expensive, but we figured it would be a better value than we could get in Chicago on our actual anniversary. The close attention we got from four servers as one of the few couples out on their back porch, overlooking the lake, is an experience we couldn’t have gotten in the city for any price! Five years is both a surprise that snuck up on us, and a lengthy stretch of our lives. It’s wild to think that if we’re still out roaming at this time next year, more than half of our married life will have been our life on the road together!