Grandmother Diary: When the kids travel

Nathan’s email this morning: “Made it. All bags and persons accounted for and off the train.”

I wasn’t really worried yet it’s nice to know they arrived after their 18 -hour train ride from NYC to Atlanta where they’re visiting Karen’s family.  Last time they took the train, with only one child, they’d encountered some unpleasantness; I was concerned about a repeat incident.

The journey began about noon yesterday when we met them at their apartment to assist getting them to Pennsylvania Station.  Two elevator trips later, four adults, two boys, ages 2 and 5 months;  the toddler car seat wrapped in plastic secured inside their shopping cart, two large rolling suitcases, an assortment of backpacks and duffles carrying food and toys, and the double stroller holding the infant car seat and the “rumble seat” were on the sidewalk.

We walked with them about 10 blocks to the subway, to begin the elevator process again to reach the downtown track.  As we walked, we joked that they looked like refugees; yet acknowledged that anyone leaving home wouldn’t have so much stuff.

At 34th street, it took two elevators—a little walk between each—to reach the concourse level.

The train was half the price of flying and allowed them to bring whatever liquids they wanted, keep their shoes on and avoid body scans. They could check two bags each for free.

We sat in the waiting area until it was time for them to board, sharing snacks. unnamed-3When the train was called, we Manhattan-20131225-00108unnamed-1accompanied the family and belongings into yet another elevator that brought us to the track level and said good-bye. unnamed-2unnamed

I’ll meet them at the station when they return in 10 days to help with last leg of  the  journey home.

I thought of my paternal grandfather who left home in Eastern Europe at age 16, never to see his parents again. I thought of all the refugees around the world in various conflicts now and in the past.  How they pack what they can carry, uncertain if they’ll ever return home again.  I thought of my daughter, leaving Sunday, back to her new city, San Francisco.  It’s always hard to see them go. 


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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15 Responses to Grandmother Diary: When the kids travel

  1. Love the story and photos Lisa. Your grandfather leaving at 16; that would make an amazing story as well! How sad to never see his family again…


  2. There is something very poignant about this story… the photos, the schlepping everything down then down again then up and down and all over and your willingness of spirit and caring nature that helps out to ensure everyone gets on their way safe and relatively relaxed and then your son letting you know they’d arrived…

    This is family at its best.

    A beautiful story Lisa — all inspired by your grandfather year’s ago. Lovely.


    • Thanks, Louise. Always appreciate your comments. I tried not to be too schmaltzy as they are going away for 10 days and we can talk, email, video chat, send photos, etc. but there was a sense of all that stuff– car seats, etc. Happy 2014! All best!


  3. Drjcwash says:

    Those grandkids are too cute. This can only happen in the northeast. A subway ride to Amtrak. In many other places it is a car ride and everyone a wreck by the time you get to the station. I love train travel. It also reminds me of trips my grandmother would take from Birmingham to Chicago to see her family. She loved the train. Flying was too expensive and she hated the bus ride. I love the trip to Atlanta. When John was 2, we went from Newark Penn to Birmingham. He was fascinated with the trip. He ran up and down the hall outside our sleeper and said “Hi” to everyone. When we arrived in Birmingham, my mother was waiting and he got a big hug from his “Mommy Jean.” She packed us in the car and we drove home.


  4. OmaOrBubby says:

    This post made me smile. The photos and kids are so cute, and the parents seem so relaxed and excited to go on their “journey” – kids love trains, so hopefully it was a pleasant and fun trip. So nice that you are supportive and close to them. I’m going to show this post to my husband who is a huge fan of taking kids on train rides….

    Funny that my daughter-in-law is also in Atlanta this weekend for her nephew’s bar mitzvah – but she flew! (and left the kids with Daddy who couldn’t miss work…)


  5. Wow Lisa! And I thought Nashville was a trek! Bob remembers taking a sleeper car as a child with his family to visit an aunt in NC. I love taking the train 2 hours to DC for a day trip. Couldn’t imagine being this brave – 18 hours w a baby and a toddler? That said, lugging a stroller and a car seat on a plane through security is nothing to sneeze at 🙂


    • I’ve never done a long train trip and would like to experience it, though not sure if I’d have the energy to do with little kids and all the luggage.

      On Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 9:31 AM, cyclingrandma


  6. That’s quite a long trek with two babies. Kudos to them . I love the pics of your happy family. 🙂


  7. david burg says:

    Lisa, good for them. Too bad we do not have more highspeed trains in US. I remember your grandpa Abe telling me about the first time he saw a train…there were none in his little shtetl (village) in the Ukraine. He was born in the 1890s, if I remember right. His village had no electricity, running water, paved roads. He died in 1990 in Connecticut. Mind boggling to think of the changes he saw in his lifetime.


    • Yes, Nathan’s colleague who is European calls the US an “almost developed” country. Our transportation- the little there is – is expensive and pathetic. Yes, he saw so many changes as we are seeing now. Like blogging & the Internet!


  8. Thanks. They have a good attitude about it and look at it as an adventure.


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