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‘Are you talking to ME?’

October 23, 2013

It was a nice crisp October Saturday morning as the better half and I sat with our morning coffee. I had one section of the paper and she the other. “Today would be a beautiful day for a train ride through the mountains,” is what I heard. I looked over the rim of my glasses and in my best Robert DeNiro said, “Are you talking to me?”, quoting his character Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver.” Then the explanation came: in the town of Jim Thorpe, PA, there is the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which winds through the beautiful mountains, and the scenery is amazing this time of year.

Mind you, where this sounds like a nice day trip, I travel between six to seven hours a day on New Jersey Transit, Monday through Friday. The last thing I want to do on my day off was to climb back on a train. But life is about compromise, so I sipped on my coffee to listen to all the reasons that this was a “must-do” event. The leaves are in full autumn bloom and the views would be spectacular. The train is an open-air car where we could take photos out the windows, and then we could have a nice meal before we travel back home. I put the paper and my cup down and said, “How about same idea but another direction?”

So here we are on the 8:44 a.m. train from Port Jervis with our destination Hoboken, NJ. One thing I must say about this commute—it brings you through some beautiful countryside. The leaves are swirling outside our windows, dancing on the breeze caused by the train; this rainbow of fall colors alone makes the ride worthwhile. Each stop brings aboard more “weekenders” doing much of the same thing, enjoying the view.

The highlight of today’s trip will be the Moodna Viaduct, which spans the northern valley of the Schunemunk Mountains. The train slows to a crawl as you travel the span, which comes into view shortly after leaving the Salisbury Mills station. The mist is still rising from the stream below, and we are 193 feet in the air with the tree tops so close you can touch them. Surrounding us, the hills and mountains rise, blanketed with this splendor of color that is the fall foliage of the Upper Delaware and Hudson Valley. It is truly breathtaking.

Further down the line, the tracks parallel the Ramapo River, which is reflecting all the colors in the air as the fallen leaves slowly swirl with the moving river. I have fished this river many times, and this is a great time of year to be in my waders, but here I sit just taking it all in.