Oct 16, 2017

Adirondack Railroad trip

There is still time to take a short trip before the snow flies.  Recently, John and I had a great two-day, one-night vacation. We drove to Utica where we checked into the Hotel Utica which recently reopened as a DoubleTree by Hilton after extensive upgrading. The hotel first opened its doors in 1912 just a few weeks before the fateful voyage of the Titanic. Walking into the two-story lobby with glittering chandeliers and a wraparound balustrade balcony where Judy Garland once sang to her many admirers it is easy to feel the grandeur of its early days when the posh found it the place to stay in the Utica area. During its heyday the hotel hosted presidents, sports figures, and a slew of famous people. 

After checking in and getting our warm chocolate chip cookie we settled in and walked across the street to Ocean Blue for dinner. Ocean Blue Restaurant and Oyster Bar is located on the top floor of the Landmarc Building with a large rooftop patio overlooking the city and sunset. It is part of the revitalization of Utica. There is a dedicated elevator to the slick, trendy restaurant with an open kitchen and it is even possible to
reserve a Chef’s Table where the chef will do the cooking and serving. There indoor dining but it was a beautiful day so we dined on the rooftop patio. I opted for a dinner made up of some of their side veggies while John took advantage of their fresh clam and oysters.  We dallied until the sun set. Their food is locally sourced when possible. It was a lovely relaxing evening. We returned to the Hotel Utica for a nightcap in their Chophouse by Chesterfield restaurant. 

In the morning we ordered room service so we could relax before checkout. The Adirondack Railway trips leave from Utica’s Union Station. Union Station is one of those grand old stations with marble columns built by the same architect who designed Grand Central Terminal. Check out the wooden benches.  They have heating ducts in them so travelers in the winter will feel warm and cozy. There was plenty of parking in the area and all parking in Utica is free.

The Adirondack Railroad started in the 1970s but it wasn’t until the 90s that it really got organized and became successful.  Our trip from Utica to Thendara with no stopover had over 300+ people when we left Utica.  About 100 got off in Thendera and continued on to Saranac Lake by bus.  They were part of a tour group. I would have liked to have had lunch at
 the Van Auken’s Hotel which is just steps from the Thendera Station. However, there was a Club Car so we ate on the train.  They even serve wine and beer.  Many people brought their own food. As the train traveled north the trees became more colorful. Some were a
brilliant red. It was a relaxing way to see the foliage and view areas that are only visible from the train.  They offer several other trips I’d like to take.  The Loomis Train Robbery sounds like a lot of fun.  I remember reading about the Loomis Gang, a Central New York family of thieves. The Adirondack Railroad also runs a Clown Train, Hobo Train, but their most popular is the Polar Express, based on the popular book, and sells out early.