Earlier today I drove to Clifton Forge, VA and picked up Matt after his long adventure out and back. It was a very different experience from dropping him off in Staunton, VA. Zoe went with me as she as been a little mopey since last Sunday when this whole adventure began.
The 1 hour ride to Clifton Forge is 1000 times better than the drive to Staunton on 81. Rt 220 goes directly to Clifton Forge. It was a delightfully scenic divided highway most of the way until the last 10 miles or so. Going up I only passed one (maybe two) tractor trailers. I knew I was early so I took my time and really enjoyed the scenery. Because of weather delays coming out of Chicago the train ended up being about 3+ hours late. I had to chuckle at the Amtrak customer service rep. I asked when exactly the train would arrive in Clifton Forge, she said 3:30ish. I just thought how silly that would sound to any European. ish, now that is something I would say about when arriving for dinner but not for a train. Seems it isn’t that much of an exact science.
Clifton Forge’s Amtrak Station/platform leaves a little something to be desired. If you are looking for the full train platform experience then stay with Staunton. But if it is a closer/easier commute from Roanoke with a descent parking area then opt for Clifton Forge. The signage into the station is almost non existent. I guess most people from there know where it is.
The town itself was a bit lost in time. The downtown has a crazy one way two street pattern that didn’t seem to have that much traffic to control. Not sure if we were just being directed to the second street of stores or why exactly the streets were like that. One interesting place that caught my eye was the C & O Railway Heritage Center. As I approached I was hoping that this was the train station. You can see and learn about trains there but not Amtrak. And then the other very odd thing that caught my eye was the Kroger. The style of the building took me back to my childhood. It was set up exactly as I remember the Kroger and SuperX (drugstore) in my neighborhood. A long vestibule with storefront windows and then a small cramped store. Definitely a flashback lost in time.
So after meandering around Clifton Forge for a short time Zoe and I went to find our spot to keep a lookout for Matt’s train. First lots of CSX cars and trains at the very industrial railyard/Amtrak stop. Then finally a light and an Amtrak train. Matt was one of the first off. He looked tired, dirty and very glad to be home.