Dancing the Megatropolis


Chapter 1: Olive, VA to Washington



I had some Amtrak credit to burn, so I took a train from New York to Washington, caught a Nats game and had drinks with friends, and took another train to Fredericksburg, VA. There’s actually decent-seeming municipal bus service in Fredericksburg, but I was traveling on a Sunday so my options were much more limited. So I got a cab to a hotel south of Fredericksburg and close-ish to the station. 


Another taxi deposited me at the Spotsylvania station (pardon me, boy?) and I was surprised to see how much it’d changed since 2016 (more on that anon.) On my prior visit, the station was all by itself, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with a 70,000 square foot Beretta gun warehouse and distribution center as its only neighbor. Now, all that empty space was filled with block after block of identical-seeming apartment houses. I guess it’s good that there’s some higher-density housing sited next to a rail corridor!


The station was deserted when I arrived half an hour ahead of time, but eventually I had five or six other people join me on the platform. A long freight train trundled past, and then our train pulled in a couple minutes ahead of schedule.


VRE Train 314

Spotsylvania, VA to Washington, DC

Fare: $12.75


Our train left bang on time at 7:46am, and I went to the upper level of a spotless 6-year-old gallery car. I didn’t manage to get a good picture as we were really moving, but the first point of interest we passed was the Meade Pyramid, in a field off to our right. There’s something fascinating (to me, at least) about an inaccessible monument that can’t be seen from a road, sitting all by itself. 


We went through Fredericksburg, where I’d arrived the previous evening, and continued on.  was picturesque, with fishermen out on the water. It looked hot, even through the smoked-glass train window. I took a picture to my right as we crossed picturesque Aquia Creek, where it was already looking like a hot day through the train’s smoked-glass windows. If I could have seen far enough to my left up the creek, I’d have spied the site of Hope Plantation, bought c. 1663 by my ninth great-grandfather Daniel Mathena after he emigrated from England (and then was exiled from Maryland.) 


The train also rolled by Quantico, where you get a good view of MCAF Quantico. (I always look to see if I can spot a Marine One helicopter or one of their Ospreys, but have never had success yet.) Nor did I spot Priyanka Chopra.