New York City Protest March 

I went to college in the early 1970's, back in the days of anti-war protests against Nixon and the Vietnam War. The most memorable protests happened in the late 1960's, which was a little before my time. To tell the truth, I don't remember any anti-war protests during my time in engineering school at NYU. So I have the dubious distinction of never having been in a protest march, despite going to college in New York City in the 1970's.

Now, over 30 years later, I have a second chance to march in the streets and make my voice heard. In mid-August, 2004, I read about a planned protest march in New York that would take place just before the Republican National Convention. The organizers were hoping for a huge turnout to send a loud message to George Bush and the Republicans: "you guys screwed-up big-time and you're fired!" Although the message would be strident, the march was promoted to be peaceful, legal, and carefully planned.

The idea had an immediate appeal, to add my voice to thousands of other voices protesting the failed Bush policies. Finally there was some way to express my frustration and dismay over the dismal performance of our national leaders during the past four years. I put the protest march on my calendar for Sunday, August 29, 2004.

Planning My Trip

The march organizers had a comprehensive web site that included transportation details. Forget about driving your car into New York City—nobody in their right mind does that, especially under these circumstances. The web site indicated that bus rides were available, but the rides left from Washington, D.C. and the details were vague. Instead, I decided to ride the train from Baltimore to New York. Although I have been on a few trains (like the Long Island Railroad and various subway systems), I had never been on an Amtrak train, and I was curious about the service. I visited the Amtrak web site and easily browsed schedules and determined fares. I made my reservations online, although I would need to pick up printed tickets at the train station.

The marchers were instructed to assemble starting at 10:00 a.m. for a 12:00 noon kickoff, so I decided to take train #54 which arrives in New York at 10:43 a.m. The train leaves Baltimore at 8:10 a.m., so I would have to get up extra early that day (by habit, I am not a "morning person"). The march was supposed to end by 3:00 p.m., but I planned to spend a few more hours in the city. I decided to return on train #159 which leaves the city at 6:55 p.m. and arrives in Baltimore at 9:30 p.m. The round-trip fare was $153.00, which I thought was a little pricey. For local transportation in Baltimore, I decided to take a cab to and from Baltimore's Penn Station train terminal. In New York, of course I would ride the subway, just like millions of other New Yorkers.

The night before I left, I packed up a few things in a small tote bag, including a water bottle, my small point-and-shoot camera, five rolls of film, and a notepad with pen and pencil. The morning of the trip, I picked up a Sunday paper for reading material, and I also remembered to bring sunglasses, a hat, and my cell phone.

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