A Day-trip to Detroit from New Buffalo
by Charles McKelvy
“Why in the world would you want to take the train from New Buffalo to Detroit and come back the same day? In fact, why would you want to go to Detroit in the first place? Are you nuts?”
I can hear it all now.
But I stilled that negative vibe in my head, booked a round-trip ticket on Amtrak from New Buffalo to Detroit for Wednesday, September 27, 2017, and I went and did the trip.
And, yes, I am back to tell you all about it, and, even better, I am here to tell you I had a terrific time from the moment Amtrak train 350, the Wolverine, arrived at the platform in New Buffalo at the posted 9:37 a.m. time, to the exact second train 355, the westbound Wolverine, deposited me back in New Buffalo precisely at the posted arrival time of 10:23 p.m.
I had such a good time, and the trains were on such good time, that I began lobbying Natalie to take the same trip with me in 2018.
She said, and I quote: “Let’s wait until spring when there is more daylight, so we can enjoy the ride back.”
“All right. You have a deal.”
So I waited patiently for spring to arrive and for the sun to linger longer, and then, one fine day, I said: “Let’s go on Friday, April 20. From New Buffalo to Detroit and back, with a whole afternoon to explore DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts).”
Natalie liked the idea, but went online just the same to check on Amtrak’s on-time record for that line and to see how late DIA is open on Friday.
She found that Amtrak had a reasonably good record of running its Wolverine service from Chicago to Detroit and beyond on time, and, best of all, DIA is open to 10 p.m. (EDT) on Friday.
That meant that if our morning train from New Buffalo was close to arriving on time in Detroit at 1:40 p.m., we would have plenty of time to prowl the endless galleries before catching the 6:03 p.m. train for New Buffalo.
Oh, and Natalie also thoroughly vetted Detroit’s new streetcar line, the QLINE, to be sure their service up and down Woodward Avenue was reliable. Turns out it is.
So, if you connect the dots you will note the following:
*We arrived in Detroit almost on-time at 2 p.m.,
*We quickly mastered the Motor City’s brand-spanking-new QLINE DETROIT by shelling out a mere $3 a piece for two day-passes and,
*We took said QLINE to the world-class Detroit Institute of Arts at 4200 Woodward Avenue where we spent all of $18 for two senior admissions and then proceeded to see as many of DIA’s amazing treasures as we could before skeedaddling at 5:20 in order to catch our return train at Baltimore and Woodward, and
*We hopped a northbound QLINE train at Warren and were clipping right along when it stopped and stayed stopped at the Ferry Street station for reasons unclear to the operator. We thought we were going to have to bolt off the trolley and make a run for our train back to New Buffalo, but then the good folks at QLINE got it all sorted out, and we were at Baltimore Street in plenty of time to catch the westbound Wolverine, which was running about five minutes late.
*We particularly enjoyed the return trip to New Buffalo because our smoothly gliding train seemed to be hotly pursuing the setting sun as it slipped behind trees and buildings. We enjoyed the fare served in the café car and watched as a happy mob of University of Michigan students boarded in Ann Arbor, and, in no time flat, we were back in New Buffalo and heading home to Harbert, well before the witching hour.
We spent $6 in Detroit for two QLINE day passes, and were feeling so flush we tipped the coat-check guy at DIA. Plus, he liked my hat.
Would we do it again?
In a heartbeat!
Will you read more about our other amazing adventures in Detroit?
Until then, here are a couple of numbers for you to call on your old rotary-dial phone:
*Amtrak: 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
*Detroit Institute of Arts: 313-833-7900.