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Thanksgiving travelers take to the roads, rails through Harford County Wednesday

Holiday traveler Kathleen Kearney, of New York City, smiles Wednesday as she talks about her family's Thanksgiving traditions. Kearney traveled by Amtrak from New York to Aberdeen, and she will spend the holiday with family in Bel Air.
Holiday traveler Kathleen Kearney, of New York City, smiles Wednesday as she talks about her family's Thanksgiving traditions. Kearney traveled by Amtrak from New York to Aberdeen, and she will spend the holiday with family in Bel Air. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

An Amtrak passenger train heading south on the rail service's Northeast Corridor line pulled into the West Bel Air Avenue station in Aberdeen at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, and a handful of passengers stepped off, on their way to see family and friends for Thanksgiving.

Gunbir Singh, 18, who traveled from New Brunswick, N.J., was among the passengers. An international student from India who attends Rutgers University, Singh was visiting his brother and other family members in Aberdeen for Thanksgiving.

This year is the second he has spent the holiday with his Aberdeen relatives, Singh said.

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While millions of motorists were out on the highways through Maryland and other states Wednesday morning, some holiday travelers like Singh opted for the speed and comfort of the train.

"It's a comfy ride," he said of the trip, which took about an hour and a half.

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"Amtrak is fast; the other way, it takes around three hours in traffic," he said of traveling to Aberdeen by car.

Kathleen Kearney, who traveled from Penn Station in New York City, waited for a taxi to take her to her oldest sister's home in Bel Air.

The Manhattan resident called the train ride "very convenient," and that it took about two-and-a-half to three hours to go from Penn Station to Aberdeen.

She rode in a designated "quiet car."

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"There's no noise, so it's very calm, pleasant," she said.

The weather Wednesday morning was sunny, but cold, and the Amtrak travelers at Aberdeen were wearing coats, scarves and hooded sweat shirts. Kearney had a long coat and earmuffs.

"It's a pretty day, anyway, so it adds to the joy of taking the train," she said.

Kearney, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., said she will be among about 10 people for Thanksgiving at her sister's, and "everyone's coming from somewhere else."

The group will include Kearney's other sisters, nieces and nephews and friends of the family. She listed several traditions the family observes on Thanksgiving.

"We cook a big turkey," she said. "We make really good soup, and we always go for a walk when we finish dinner, and play a lot of Scrabble."

Kearney said she taught her nephew to play Scrabble, "and now he beats me every time."

She said her sister has a large kitchen, which gives all participants room to cook their parts of the Thanksgiving meal.

"The best part is the cooking," Kearney said. "We all cook together and sit around the table and share our stories, it's very pleasant."

She said she enjoys hearing about how each family member is doing.

Kearney said one sister is a professor at Ohio State University, and another is a graduate of the University of Michigan, so it will be "quite a game" when the two teams play each other in their heated football rivalry Saturday.

Kearney will be neutral, however, as she does not have a stake in either school.

"I'm going to be like Switzerland," she joked.

Vehicletraffic heading south on I-95 around Aberdeen was steady but not too heavy late Wednesday morning. A stream of travelers visited the Maryland House Travel Plaza off I-95 just south of Aberdeen to patronize the food court and shops and use the restrooms.

"We expect more than 2.7 million motorists this week on Maryland's toll highways, bridges and tunnels, with more than half of those motorists on the I-95 corridor alone," Milt Chaffee, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority, said in a statement.

Veronica Taylor, of Philadelphia, stopped at the Maryland House with her daughter, mother, sister and aunt on their way to North Carolina.

"Just a little bit, not too bad," she replied when asked about any heavy traffic.

She said the family left Philadelphia around 8:30 a.m. and at the Maryland House about two hours later.

Taylor said the holiday traffic is usually only bad around Washington, D.C. She said it is a tradition to stop at the Maryland House when heading to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

"I don't think it matters so much, what's in here," she said when asked what the family likes about the Maryland House. "It's always been tradition. From Philadelphia, you stop here, you stop in Maryland, next stop Virginia, next stop North Carolina."

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