Are We There Yet?
Each phase of the trip has its distinct architecture, economy, vegetation. Some areas are lushly overgrown (or starkly beautiful in winter white). Some are very urban. You pass the backs of apartment complexes; you rumble across rivers and streams. There's at least one major urban stop along the way (White Plains), and a university (Fordham). This is a distinctive store in the Bronx, which I used to see every day from my train window.
It's fun to pick out detail in what you pass, to try to guess what people's lives are like by the swingset in the back yard. Poorer communities have utility ladders hanging down toward the tracks; the richer folk have jogging trails along the rivers.
Just north of White Plains is a workyard filled with extra rails and tools and the machinery that keeps the Metro North Railroad going. My favorite detail, for no particular reason, is a small sign:
You have to watch quick as you go by, or you miss things.
As you move on north, you hit a few vast cemeteries, which always intrigue me. Some have chapels visible from the tracks; some have lakes, where swans gather in the fall. If you miss the "early" train (really the last of the three trains that get met at the station by a company shuttle to take you to the office), you get the train I always called the funeral train, which makes a special stop at a tiny platform adjacent to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
That's all the pictures for now. After that, you're at the Pleasantville work farm itself, where you find some of my favorite usual suspects: