As Leland College is ficticious, there is no real way to place it. But it may be located 50 miles east of Columbus. Columbus to Lancaster is 400 miles; Leland to Lancaster is 350 miles.
Ellen leaves for Lancaster on a train evidently local to Columbus. The Columbus train station was torn down in 1979, six years before the episode aired. The nearest operating train station is Cincinnati, 100 miles away.
Alex: Yeah, I love you, okay? I-I-I said it. I mean, after all, Ellen, If I'm going to go this far, I might as well go all the way. I love you, all right? I love you, I love you, I love you! I'm crazy about you. I'd give anything to be with you. I can't live without you, okay? Gotta go, see ya.
The scenes from this episode where Alex looks in the mirror and where Alex was actually telling Ellen he loved her appeared on an episode of Muppet Babies called "This Little Piggy Went to Hollywood." The scene where Alex talked to Ellen was set up so it seemed as if Michael J. Fox were talking to Baby Piggy in the nursery closet.
Michael Gross does not appear in this episode.
The Volvo Alex drives has a standard transmission. You can tell by hearing the whine of the straight spur gear when he is driving in reverse. Straight spur gears are in standard (manual) transmissions.
This episode features the song "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters. The song was originally released in 1981, but never appeared in the Top 40. Its use by Family Ties propelled it to a Number 1 song six years after its release.