Friday, October 23, 2015

Train Travel--Only for Rugged Souls(?)

Tom wants to take another train trip. Me? Eh. It's out of my system, you know, like living on a farm. Been there, done that, let's move on to something new.

You must be made of rugged stuff to enjoy train travel. You can't mind the constant shifting of the floor and having to struggle down 4 or 6 long hallways, bouncing off holding onto walls, windows, doorways (or whatever) just to eat breakfast. It can't bother you to share your table and keep the conversation going every single meal, three times a day, with strangers.

In a roomette, if yours is the top bunk, you can't be too scared to climb up there (my high school gymnastics training came in handy) nor can you worry about being jolted off to the floor. Your spouse must be agreeable to leaving the door open constantly if you are claustrophobic and oh dear--when you travel through that eternal 6-mile long black-as-pitch tunnel, shut your eyes and hold a tissue over your nose. They help regarding the closed-in feeling and diesel fumes. 

You have to forgive yourself and your body for taking-up half of the tiny public restrooms (darn that huge mirror in there). If you can't time a shower during a smoke stop, you must be willing to risk your life taking one while the train's rocking down the tracks.

You sit down a lot, stare out windows a lot and man, the U.S. sure has lots of empty fields out there.

And those layovers in train stations! After awhile they feel like purgatory and you wonder if you'll ever get out.  That is, if, like us, you fail to make sightseeing plans ahead of time and hesitate to venture forth lest you become forever lost. In Chicago and Los Angeles you get special treatment if you're sleeping car passengers--a separate lounge with Wifi, deep, cushy chairs, free soda, juice and snacks, large screen tv's, etc. Travel by coach and you're herded into a smudgy-white room with broken floor tiles and some metal folding chairs thrown around.

Heh. Well, in comparison, it is kinda like that.

Okay, now I'm getting silly and seriously, I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from taking a train vacation. I just recommend being prepared and, ahead of time, shaking the won't-it-be-dreamy? dust from your eyes. 

You'll have better times if you know the facts before stepping aboard your rocking-good journey.  :)

This is the bulk of roomettes. The upper bunk slants upward during the day and is let down at night by attendants.


One good thing? Ol' Debra may not travel well, but she discovered that God and Grace do. Whew.

"And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."   ...Matthew 28:20

   An Amtrak dining car. When you stay in a sleeper room, your meals are included in the price.


And now I'll leave you some more blurry photos taken from sometimes-speeding, sometimes barely-crawling trains.

                      California may be dry, but it's still beautiful.

                               Nearing our eternal wait in Seattle.

          Montana took forever to cross, but much of it was gorgeous.

                                               More Montana.

                             Much of North Dakota looked like this.

                                        And (yawn) like this.

Oh! And besides all the pretty farms in Wisconsin, my favorite thing was Lake Pepin. You know, from the Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Little House in the Big Woods. Happy sigh.

This was from St. Paul, MN, yet many train stations sat in areas like this with ancient brick buildings and faded advertising.


Attention Back to the Future fans! This was funny, though bittersweet. (I think you'll see what I mean.)



Judy said...

My big plans for travel include a one day trip to Chicago. I believe it is much quicker to drive it from here, but one doesn't have to concern oneself with traffic or parking.

I don't think a longer trip would agree with me. I'm delicate that way (or whiny, however you want to look at it).

LOVE your pictures!

Patricia Trent said...

Love your honesty! I seriously don't think I could be confined for a long trip my body is past the "just adjust" stage! I have enjoyed your sharing the good, bad and ugly!

Pam said...

I'll second what Patricia's comments. It's possible that my window of opportunity for extensive train travel has passed. I'm still open to shorter train trips, though. My husband and I have gotten very honest about what we can and cannot endure. We still have plans to travel, but we'll drive our vehicles or take short flights. The other promise we made to each other was not to drive more than 8 hrs per day, unless we're in an emergency situation. We used to drive 14 hours, straight, to visit family. Now that we're older, we're getting wiser and more honest about our limits. Deb, thanks very much for sharing with us!

Debra said...

Judy--Oh Chicago! Tom and I absolutely loved twice sitting beside the canal outside of the train station with all the skyscrapers, people and that wind. One of our favorite things about our trip. So glad you liked my photos!

Pat--thanks! And maybe when I describe the larger bedrooms on the train, you'll be more encouraged. Lots of folks in their 60's and 70's had those and told us they were comfortable, or more so, anyway.

Pam--thank-you! I do hope you can do a shorter train trip someday. They really are memorable. Tom and I have both come to prefer those over driving. Tom did a fair share of driving on this trip on the crazy, eternal road(s) up to my mom's house and he was sooo happy to let someone else do the driving on the train!

Thanks, Ladies! Blessings, Debra