Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The train trip

The train trip was very relaxing. The only activities possible were reading, stitching, sleeping, visiting, or eating, and they were all enjoyable (except for possibly the night-time sleeping).

We started traveling through Illinois, a corner of Iowa, and Missouri, green edges, and fallow fields. This was the scenery when night came.


We ate dinner on Monday, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Tuesday. The food was excellent, nothing prepackaged. They have communal seating, so they combine parties until there are 4 people at every table. That was very interesting. The people we met were all traveling on the train for different reasons, everything from not wanting to fly, to carving out a little space in a busy life, to loving trains. The dinner menu was limited, but very good. We enjoyed roasted chicken, steak, and chicken enchiladas. (The chef's name was Jeff, but we only caught a glimpse of him once in Albuquerque, when the train was stopped. He spent all his time in the galley, downstairs from the dining car.)


We definitely had "adventure sleeping." I took the top bunk, 20 inches wide. Our roomette was upstairs on the train, on the south side. We prepared for bed around 11 PM, and then the train stopped for a long time; not knowing what was going on made it difficult to fall asleep. We found out in the morning that we were ahead of schedule, and had to wait at the station until we caught up with the time-table. Once we started moving again, sleep was even more difficult. The road-bed was very uneven, and the train rocked and bounced a lot. I never felt like I was going to fall out of bed, but I was always aware of the movement.

In the morning we moved from Kansas to Colorado.

Taken from the lounge car:

The mountains were the "Sangre de Cristo" mountains, but we couldn't see them from our roomette, because they were on the north side of the train. The lounge car was not as comfortable as our seats, so we didn't stay there long. There was a snack service on the lower level of this car; sandwiches, beverages, and so on, but we did not need to avail ourselves of that service, since the dining car was so good.

Anton and Pinky:

Anton was the dining car steward, and Pinky was the steward for our car. They both took very good care of us. This crew is based in Los Angeles, and works one week on, one week off. This is a very hard job, because it goes around the clock.

The landscape continued to get more and more rugged. The highest point was in New Mexico, at the Raton pass, the highest point of the Santa Fe trail. (There was a sign, but it flashed by so quickly, I didn't get a chance to get a picture of it.)

New Mexico:

We stopped for about an hour in Albuquerque to refill water, empty out garbage, wash windows, and etc. I got a picture of the train at that point:

This was our car, but our roomette was on the other side.

Here are the engines and the baggage (and crew) car:

I am sure any train buffs in the crowd will be interested in what the engines were. We were on the SFBN road-bed.


We reached Flagstaff exactly on time (one minute to 9 PM, Mountain daylight time, which is equivalent to Pacific time). My parents had been at the station for hours already, they were so excited we were arriving. It was lovely to see them, like arriving home in a strange place, if you know what I mean.

We really enjoyed the trip, and would be willing to take it again, but would try to reserve a bedroom, instead of a roomette. The roomette was very cramped, especially when we were trying to get up in the morning. By the second day we were getting our sea legs (train legs?) and moving around was easier. The stewards were amazing; they could carry trays with beverages, and not spill a drop. The whole experience was very relaxing.

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