Train trip home

by grace on November 12, 2019

The train arrived at the station right on time on Sunday morning, Sept. 22nd, and left promptly at 9:50.

Here’s a picture of the river as we left the station.

I didn’t take any more pictures most of the trip home. It was a fine trip, and we met some more interesting people. Here’s the only picture i took – these are the two nice guys in the roomette across from us – i can’t remember their names, and i’m not even sure we found that out? they napped quite a bit.

After we’d been going for a couple of hours, we were sitting at lunch, and the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere. They announced that we had engine problems. Oh boy. they kept making different announcements about what was going to happen; at some point i recall they said that one of the two engines was bad so we were going to go to the next town and swap it out? I think that’s what they said. I just know that we sat around on the stopped train for about three hours or so.

But it wasn’t bad – I like being on a train, it’s all good in my opinion. I think they did swap out the bad engine for a freight engine which doesn’t go as fast as a regular engine, so we were really really delayed.

Our sleeping car attendant was a woman exactly my age named Stephanie. On our other train trips the attendants were fine; i don’t remember anything about the guy on the trip out to Glacier except that he didn’t seem too keen about his job, but he did a perfectly ok job.

But Stephanie, oh my, Stephanie – she had stuff taped up on the wall, things like a menu and some kind of decorations, and she had lights all around her beverage station. the beverage station in the car is the place where you can get coffee and water and juice in the morning. She also had books you could borrow, and she had some kind of contest – she had people think of the most songs about trains that they could, and the winner got…a t-shirt? i wish i could remember more. I know that everybody who participated (and luckily kevin had entered) got a nice little cup full of candy.

Stephanie was short and cheery and just a little bit crazy. It turns out that her mom grew up in Springfield, not that far from where my mom grew up. I immediately called mom and asked her, but she didn’t know Stephanie’s mom, who is the same age as mom but she’s not doing well, about to go into a nursing home?

I don’t think the sleeping attendant has much of a chance to sleep on the trip; we were scheduled to get into Chicago at 3:55 p.m. on Monday afternoon. But because we’d sat around not going anywhere for such a long time we were very very late, and because she hadn’t slept much, Stephanie started getting kind of punchy. she kept wandering up and down the car muttering, “I have to make up 20 beds, I have to make up 20 beds,” because she had to make all the beds and take down all her stuff before the train started up again with another attendant.

We offered to help her make up the beds, but then she said she liked doing it after everybody was off the train, so she could relax and listen to tunes as she did her stuff. She sang a little bit of some Barbra Streisand songs; her favorite movie is “On a Clear Day,” starring Babs, and she started singing the title song. The thing is, my mom starred in that play here at our local Muni when i was a kid and i knew the song, too, so we sang together. Then one of the guys across the way found the song on his phone and we watched it with glee.

Stephanie also told us she’d done a series of podcasts about her experiences on Amtrak called Stephanie’s Train Travels. And that’s why it’s taken me so long to write this last post; i wanted to wait and listen to one before writing. Today I listened to two of them, and they’re terrific! She did 13 in all, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of her stories. I highly encourage you to listen. they’re about 30 minutes apiece.

So anyway – we were going to take the 7:00 P.M. train from Chicago to Springfield on Monday night, but of course we didn’t make that connection.

When we finally got off the train at Union Station we felt crazed from being on the train for so long. About forty of us had missed connections, but the people at Union Station were ready for us. we were told to go to the Amtrak counter, where they would give us hotel vouchers and new tickets for tuesday.

Because i am me, we were first in line for the vouchers. We were all then escorted outside to a waiting coach; it was like a really big fancy van. They shuttled us all the way out to a far suburb 30 miles away, and on the way to the Holiday Inn i looked it up on trip advisor and of course it had wretched reviews.

When we got there, at around 11:00 at night, the place seemed fine – but the two women at the front desk said they had no idea were were all coming. Uh oh. They kept saying stuff like “i don’t know if we have enough rooms,” which seemed a little odd because it was a huge hotel out in the middle of nowhere and i couldn’t imagine they were going to suddenly get an influx of guests.

I called the Union Station Amtrak number on the voucher and the Amtrak guy on the phone said that of course they’d set it up, and then he called the hotel and there was lots of back and forth as the hotel people waited for an Amtrak credit card number and all kinds of nonsense like that.

Meanwhile, the natives were getting restless. We were, of course, the first people in line at the hotel, but some of those in line were older folks who had been traveling on long tours and they started getting irritated. Eventually a handful of them ended up going to the front of the line and saying they’d pay for their rooms.

this seemed a little bit silly to me, but these folks seemed like they were entitled and didn’t care about forking over their own money for rooms.

and like i said, we were all a little bit crazed and overly-tired.

But by midnight kevin and i were in our very nice room, whew! You can’t always believe what they write on TripAdvisor.

the shuttle was going to pick us up at 9:30…no free breakfast at the hotel, but we got twenty bucks of fruit and toast to go.

we boarded our bus and got back to Union Station and here’s a short video of the nice new Metropolitan Lounge. The train was on time, the ride home was uneventful, and we were back to our kitties, just one day late!

gee, i can’t believe i’ve come to the end of the photos and videos.

ok then,

the end (of this adventure),

grace hughes

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: