Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What I Learned on our Train Trip to Boston and Back Again

Our really marvelous bedroom compartment--the type that we had all the way back across the country.
It cost more than the smaller roomettes we had on the way to Boston,
but it was roomy and private, and we really loved it. 

1. Always wear your glasses when visiting the little bathroom down at the end of the train car for the first time. If you don't, as I didn't, you will see several buttons to push, each with a little blurry sign next to it. I pushed the first and largest black one, expecting to hear the toilet flush. Nothing happened right away, so I poked at a few other buttons, one of which just happened to be red.

When I emerged victorious from the tiny cubicle, I almost ran over Rene, our kind and most solicitous car attendant, who politely inquired if he could be of service. I thought--oh, my, this traveling first class business is really something else--you get such wonderful service (while wondering how on earth he might assist me with the business at hand).

It was only on my second visit to the necessary room--this time wearing my glasses--that I could read the sign next to that little red button, which said, Press for emergency assistance.

Ah, well, I can only assume that Rene, used as he is to older, near-sighted passengers, has run into this situation many times before, which would explain his air of calmness and general lack of anxiety.

The first train: Cameras were at the ready!

2. This riding on the train is a special experience. We discovered through chats with our table mates in the dining car, people were on the train for a variety of reasons--because they could no longer stand the indignities of post 9/11 air travel, because they wanted to see where they were going, or because they just wanted to experience the nostalgia of old-fashioned rail travel.

We were trying hard to act like grown-ups, but were so excited when our train arrived in Albuquerque and we were to board for the first leg of our journey. But then I saw that others around us were a bit giddy, too, when I observed the cameras coming out to document both the train and the travelers. That somehow made the fact that we were so thrilled okay, and we all gaily took pictures of every part of this wonderful travel experience.

3. Now that we have traveled by train, we have somehow become true Travelers. Going places by plane never had this effect on either of us, but now we want to experience travel throughout the world, mile by mile. Maybe we'll try freighters or the Queen Mary to get ourselves across the ocean; once there, we might try trains and canal boats to travel through England, Italy, and France--and maybe we'll even go to China or to Russia. That's as far as we've gotten with our plans and fantasies, but henceforth we will consider ourselves Travelers, with a capital T.


Jean (aka Auntie Bucksnort) said...

Thank you for sharing the experience with all of us!

Margie's Musings said...

What a fun experience!

the7msn said...

It's never to late to see Europe with only a backpack and Eur-rail pass.

Aimee said...

Sounds fun and adventurous.

JC said...

I think it's cool that you did this. I used to go to Portland each year .. four hours away .. with my Mom to go shopping. My D has taken the train all over India. Not the same experience though I'm sure.

matron said...

MY hubby has been reading you travel blogs and just loves the sleeper train,it is something he has always wanted to do.Our fantasy is a trip on the Orient Express.

If your fantasy of traveling to Europe ever comes true,you must add Ireland to your adventure,after all we are your nearest neighbor and we would love to meet you.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Hey fellow Travelers! I love this post. Most of your list of further Travel methods are on our bucket list. I'm ready, let's go ;>)

Morning Bray Farm said...

I'm laughing about Rene, Clair. How funny. :D I think I'll always be nostalgic over train travel.

My very first memory (at the age of 2 1/2 years) is going to Union Station in DC with my daddy to pick up my grandma when my brother was born. What a grand old beautiful place!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Brilliant!! I love this post. Traveling SHOULD be enchanting and mysterious and magical, don't you agree?

When I first began working for the airlines over 20 years ago, flying was actually fun! Flying in first class was a thrill that involved wine tastings, real china, crisp white linens, and a hot towel service.

Post 9/11 flying is more akin to a cattle call, including frisking and suspicion.

Hubby still works for the airlines now, even though I have "retired" from the business. So we do have free flying benefits, but we rarely use them, preferring to drive instead.

You are inspiring me to take my kids on a train trip in the future. Oh! What a fun, memory filled trip we will have!

Thanks for sharing your train journey,


charlotte g said...

I know I can get to Oregon via Amtrak, but I here there are irregular schedules because the freight has precedence. You don't mention that. Was it a problem? (With both knees replaced, I am aware I go in the "potential terrorist: line to fly.)

clairz said...

Charlotte, you are right--one of the reasons passenger train travel can be delayed is that some of the rails belong to the freight train companies and thus they have precedence over passenger trains. We spent some time waiting on sidings for a freight train to come through, but never too long and those delays are built into the schedule.

We arrived in Boston three hours behind schedule, but this was because we were traveling on the first day the rails were reopened after Hurricane Irene and there were places where the train had to go slower than normal. However, on the way back from Boston to Chicago and then to Albuquerque we were exactly on time.

becky said...

Your last accommodations look glamorous! So funny that you hit the emergency button :)