Friday, May 22, 2009

An Experience On Amtrack

A view of our dining car after lunch and before supper.
Where we sat for breakfast.
Watch your step!! One of the 2 sliding door that you went through to cross over the juncture of the two cars, it was creep.
Dad trying to walk on the moving train between our car and the dining car, down a very narrow pathway.
The same narrow path, between the outside wall of the train and the upgraded sleeper suites.
Narrow walkway to sliding door to adjoining car.
Country side in New Mexico.
Dad looking at the map, trying to figure out where we are.
Off for a break at Albuquerque, NM, the locals had set up tables to sell jewelry and crafts.

Well, as most of you know, Dad wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, by train for his 80th birthday. Danny and I took it upon ourselves to arrange the trip and make all the connections happen. While I was still on sick leave, Danny took vacation time to help me make this happen, no this was not a vacation for us, this was a challenge. With a vacation, you kind of do what you want and get to relax without worries, well all I have to say is travel with your dear old dad in a 4X6 foot cubicle for 24 hours and then we will talk vacation. Okay, enough said, except I may get an extra ruby in my crown of gold in Heaven one day or maybe an extra marshmallow to roast with Lucifer. We left Kansas City's beautiful union station last Thursday evening at about 10 pm, we boarded the train and was slightly shocked at the size of our sleeper berths, I am serious as a fish when I tell you it was 4 foot deep by 6 feet long. We quickly threw our bags on the lower berth and sat down until the train got started. I got the top berth that folded down, it measured about 3X6, with a small cargo net to help keep you from falling off of it. Luckily we were close to the bathroom, or should I say water closet, but it was about, well, lot's smaller than a closet, you could pee and brush your teeth at the same time. It was a fit full night, once we slid our door closed and locked it, it became a very warm and close place, which causes me a slight anxiety of thinking I am in a coffin. I slept about 4 hours, mostly after about 4 am when it suddenly became cooler, who knows. The train was about 1/2 full, so we really had no one else on our car except the porter and another couple towards the end. Our porter Simon was great and got us extra bottles of water and even canned soda for free. We got up for breakfast at around 8:00 and went to the dining car, because we had purchased the roomette option, we got our meals included in the dining car, which was kinda cool, we had a nice breakfast with a couple traveling with a senior travel group who was headed for the Grand Canyon also, Larry and Wink (his wife) were a very sweet couple who we were lucky enough to also have supper with. The meals were top notch, plenty to eat including dessert. The rest of the time we spent either in the observation car, which has a domed glass ceiling or in our little cubicle with the seats in place, I read and dad looked at scenery, New Mexico is all dry, hot, sandy, scrubby, with lots of old junk cars and trailers. WE did see some pretty mesa's, in red and orange, Albuquerque was one of the stops we got to get off the train for a bit, dad declined,but I got to check out the vender's from the local reservations, with jewelry and crafts. The only thing I bought was a a plastic horse with saddle for the boys, along with a diet coke and popcorn from the depot. Towards the end of our 24 hour trip we were bought ready to get off, enough already, our skinny butts hurt and our legs were cramped, we were tired of being bumped and jostled for hours, but he got his train ride and I am thankful for it. We left the train in Flagstaff, AZ with lots of other folks at about 9 pm, thankfully it was a very renovated area, fresh and lively with lots of lights and activity, we caught a cab to our hotel and was sooooo ready to lay our weary heads on a nice soft pillow, in the mean time, Danny and Pete had caught a plane in Springfield and were flying towards us, to land at Phoenix, get the rental car and drive to Flagstaff that night, I slept off and on until I heard from them, because of plane delays, they didn't arrive at our room until about 3am, both worn to a frazzle. We all slept well and woke up to a nice Holiday Inn Express breakfast, which is really good!! Biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, fruit, cereal, muffins, juice and coffee, I highly recommend it, this was a fantastic hotel, on Lucky Lane in Flagstaff, free bottles of water and chips were waiting for us in room, free of charge, nice pillows and linens. We got ready to meet up with my niece Stephanie, her husband James, little one, Kayley and my sister-in-law, Rhonda for a fun trip north to the Grand Canyon. Okay, stay tuned for the next blog about the Grand Canyon adventure with the Hillbillies from Missouri. Love you all!!!

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