Train travel is something I've always wanted to try, but there was really no place I wanted to go in a time frame that suggested taking the train. Seems we are always in a hurry to get where we're going so we take a plane, if distance is an issue, right? Generally speaking, that is. So, with Covid affecting when, where, and how we travel the past couple of years, my sister and I were limited when it became a need to see the parental units recently. Being over a thousand miles away, we weren't going to drive it, and we weren't able to find a flight that worked for our schedules and time frame, not to mention the airport is a couple of hours away from our final destination which would require renting a car, so we put on our thinking caps and began surveying our options. Traveling the rails is what it boiled down to. Take the train! And it was so.
The point of our trip was to visit our parents who had been having a few health issues. Thankfully, those issues turned out to be minor-ish and we could relax, but until you get there, you only have hearsay and phone calls to go on, right? Anyway, on with the story.
We left the house at 4:30 a.m. (yes, that would be morning time😴) and arrived at the Santa Fe Station in San Diego an hour early for our train. Now, the website tells you if you have bags to check, get there an hour early. You know, like at the airport. Well, we stand at the counter forever and a day and figure nobody is up yet (LOL) so we go sit down. As soon as we sit down, the guy goes to the window. Of course. So we go back up to the counter to check bags and there is no such service. We are told to wait for the train and take care of that later. Hmm. Ok. So the hour eventually passes and our train (a commuter train to Los Angeles) arrives. Again, no such thing as checking our bag really. No big. There is plenty of room for our bags where we are sitting until we get to L.A. when we will switch trains. Then our roomette will be available for the remainder of our trip north. We're excited!
We made it! Our teensy little room is so cute and just perfect for what we need. Of course, we had to begin the trip with tasty bevs, and we just so happened to have these strawberries in the fridge that couldn't be left behind for the whole week.
What a perfect addition to our celebratory bon voyage toast! What. Doesn't everyone pack champagne flutes and strawberries when they travel?!
It was wonderful to get underway. Let the Yahtzee tournament begin.
A view from the Coast Starlight. I grew up on Puget Sound. I love the water and I miss it so much living in the high desert of Eastern Washington. Wow, I needed this view.
The food on the train is really good. Really good. And, as you can see, there is a lot in a meal. We ended up sharing most meals as there was just so much food and we are not heavy eaters. This was the grilled cheese sandwich with coleslaw and veggie chips. Yum. It is the only food picture I took.
We enjoyed our lunch, took a nap, and played more Yahtzee. It was a beautiful day. But this is where tales from the train takes a tragic turn. Yes, our first train trip, our first day. Around 4:30 p.m. we came to an unscheduled stop in the little town of Paso Robles, California. The announcement came over the intercom that there was an injury accident on the track
(click link for story). Little did we know at that moment, how long our unscheduled stop would continue. And continue it did. The power was out off and on, mostly off, and a replacement crew had to be brought on, which was about two and a half hours out. We had dinner in the dining car, and what a strange experience that was. Dark and quiet, the only talk that was going on was between a waiter and a couple who seemed to know him, as they shared the full story of the accident. Horrific. That's all I can say about that. May she rest in peace and may her family be comforted as much as possible. We were finally under way again after about a five and a half hour delay.
So. That was our first day on the train. I must say though, when our attendant turned down the beds and we got ready for sleep, it came easily. We were both awoken multiple times during the night by sounds unfamiliar to us, but we both wake during the night even at home, so it wasn't an awful sleep or anything. In fact, the rocking of the train really was rather soothing. Except for that one small stretch where it felt like I was sleeping on that one wheel of the shopping cart that goes flat. (ker-CHUNK ker-CHUNK ker-CHUNK). 😂
Our second day on the train was so lovely. Until..... the announcement came over the intercom, "The train Gods hate us." About two miles ahead of us was a derailed train - multiple cars off the tracks! Of course, that had to be cleared up before we could continue. By this time, our second crew had maxed out their hourly limit and had to be replaced. Luckily, the next crew wasn't as far out as the first crew.
We continued our Yahtzee tournament as the day progressed. And believe it or not, as soon as we went through the tunnel, we BOTH rolled Yahtzees!! Isn't that crazy!? I even took a picture to prove it. HAHAHAHA!!!
On we go after a couple of hours delay. Glad to be chugging along again. Until.....the poor Conductor again came over the intercom with another announcement. A freight train ahead of us was broken down and needed to be repaired before it could move any further down the track. The same track we were on. Holy Moses. What the heck....our THIRD delay! And again, because of time limits and shift constraints, we needed a THIRD crew change. Mind you, this was all before we even got out of California! Thank goodness we had a roomette so we were able to play Yahtzee and nap and whatever, just a few doors down from the bathroom, so really, it could have been so much worse as far as comfort goes.
The remainder of the train trip was great, and we finally pulled into the train station in Tacoma, Washington, TEN HOURS BEHIND SCHEDULE.
We had an awesome visit with fam. Parents are doing good other than the likely upcoming surgery for dad's hand (which, at this point, we believe to be carpal tunnel or some variation) and we were glad to learn there are friends/neighbors close enough who look in on them occasionally, which made it so much easier to say goodbye also.
The train trip back was completely uneventful when compared to our trip north. We were able to rest and relax, and really enjoy it all the more. Despite the events and delays of our first day, we would both happily take the train again. If you are not in a hurry and don't have a tight schedule, it is really worth the extra time if you ask me. Get a roomette if you want privacy or will be riding overnight, and you won't regret it.
The last picture I took from the train.
We will never forget our first train trip. The tragedy on our first day, the multiple delays that became almost comedic after soooooo.....many.....hours..... and the relief of seeing our parents for ourselves and knowing they are doing so much better than they were described to us was HUGE.
If I can avoid the airport, man I'll do it. What a headache. Ride the rails, that's my advice! Thanks for visiting the studio. Feel free to comment or email me. Just remember to include your own email address in your message/comment/email if you would like a reply.