Friday, May 27, 2016

Our Amtrak experience: Getting ready

When I first started checking out the idea of traveling to the Grand Canyon by rail, I thought I'd keep it as cheap as possible by getting coach seats and hoping we could sleep a little sitting up as we traveled.  Twenty-four hours sitting up seemed like a long time, but we're tough, right?  Oh, and I'd take along some sandwiches and granola bars to eat, so we wouldn't have to pay for expensive meals.

Let me back up and say that this probably would all have fallen through had it not been for my friend Meesha, because I'm always "planning" some vacation or other that never happens.  I mentioned my potential travel plans on Facebook; Meesha, who travels Amtrak a lot, knows the ropes.  He suggested I buy tickets for the roomette rather than coach so we could lie down to sleep.  With that option, all meals are paid for, too.  I went to the Amtrak website to check prices.  Wow, the roomettes cost a lot more than coach.  But this was to celebrate our 50th anniversary, which is coming up on Flag Day.  Maybe we should splurge for once?

I was afraid I wouldn't get connections right for our projected Grand Canyon visit, so I ended up calling a travel agency linked on the Amtrak site.  When she put together the total cost, I was floored, and told her I'd call back.  This was, I think, in February.  After considering the whole thing for a few days, and with Cliff telling me, "If there's something you want to do, we had better be doing it now," I called the lady again.  I found out if I put it on my credit card, they would only take a small amount out at first and take the rest of the payment from the card after three months' time.  I realized that in that length of time, I could easily save the amount the trip would cost and pay the credit card off as soon as they took the money out.  At that point, I was in.  If Meesha had not suggested the roomette, I would never have gotten that far and committed myself to the trip.  Thanks, Meesha!  

Once the deal was made, I did a lot in searching on the Internet, starting with the Amtrak site.  Click HERE to read about roomette accommodations, and HERE to see pictures on the Amtrak blog (it says you have your own toilet... we did not.)  Toward the bottom of the page you will see "virtual sleeping car"; click on "Superliner Roomette 3D Tour".  Now, looking at this, you can tell it's a small space.  Amtrak gives you the dimensions of the room.  But nothing really prepares you for how small it is.  When the seats were set up for daytime travel, Cliff and I had to work at finding enough floor space for our big feet, but we did finally get it figured out.   

About a month before our trip was to happen, I received the vouchers for the trip in email and printed them off.  This included train tickets, hotel stays for three nights, and meals that were included.  Wow, it was really going to happen!

At this point I began worrying whether Amtrak would actually accept some ticket printed off at home.  Also, we were going to have to leave our car in the parking lot for five days, and we weren't even sure where the parking lot was, so we would head to Kansas City, talk to the Amtrak folks at the ticket window, and find the parking lot.  You can read about that HERE.  

So, ready or not, we left home around 8:30 P.M. on Friday, May 20, to begin our train-travel adventure at Kansas City's Union Station.

To be continued...


DesLily said...

it's as much fun to remember the trip as it was planning it!

krueth said...

Sometimes you just have to have faith that it will all work out and jump in with both feet. Look at the wonderful time you both had. :-) Wendy

Jackie said...

I love reading your journal entries~ Feels like old times in Jland! Looking forward to the next Train Chapter! :)


Vacations are about putting yourself out there and see what happens. It was an adventure even with compromise.