Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our first day on the train

After spending our first night-time hours on the train not sleeping (except for brief minutes of dozing), I finally saw the dawn shedding some light on the world moving past our windows.  Now I could see signs telling me what towns we were passing through, and at 6:30, when they announced that breakfast was ready, loudspeakers that had been silent all night came to life.  From this point on, announcements were made telling us what stop was next, whether it would be a long enough stop for smokers to de-train and have a few puffs, and so forth.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a fresh pot of coffee in our sleeper car!  It was surprisingly good coffee, too.  In fact, this trip was a treasure as far as coffee goes, because the two hotels in which we stayed were equipped with Keurig coffee makers in every room.  For an addict like me, that made up for other inconveniences such as lost luggage and a sleepless night on the train.

Breakfast wasn't a gourmet delight, but there were many choices offered, and considering the conditions under which the cooks and waiters work, it was wonderful, much better than what you find in motels that offer breakfast.  The other meals were great, and since our meals were paid for, we could choose anything on the menu.  The steak was very good.  Twice I opted for a nice big salad with chicken strips for lunch.

After finding the coffee that first morning, I returned to our roomette and told Cliff he might as well climb down and play footsie with me on the lower bunk.
  No, he didn't go to sleep.  He was only trying to get comfortable.  

He looks sleepy, doesn't he?  After breakfast we tried reading on our Kindles, but neither of us could concentrate very well.  As you can see, I was taking notes to help me with blog entries when I got back home.  Unfortunately, the notes ended up in the lost luggage, so I'm having to rely on memory.  There was a friendly man we saw often in our car who must have been a train attendant.  He never really told us what his duties were, but he said he was training the lady on our sleeper car who was an attendant.  He seemed to enjoy his job immensely.  At one point, he was paged on the P.A. system:  "Crazy Tom, please report to the dining car."  It was he who came around to see what times we wanted to eat our next meals as we headed west.  We would choose a time, he'd hand us a piece of paper with the time written on it so we wouldn't forget. 

Time sort of drags when you're riding a train for twenty-four hours one way, so we really looked forward to meals to break the monotony.  There is an observation car where anyone can sit, so we went up there a few times; but it was often filled to capacity.

That's Crazy Tom, explaining to Cliff how something works (because my husband ALWAYS wants to know how stuff works).  We learned to get off the train every chance we got... another way to break up the day and stretch our legs.  

We saw the verdant plains change to dessert-like conditions with snowcapped peaks in the distance.

We saw hills rising out of flatlands.  Crazy Tom told stories about civil war battles and Indians, over the P.A. system.

We saw towns we didn't know existed.  Who knew there was another Las Vegas?  

Sometimes depots are in tiny towns that are hardly towns at all.

Now there's a town we've heard of!  I think Bugs Bunny used to say something about taking a left turn in Albuquerque.

When we went through Garden City, Kansas, I thought about two Facebook friends I've never met face-to-face who live there, and left a Facebook "hello" to one of them, Char.

This shows all the stops made by the Southwest Chief.  We boarded in Kansas City and got off at Williams Junction.  We met a lot of people who were headed from one coast to the other, which would probably take the better part of three days... maybe longer.  Click HERE for all the details on the Southwest Route.  

To be continued...


Rita said...

What a great adventure! I have taken the train twice, once from NYC to somewhere in Indiana, the other time from Williston, ND to Wahpeton, ND.

I have traveled from Denver to Santa Fe a few times in the last 10 years. Santa Fe is a common getaway for people who live within driving distance of Santa Fe. Las Vegas, NM is on the highway in between. It is a common place to stop, gas up, eat, or to stretch your legs.

Hopefully you have gotten some good sleep since your first night on the train. Of course, you could be home now, too!

Jackie said...

Oh, how I love reading your stories! Why have you not written a book? You know how to tell a story and make the reader feel as if they were right there with you! Looking forward to reading more about this adventure!

Calfkeeper said...

Thank you for the great train/trip stories. I am making mental notes for myself in case Gary ever gets a wild hare to take a train ride somewhere after he retires. I am enjoying your narrative. R

Rose said...

How exciting now I want to do go

Rose said...

How exciting now I want to do go

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Okay, I think you've changed my negative mind about train travel. This post made it sound extremely pleasant - - and so many stops! I've been to Las Vegas, NM (believe it or not). When I was a small child, Albuquerque was almost unheard of - and now it's a big mess of a city.

You've made me nostalgic for the west, Donna. My parents used to travel a lot and I'm familiar with these places.

Has your luggage been returned yet - - or did they lose it again??

Back Porch Writer said...

Love hearing about the trip!

Back Porch Writer said...

Hope the luggage arrives soon.


Looks like the adventure of a lifetime. Though the sleeping accomondations look a bit cramped. GREAT pityures documenting the journey.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It all sounds wonderful. A trip of a lifetime to be remembered always !

Margaret said...

In spite of the inconveniences, much easier than trying to drive it. Going by plane is quicker, but you don't see much. So, the train is a great choice. Would you do it again?

Donna Wood said...

Cliff won't fly, so that's always out of the question for him. I'd go on the train again in a heartbeat, but it's pretty expensive. Cliff did say that riding the train was much better than having to drive that far. This was such a totally new experience for both of us that it was worth the expense, just once.