Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sleeping in a roomette, and our first time in the dining car

When we boarded our train, the Southwestern Chief, we were directed down the steps to our tiny room.  Our beds were ready for us.  There's no room to dress and undress in a closed cabinette, we learned, except to stretch out on your bunk and put on your jammies lying down... no room to change in the bathroom, either.  In the cabinette, there was barely room for our shoes when we removed them.  

Cliff insisted on taking the top bunk because I'm not too agile, thanks to my knees; he was afraid I'd fall in the process of getting down.  I argued with him, because the top bunk is smaller and Cliff is the larger of us, but he insisted.  As it turned out that night, neither of us slept anyway, except for brief periods of dozing.

The stretch of train track leaving Kansas City is rough!  We were rocking and rolling in our bunks as we traveled southwest through the night.  Add to that the constant tooting of the train whistle, plus our excitement and confusion at doing something totally different... it was a long night.   Neither of us are spring chickens, so of course we had to get up for the bathroom a couple of times.  As luck would have it, the bathroom was right outside our room, so it wasn't a long trip, except that Cliff had some difficulty climbing down from his bunk.  See, you can't actually sit up in the top bunk, so you must roll over and somehow slither down to the foot of the bed and cautiously place your foot on the top of two steps, then cautiously descend.

I hope this stranger doesn't mind my stealing his picture off the Internet, because it illustrates perfectly what it's like to move around in the top bunk.  Grant, whoever you are, if you happen to my blog and would rather not have your picture here, just leave a comment.

The bathrooms are tiny, but that's a good thing, because if the train rocks a little and you lose your balance, you just put out your hands and grab a wall or a sink and you can't possibly fall down because there isn't room.  Oh, let me warn you:  The first time you flush the stool, you'll think you've been shot.  The air-assist flush sounds like a gunshot!  Just look for the word "flush" and push the button beside that.  

After a long, long night that I spent mostly trying to see out the window in the dark (Cliff didn't have a window), I told Cliff to join me on the bottom bunk so he could at least see outside.  We chatted and bemoaned the lack of sleep (and my backache) until breakfast was announced.  You have to choose a time for your other meals, but breakfast is first-come, first-served.  Meals, by the way, are paid for when you have sleeping quarters on the train.

I'm inserting this as an afterthought:  Our lady train attendant (porter) put our beds down at night and put them up in the morning, but our first morning, Cliff felt funny about pushing the button to call her, so he figured out himself how to fold the beds out of the way.   

Now, three-fourths of the seats may be unoccupied when you enter the dining car, but you can't just choose a seat:  The waiter will lead you to a table and seat you across from two strangers who may or may not be traveling together.  If you are a died-in-the-wool introvert, the only way out of this is to have your meals in your roomette.  Trust me, you'd have to be more committed to your solitary nature than I, because by the time you've spent several hours in that tiny space (even with the best of companions), you want out of there for awhile.  So I met many, many people on our trip.  Here are the first folks we dined with, from California (I asked their permission to take this picture).

To be continued...


Rose said...

I would be too excited to sleep too

Rose said...

I would be too excited to sleep too

Back Porch Writer said...

Interesting to me. I've been on lots of trains but never slept on one. Laughing about no room to fall over in the bathroom.

Jackie said...

So....from the sound of it, the train doesn't seem like a very comfortable means of transportation, at least not for us seniors. Sounds very cramped, which I've heard others say as well. My question to you is....would you do it again?

Donna Wood said...

Jackie, I would do it again next week if I could afford it. On the way home (I'll get to that eventually), we both slept like babies.

Melissa Wiggins said...

Oh, my -- I'm so glad you posted this. I had always thought we would enjoy a train trip -- and now I'm absolutely certain we are NOT physically cut out for it and we couldn't afford bigger sleeping quarters (if there are such things -- there used to be bedrooms). I loved loved loved train travel as a kid but this just wouldn't do at all.

Jon said...

A fascinating account - - but I'm afraid I wouldn't last two minutes on a train. I'd never be able to fit in those bunks...and with my tricky back, they'd have to use the Jaws of Life to extract me.

I'd never want to undress for the night - because I'd be afraid that the train might crash. I always want to look my best when I'm screaming in pain on the Local News.

Close proximity with strangers would annoy the hell out of me - especially if I had to eat in front of them. I don't want anyone watching me while I slurp oatmeal and drink Java.

But it was only one night, and I'm sure you enjoyed the adventure.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Think I just found out I never want to take more than a day trip on a train.
Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead


The bathrooms sound small but as long as you have one in your room that is good news.