Friday, June 06, 2008

The return trip

Having destroyed my spine on the way to Orlando by trying to sleep in a train seat I decided to go ahead with the upgrade for my return trip. My trip was cut short by having everything go according to plan so all that money I intended to blow on hotel, car, and food wasn't getting spent. So I decided to enjoy the trip back.

I had considered flying back, but the train trip was factored in as part of the vacation. This is the first trip I can call a vacation since I tried to see a shuttle launch in 2002. Who knows when the next one will be. No, seriously, I want to see hands. Who knows when the next one will be?

Coach isn't like you see in TV and movies. There's not a lot of little compartments with people facing each other. It's set up more like an airplane. Lots of rows with everyone facing forward. The seats are just as uncomfortable but about the size of first class seats on airplanes.

Sleeper cars are more like what you picture. Not as deep. You get two people facing each other in good sized seats that are a bit more comfortable. But maybe that's just because I'm sitting with my legs resting on the seat across from me. Reclining is not an option. But there's a bed. The bed is on a track and lowers from the ceiling. There's several lights, and air vents. And best of all an electrical outlet. No, strike that, the bed is definitely best of all.
It took me a bit to find the door. It, like most doors here, slides into the wall. There's bottled water waiting for me. A newspaper in the morning. Food is included in the cost of the ticket. For me that means 3 meals. There's a fold out sink and a covered toilet. Obviously you want to share a cabin with someone you know well. There's a burser of sorts. I'll probably have to tip him. He does look a bit like wossname from Love Boat.

As soon as I got on I was told that my dinner reservations were already made and could progress straight to the dining car. I got a table with a woman and her daughter who are going to DC. When we get there I'm going to introduce them to how the Metro works. The daughter is an Agatha Christie fan. So we had to talk about "Murder on the Orient Express" for awhile. She's a sci-fi fan, too. Gee, if only she were 20 years older. Her mom and I talked Dr Who. Gee, of only she were 10 years younger, wasn't married, and didn't have kids.

By the time I got back to my cabin the sun was long gone. I sit here at my keyboard watching the dark zip by.

Isaac! That's his name. The Love Boat guy.


Being in your own cabin sure doesn't mean the train sways any less. I'm almost scared to find out how much it'll swing when I'm in bed and that much closer to the ceiling.

[later still]

Just finished the book I've been reading while in Orlando and wrote up my review. You'll see it in a few days.
I brought down the bed. Isaac helped set it up. I would have missed the security straps. Not really sure if they're to hold the bed up or hold me in as the train swings. There's lights up there so I'm going to start reading my next book up there.

Strike that. I'm gonna watch some movies I dumped on this laptop. It's 11:00 already. I'll just get rocked to sleep while watching... let's see ... Pitch Black might do it. Let's see where the border between being rocked to sleep and shaken senseless is.

[next morning]

I still woke up several times in the night. Mostly due to sudden shakes and noises from the train.
I'd like to try one of those high speed trains in Japan or Europe. These American trains share the same crap tracks as the cargo trains. They're not meant for speed or smooth rides. They're just there to keep you going in the right direction.

I'd like to say that trains are going to become more popular as the gas prices rise. But you've seen the prices at the pump. $4/gal for unleaded and $5/gal for diesel. In two or three years I'm gonna look at this entry and laugh about how cheap gas was. Kind of like thinking about the first time I saw some con artist charging a whole buck per gallon just because he was the only station you could find in 20 miles.
Oil is oil. If it goes up for airlines and cars ...

Holy crap, I think we left the rails for a moment there. First one side and then the other. It's bad enough when you feel the wheels on one side touch down on the rail.'ll go up for trains as well. And if you're traveling coach planes are the same price as trains.

It's kind of depressing going this way.
There's plenty of old abandoned rail stations. At the very least they'd make for good restaurants.
I have to wonder how many of these towns we're going through are really this poor and how many are just that poor along the tracks. One town looked like that may have been main street at one point. Now 1 out of every 5 shops is boarded up and the rest don't exactly look profitable. The street has had lots of cracks filled but probably hasn't been resurfaced in 20-30 years.
I've lost count of the number of mobile homes we've passed. I can't even say most are in parks. Somebody had a plot of land, a few vehicles on blocks, and a mobile home.

The Spanish Moss has vanished. As have the plants with point leaves. We must be out of Florida.

The engineer does love his horn. I don't think it honked this much on the way down.

[near the end]

Just been reading and letting the speeding greenness out the window hypnotize me. Took a few pictures of some swampland.
The hamburger was awful.

Tomorrow it's back to work. Feh.

1 comment:

Mike Rhode said...

If the US made the same commitment to trains that it makes to airplanes and cars, we'd have a world-class system. Even the privatized UK system was much more pleasant than Amtrak. And quick too.