Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Come On, Ride the Train! (The ride out west)

Okay. So everyone knows we took the train out West when we went on vacation. Let me tell you about our wonderful experience riding the rails!

First off, let me just say that Amtrack is noitorious for being late. Or so we had heard. We were to board the Lake Shore Limited at 1:30am in Erie, Pa. Sadly, our train was delayed in Albany, NY when someone was struck and killed by a freight train and the line was closed until the accident investigation was completed. We boarded at 4:35am, slid into our roomettes' beds and quickly fell asleep. The porter took care of the 2 bags too large to store in our roomettes.

We woke and ate breakfast in the dining car at around 8:30am. Since we were in a sleeper car and considered first class, our breakfast was free of charge. Let me tell you how yummy breakfast was! J., Xavian, & Korra had the thickest french toast, and I had a cheese omlet with fried potatoes. The chef prepared our breakfast fresh, from the center of the car. Soooooo yummy!

Here we are, all excited and ready to eat!

We returned to our roomettes and napped a bit more. The guys woke up and check out the train, while the porter put away the beds and reset the seating. When Korra, Saxton and I returned to the land of the living, I joined J. and we watched the world go by. The Chicago skyline was pretty impressive!

The Chicago's Union Station is supposed to be quite impressive, but, we wouldn't know. Since our train was running behind, we didn't have time to check things out. Amtrak brings you in below street level, and the 1st class lounge is at the same level. Amtrak gets kudos for service here: when we were deboarding, our porter told us to stay put by our bags. A redcap pulled right up, loaded us and our bags, and zipped us to the lounge! No fighting crowds with 3 kids!

The kids and I relaxed in the lounge while J. changed his return ticket (he had to come back early for work) and checked the bags. Every employee had a smile on their face, were polite, and was way helpful! When's the last time you got that at an airport?

Before we knew it, it was time to board the Southwest Chief!

The Southwest Chief is a superliner, as in it's 2 levels. The coach seats are on the top level, while the bags and restrooms are on the bottom level. There is a dining car AND an observation car with a snack bar on the lower level.

Shortly after the Chief pulled out of the station, around came a gentleman taking dinner reservations. Ahhhhh, service.

Dinner was, how do I say this? It was fantastic? Tasty? Everything we hoped it would be? All of the above. I had trout, J. had half a roasted hen, and the kids had mac in cheese.

Psssssst. Amtrak-what's with the plastic dishes?

Later, while J. caught a nap, the kids and I had cookies and root beer from the snack bar while we watched the sun set.

Dinky little cookies.

We relaxed and dozed off and on in our Lazy Boy-like recliners pretty much the rest of the ride. No popping ears, no one grumbling because you leaned your seat back, and no stress. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

Now, the Union Station in Kansas City, MO is big. Not too big. Just big enough to accomidate 20,000 people in the origional waiting room alone. Cozy. Having arrived after 10pm, there was no one there but the security guard and the passengers getting on and off the train. J. and I took tons of pictures of the architecture. It was so beautiful! Painted ceilings, chandeliers, shining marble floors, carved wood, soaring collums, a massive station clock, 3 restraunts, sales stands, and soooooo much more! Just: wow.

(please excuse some of these photos were taken when the kids and I returned to the station)

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