October 3, 2014
There is a reason I haven’t posted much of anything on my blog lately. My family had a horrible year dealing with my daughter’s psychopathic boyfriend. I was finally able to relax and take a deep breath recently when he was captured and sent to prison.
Since that time I’ve been traveling and experiencing many things this year, trying to get my groove back. I’d thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my adventures with you.
My sister, Lisa, and I decided we would take a vacation together to visit our cousin Carla and her new wife, Linda, who lived in Oceanside, California. Since my sister has a fear of flying, we opted for a train trip, something neither of us had ever done.
We planned this trip back in January and both of us were extremely excited for our adventure to begin. Our trip on the train would consist of two nights to get from Kansas to California. We splurged and booked a Roomette. Amtrak described a Roomette as:
“Our Superliner Roomette is ideal for one or two passengers, with two comfortable reclining seats on either side of a big picture window. At night, the seats convert to a comfortable bed, and an upper berth folds down from above. Roomettes are located on both upper and lower levels of our double-decker Superliner train cars.”
Sounds wonderful, right? Keep reading…
Our train took off from Lawrence, Kansas, at 11:45 p.m. We were shocked when we arrived and realized the train station was closed. A sign on the door said the station opened fifteen minutes before our scheduled departure. This was what they did for every trip. When the attendant arrived, we were shocked once again when our baggage wasn’t inspected and couldn’t be checked.
Taking a train isn’t like flying.
There where no weighing in, inspection of bags, or going through a mental detector like you go through to get on a plane. No probing at all!
I made my cousins Kahlua and Lemoncello. Alcohol. I didn’t think I’d be allowed to take them on the train. I had my husband stay in case I couldn’t and so he could take them home. They didn’t inspect one bag.
Kind of scary if you think about terrorists and all the money our government spends to secure our travels. Guess they forgot about trains.
Not all train stations check baggage. Why do I bring this up?
Because both Lisa and I, not knowing what the weather would be like in California in October, packed our suitcases for any scenario we might encounter and packed close to the allotted amount (50 pounds).
Lisa brought two big suitcases and I brought one plus our carry-on bags. Train stations that don’t check baggage mean, basically, your entire luggage is carry-on. And our roomette was upstairs. Not fun lugging the bags up those steps.
After getting our luggage situated we went to our roomette. Small is an understatement! My closet at home was bigger than our room. The attendant had already turned our beds down, which made the room even smaller. It was dark, we couldn’t locate the room light and we had less than two feet to move around.
I volunteered to sleep in the upper berth. It was 2’0” wide x 6’6” long. I had to hoist my leg up and over to get my body into this bed. Once I did, I realized I couldn’t sit up to read because of the train’s curved ceiling. I couldn’t even sit up to turn around in this bed. Not a lot of room for an old lady!
My sister has some phobias, and, during the course of this strange, dark train ride, her irrational thinking began to take over her mind. Every bump was a break-in and every jerk was the train going off the tracks. Luckily for me, sleeping in the top bunk, a harness strapped across the middle would catch me if I started to fall off. Needless to say, neither of us slept a wink all night.
Finally daylight came and we had survived our first night. And what a difference daylight makes! The views were magnificent! We spent hours drooling out our window, gazing at extraordinary views of America.
I had traveled this area many times by car. I never saw anything more breathtaking than the views we experienced by train. Please take a minute and look around at my pictures.
The dinning car was awesome too!
They seat everyone in fours. My sister and I had to eat with other train people. We got to eat with two firefighters who traveled trains every year, two ladies who were on their way to a funeral in New Mexico, and lots of people from Kansas. We made a lot of train friends!
Once you get your train legs, Amtrak has a wide variety of train cars to visit. The observation car was fantastic! It has a panoramic view on both sides. AWESOME doesn’t explain how gorgeous the views were. If you don’t believe in God before your trip, you will once you see these views. I’m so happy to have the scenes forever etched in my mind.
But remember to be safe. One lady’s shoes and lunch were stolen while she was in the Observation Car. She kicked her shoes off before going to the restroom, came back and they were gone.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! But I’d be wiser the next time.
Here are some tips for train travelers:
- Pack ONLY what you need.
2. If you get a room, don’t pack food because you will eat three big meals a day in the dining car. This is included in your ticket price. (Yea, I had a backpack full of food I also had to carry around. Geez!).
3. Get on the train in daylight, especially if it’s your first time.
4. Bring lip balm and hand lotion. The air on the train dries out your skin and lips!
5. If you need room to move around, book the Bedroom Suite or Family Bedroom Suite. MUCH BIGGER!
6. Bring a camera because you are going to see the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see again. I used my iphone.
After our adventures on the superliner came to a halt, we ended up in Los Angeles Grand Central Train Station. Here we had to transfer to a smaller commuter train that would take us on to Oceanside. What a culture shock this was for us little ole Kansas ladies.
First thing I noticed was bicycles. They were everywhere inside the train station. Californians are very health smart. They eat well, are environmentally responsible, and exercise. Guess that’s the reason for all the bikes. Below is a picture I took while we were inside:
Second thing, people in LA are rude and weird! Once we got to LA, we were able to check our luggage. We had to hurry because our train took off for Oceanside in 45 minutes. Plus, my sister and I are smokers and we needed our nicotine fix.
We got to the baggage check line and waited our turn, moving our 3 big suitcases, my Nike bag (my grandson’s football bag which I had stuffed), my nifty backpack I won at the PWSA conference (full of food), my sister’s 2 small (43.75 pounds each) over-the-shoulder suitcases, our purses and my make-up train case along with us. No easy task, I promise!
And yes, I ordered a special make-up case made especially for trains. It was really cute! Here a link if you don’t believe they make these kinds of bags:
I rarely wear make up but I still packed it in case I needed to wear make-up somewhere.
When it was finally our turn to talk with the baggage employee, quite a line had formed behind us.
My sister had called before our trip and upgraded our tickets from coach to one night in a Roomette, but she had to pay for it in L.A. We barely got to the booth when a rude man in the back of the line yelled, “Hurry up, ladies, there are other people in line.”
I yelled back, “Like we have any control over that, dumb@#$!” Fifty minutes later our bags were checked, but we had missed our train and had to wait an hour before the next one came. We went outside to curb our nicotine cravings. We had to walk outside the station to smoke.
First a lady came up and asked for a cigarette. My sister gave her one.
Then a longhaired guy who looked as if he was wearing a dreadlock hair and cap wig asked for a smoke. I handed him one of mine.
With the cigarette in his hand he asked, “Is it poisoned?”
“No,” I replied.
“Do you believe in God?”
“Yes,” my sister answered.
“Do you swear on a stack of Bibles this cigarette isn’t poisoned?”
I looked at my sister. She looked at me with a “WTH” kind of look.
I said, “No, I don’t swear on a stack of Bibles for anything.”
He turned, dropped the unsmoked cigarette in the ashtray and left.
Another strange man verbally assaulted my sister. He shouted at her in the train station, said she shouldn’t be wearing “that shirt” in here. Granted, she was wearing her Kansas City Chiefs shirt and we were playing against the San Diego Chargers in about an hour, but—some people!!!!
The first commuter train we were scheduled to ride in ended up having repairs and we had to run to the next train that was about to leave. Once on board, we walked all the way down to the front. By this time our train legs had kicked in and we were able to continue until we found seats though not together.
The ride was a pleasant one. You could tell when we entered Oceanside because the Pacific Ocean appeared in the window. What a beautiful sight! We had finally reached our destination, Oceanside, California.
Happy writing and travels for all,
Until next time,
Blog edited by Sally Berneathy
Oceanside, California the adventure continues…Part two