Stephen King Part Five

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event. November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event.
November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

What happens when you finally get to be in a room with a legendary author you fell in love with as a teen? Would you fear being disappointed? Well, I did, and I wasn’t disappointed!

 

On November 13, 2014, this chick went to a Stephen King event in Kansas City, MO. Rainy Day Books put on the event. My sisters from Midwest Romance Writers and I all went as a group.

 

Stephen King  on stage, wearing a Royal ball cap.

Stephen King on stage, wearing a Royal’s ball cap.

He came out on stage wearing a Kansas City Royals ball cap, and of course the crowd roared. (Read the blog above this one)

 

He even read an excerpt from his new book, Revival. How cool is that!

 

 

As a wanna-be author, I was enthralled especially when he talked about his writing process. He’ll see a story on the news and it will stick with him or, as he said, “percolates” for a few weeks or even months. The idea begins to beg him to write about it. Once it does, he sits and writes his story. The writing takes about four months, sometimes longer. But his bottom line was, “it takes as long as it takes, but if you don’t keep at it, you don’t pay the bills.”

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Of all the authors I’ve ever read, he is the one that sticks out as the “Great One” and always will be. Carrie scared the hell out of me when I was fifteen and went to the movies to see it with my girlfriends. That part where Carrie’s hand comes up from the grave and grabs her friend’s hand, just when she about to lay flowers on her grave, still gives me the willies. I think about it every time I visit the cemetery.

 

stephenking.wikia.com

stephenking.wikia.com

That, my friends, is what you call great writing—if the image is still with you from something you’ve read or seen a couple of decades ago. He talked about being called the “King of Horror” and how he never thought of himself as writing horror. He told about an older lady who came up to him in the grocery store and said, “I know who you are. You’re that man who writes all them horrible books and I don’t read those. Why can’t you write something like Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile?”

 

Ha! He wrote them both.

 

One of the questions he is always asked is, “What happened in your childhood that would make you write the kind of stories you write?” He didn’t have a bad childhood. His mother was a “hardcore” Methodist. He himself doesn’t like organized religion because it forces people to act, believe and think like the institution and not for themselves.

 

He read an excerpt from his new book, an excerpt about music. He loves rock and roll. The Rain Day people had a guitar brought in and he played song “Gloria” by the Doors for us. It was GREAT!

 

‪He talked about being offered a cameo part in Sons of Anarchy (one of my favorite TV series). He loves Kurt Sutter’s writing. He said, “Ordinarily I would say no but he said he’d put me on a Harley, so I agreed.” Sutter also assured King that his character would be doing something “suitably nasty.”

 

latimesblogs.latimes.com

latimesblogs.latimes.com

 

Stephen King played “Bachman” in Season Three, Episode Three, titled “Caregiver.” Also interesting for me is that King wrote two novels under the pen name of Richard Bachman—The Running Man (1987) and Thinner (1996). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1559911/

 

King has been getting some bad press here in Kansas from Kerri Rawson, daughter of Dennis Rader (aka BTK serial killer from Wichita, Kansas), over his screenplay and upcoming TV movie from a story inspired by Dennis Rader. “A Good Marriage” is a story in a collection from his book published in 2010, Full Dark, No Stars. See Associated Press article dated September 27, 2014: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/27/daughter-btk-killer-publicly-criticizes-stephen-king/

 

insidemovies.ew.com

insidemovies.ew.com

I am happy he is making the movie because his last stop before he came to KC was in Wichita, and I assume that was what brought him to our state. I love Stephen King books. As a writer, we get our ideas from the environment around us. Anyone who says different is in denial. I can’t wait for the movie to come out, and I ordered “Full Dark, No Stars” and got it today. I can’t wait to start reading it!

 

And so does Heidi Senesac!

And so does Heidi Senesac!

One disappointment was Stephen King only signed a certain number of books. I didn’t get one.  But our wonderful president of MRW did and e-mailed me asking if we could trade because she knows I’m a big fan! Thank you, Heidi! You’re the best friend ever and a wonderful president of our group!

 

What a year it has been! Life just keeps getting better and better!

 

Until next time,

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

 

 

 

 

Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would…Part Four

October 26, 2014

 

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Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would chant, “Let’s Go, Royals” for their professional baseball team (who made it to the World Series) at a Kansas City Chiefs football game!

http://fansided.com/2014/09/30/lets-go-royals-chant-breaks-kansas-city-chiefs-win-video/

 

I’m not from Kansas City. I live on a small farm in Kansas. I can tell you, coming from a small town doesn’t make you any less of a Kansas City sports fan. We love our sports teams!

 

Not so surprising when you think about small towns. Our kids play football, soccer, and baseball from the time they can hold a bat. There’s not much else to do in a small town.

 

Both my mother and father were diehard Chiefs fans. While they were married, they held season tickets. After their divorce, they only agreed on one thing: their love for their Chiefs would never die. And it never did.

 

I have memories of Sunday dinners and watching the game. We’d scream at the top of lungs when the team was about to make a touchdown or had made an interception. My mother once lost her false teeth screaming so loud for a Chiefs player to run. Her teeth went flying across the room and hit the TV. Even our dog barked when we yelled!

 

My husband won driver of the month at his company and was given KC Chiefs football tickets as a reward. On October 27th, 2014, I took my grandson, Alex, to his second game. It was his first one with me.

 

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Alex knows football. When I say he knows football, I mean he knows the players on every team in the entire NFL. No, he didn’t learn it from me; instead, he learned it from the PlayStation Madden NFL game he plays with his friends. He knows all the players’ stats in the NFL. Alex learned to be an analyzer of players so he could pick the best teams for his Madden game. Plus, he plays as a defensive tackle on his junior high football team.

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He also enjoys telling me what I don’t know about players.

 

But Alex didn’t understand what it was like to be a Chiefs fan until he went to the game with his grandma.

 

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I screamed and banged on my seat when the opposing team had the ball. (In case you don’t know this already, Arrowhead is in the Guinness World record book for being the loudest confirmed stadium in the world.)

 

http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/article-2/Arrowhead-Stadium-Breaks-World-Record/47d77f49-e8cb-4e19-b6a4-8c17ff027bbd)

 

He kept hushing me, and I’d scream louder. Alex is a little shy. As I said earlier, he’s an analyzer of the game. I chanted when we got a touchdown or a first down.

Finally in the fourth quarter my grandson started to yell, chant and bang on his chair. My duty as a Chiefs fan and as his grandma had been fulfilled.

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Alex also got to experience a couples engagement two rows down. Three KC Chief’s band members showed up beating the drums in our section. KC Wolf followed them. KC Wolf showed the gal he stood in front of a chalk board. On It read: “Emily will you marry me? Blake”

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And she said yes!

I told Alex, ” Now, that’s a game she’ll never forget! I’d marry him!” LOL!  All of the couples family stood behind me holding up signs. It was great!

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Both my parents are gone but I felt their presence at this game when I saw my grandson loosen up and scream for the Chiefs. He wasn’t an analyzer anymore; he was a Chiefs fan. My parents would have been so proud of the fans when we chanted for our Royals in Arrowhead Stadium. Win or lose, we love our teams!

 

And even then!

And even then!

We won against St Louis. It was the first time I ever went to a game where the Chiefs won. Alex is my lucky charm. As a writer, we must write words that evoke emotions. Sitting in that stand, feeling the power of the love for a team from all of the KC Chiefs fans is a emotion I know he’ll never forget. I know I never have!

 

Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex. at Arrowhead Stadium, KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex, at Arrowhead Stadium in KC, Mo.

 

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

PSWA Conference 2014 Part Three

 

July 10-14, 2014

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Another year, another wonderful conference put on by the PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) July 10-14 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas! The conference is open to anyone writing crime and mystery fiction or non-fiction technical writing for public safety magazines in print or online or anyone interested in writing.

 

This is a small conference filled with public safety officers from all walks of life.

 

We had former undercover DEA agents, FBI agents, CIA agents, Naval Intelligence agents (that’s a whole lot of agents!), and detectives/police officers from all over. EMTs and firefighters were also in attendance as were seasoned mystery writers, therapists and social workers.

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This year I volunteered to be a contestant to play CSI Jeopardy. I was the only non-law enforcement person to play.

and Diane Kratz

Joe Haggerty and Diane Kratz

I was up against Pete Kilsmet whom you met here on my blog. He wiped the floor with me. Even though I came in last place, everyone rooted for me. It was a great experience and lots of fun!

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Pete Klismet and Thonie Hevron

 

This year’s panels were a mix of the writing craft and expert knowledge.

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Panel- Madeline Gornell, Janet Greger, Marilyn Olsen and Marilyn Meredith.

 

Flexibility in Your Plotting

Writing Articles in Today’s Competitive Market

What are Setting and Dialogue and How Should You Use Them?

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Mike Black put together this years conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Point of View: What is it, How to Use it Best

Working with an Editor, the Art of Revision, and How to Edit Yourself

The Aspects to be Considered When Writing a Series

 

 

On Expert Knowledge:

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Dave, a former DEA agent , gave a presentation on Working Narcotics Undercover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Narcotics Undercover

The Medical Side of Wounds and Forensics

Weapons for Writers

Defense Criminal Investigative Organizations in the Military

The Evolution and Aspects of Fire Fighting and Arson Investigation

The Art of Interview and Interrogation

 

They also have a competition every year. No, I didn’t send anything but the entry fee is only $10.00 per entry.

 

Competition categories were:

Michelle Perin officiating Judge

Michelle Perin, PSWA award spokeswoman

 

Fiction:

Books, Short Stories, Flash Fiction

 

Non Fiction:

Books, Creative-Non-Technical, Creative-Technical, and Technical Manual

Poetry

Screenplay

 

 

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Also, if you join this group, you are entitled to a free one-time manuscript review.

 

On the last day we had our awards luncheon where the winners of the competition are revealed. I didn’t attend this because we met up with family.

 

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This year I got to meet in person, two people I’ve become friends with over the web in other writing groups. Sam Bradley, my KOD sister, joined PSWA this year and fit right in to the group. She volunteered to be on three of the panels.

 

Diane and Sam

Diane and Sam

 

Rayne E. Golay, an Elements group sister, also joined PSWA this year. She volunteered to be on two panels. I had a great time and learned a bunch.

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Rayne E. Golay

 

I can’t say enough about this group of writers. I love, love, love PSWA!

 

If any of you would like information on or would like to join PSWA please go to their website at: http://policewriter.com/wordpress/

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

Oceanside, California the adventure continues…Part Two

 

LA- in front of  train station

LA- in front of train station

We arrived in the beautiful town called Oceanside. Oceanside is on the southern California coast next to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s a beach community. Bags still in the car, we went straight to the beach. WOW! Talk about breathtaking!

Oceanside, California and my first look at the Pacific Ocean.

Oceanside, California and my first look at the Pacific Ocean.

I saw the ocean once as a child but never remembered it the way I saw it as an adult. It was powerful. It was beautiful. And it was seductive. I could have sat there for hours just gazing at the ocean’s beauty.

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

Lisa and I had just earned our train legs. Now we had to earn our sea legs. The waves were strong. We walked up to the edge. When the wave came in, it almost knocked us over. Then when we thought we were out of danger the wave exhaled and almost sucked us back into the water.

My cousin Carla instructed us to position our legs slightly apart and dig our feet into the sand—sand shoes—which we did. I don’t know how long we were there, but I didn’t want to leave.

My cousin Carla

My cousin Carla

Eventually we left the ocean for lunch. We ended up at a sports bar named PCH to have burgers and beer while we watched the Chiefs playing against the San Diego Chargers. We were the only Chiefs fans in the bar. Lucky for us, the other patrons in bar were more interested in the San Francisco 49ers game than the Chargers. Only one TV had our game on.

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I didn’t realize that California has three professional football teams—San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and the team every Chiefs fan hates the most, the Oakland Raiders.

This man has his car covered in jewels! Never seen anything like it!

This man has his car covered in jewels! Never seen anything like it!

We drank dark beer, watched our team lose by three points, then went on a tour of Oceanside. I got to see sea lions warming themselves on boat docks and a bedazzled car before we proceeded to Linda and Carla’s home.

Gets up to 126/ 10 MPG City/Hwy. Found picture at: http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/

Gets up to 126/ 10 MPG City/Hwy. Found picture at: http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/

As I stated in an earlier post, Californians eat smart and are environmentally responsible. My cousins are no exceptions. Carla and Linda recycle everything. They have a Nissan Leaf electric car and Fiat 500 convertible; both are energy efficient, as is every appliance in their home.

We stayed up late talking and catching up outside in their beautiful back yard. They have an avocado tree as well as a milkweed plant for caterpillars to munch on. Butterflies were hanging in cocoons everywhere. They are called “the butterfly whispers” by friends.

California days were in the high 80s and at night the ocean breeze cooled down Carla and Linda’s house to the 60s. PERFECT weather!

Bright and early the next morning we were on the road and off to Disneyland. California’s highways are very different than what we have where I live. They have a car pool lane that only car poolers can use. The landscapes that encircled the California highways were like looking at paintings. Absolutely stunning!

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As soon as we entered Disneyland, my grandma guilt kicked in for being there without my grandkids. But I looked at my sister’s face glowing with excitement because she had never been to “the happiest place in the world” before. I shucked the guilt and had fun watching her grin from ear to ear especially when we rode the teacups. Her dream since she was seven was realized.

Life was GREAT!

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We rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, went into the Haunted Mansion, took a ride through Storybook Land, ate homemade toffee, chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick, pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse, and Carla and I had her favorite, corn dogs.

Tinkerbell in the parade

Tinkerbell in the parade

We watched the parade before going home. Carla thought since we spent the day walking, the next day should be a spa day—a day of relaxation, rejuvenation and, as a social worker would say, a day of self-care.

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The next morning, we got up early and headed to Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, in Corona, CA. http://www.glenivy.com

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I live on a farm. My nails are always in bad shape because I always have them in the warm earth. I’d never been to a spa before, and I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable things I did while in California.

 

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I had my nails, feet and face done. Their nail polish had no harsh chemicals to damage my nails. The facial—I didn’t want it to ever end. The term “magic fingers” was an understatement!

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Afterward I was slathered with a paint brush with a deeply hydrating masque of aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter and hints of eucalyptus and lavender oil. This mixture was applied from the neck down and allowed to soak into my skin as I relaxed in a heated grotto area.

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The grotto was a cave-like sauna. I came out feeling ten years younger. I could do this again and again!

Lisa at Club Mud!

Lisa at Club Mud!

They have nineteen pools that I didn’t get to experience but my sister did. She enjoyed a massage, the hot spring water pool, saline pool for her aching muscles and the mud pool. It’s red clay mud only found in California.

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The setting at Glen Ivy was magnificent. It was like walking into a tropical paradise.

From right to left: Diane, Carla and my sister Lisa.

From right to left: Diane, Carla and my sister Lisa.

When it was time to go, we headed to Callaway Vineyards to do some wine tasting. But because I took advantage of so many of Glen Ivy’s treatments, we arrived at Callaway Vineyards five minutes before they closed so we didn’t get to experience any wine tasting.

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We did, however, get to see all their vineyards with the grapevines. They were massive and gorgeous to gaze upon. I promised my friend I’d bring her back some wine. Lucky for me I have the best cousin in the world, because Carla and Linda belonged to Callaway’s wine club. Carla picked up their monthly offering and gave it to me so I could give it to my friend. Isn’t that wonderful?

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Lisa and I, holding the wine Carla gave me. Neither of us had on any makeup. We just came from the spa.

We spent the next day at Buccaneer Beach in Oceanside. Carla packed a picnic basket with sandwiches, baked wheat potato chips, grapes and vitamin water. We were hypnotized by the waves moving in and out while we sun bathed, people watched, bird watched and collected shells. Finally I got up the courage to attempt to swim in the ocean.

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As I walked out, the sand turned rocky. I had to walk out a little farther to find sand again. The powerful waves grabbed me and I felt like a rag doll being shaken by a dog. I tasted salt water in my mouth and smelled it in my nose. Carla advised me to jump into the waves as they came so I wouldn’t be tossed about. I did, and I survived! I’ll admit I was scared to death. But I can die now knowing I swam in the ocean.

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That night we went to Carlsbad Farmers Market in Carlsbad, California. I bought Asian Pears (they tasted much sweeter than any Asian pear I ever bought in Kansas) and Pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid).

They sold big avocados called Reed avocados which I had never heard of before. Who knew there was more than one kind of avocado? There was strawberry guava too, another fruit I’d never heard of.

They had different honeys from different beekeepers. You could buy honey made by bees that pollinated plants from the region. Examples included: orange honey, avocado honey, wildflower honey, etc. I bought honey from wildflower because that’s what I knew and because it tasted the sweetest to me. Yes, we got to sample everything sold there.

Homemade peach pie! Thanks Linda!

Homemade peach pie! Thanks Linda!

Linda doesn’t eat meat but, bless her heart, she grilled us New York strips on the grill, and Carla made us a delicious kelp salad. For dessert, Linda made my sister and me our favorite pie, peach, from scratch. She revealed after I wolfed down half of it that the flour she used was whole wheat flour. I would have never guessed the crust was made from whole wheat. It was delicious!

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The next day we were off to San Diego to do some whale watching. Carla’s sister, Nellie, and our other cousin, wanted to take us on a chartered boat tour to watch whales.

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It was great! My sister’s phobias started to kick in again so I bought all of us a Mimosa (champagne and orange juice), hoping it would calm her down or at least take the edge off. She wouldn’t bite (or should I say, drink). She stayed terrified all the way there.

The captain kept us out an hour longer than he was supposed to. He wanted to make sure we saw a whale. And we did. I got to see an Orca. I’d love to say I got a picture of this beauty but by the time I got my camera out, she was gone.

I also saw a flying fish and, yes, this fish has wings. It flies and swims. Its scientific name is Exocoetidae, an Asian fish with wings.

 

. I’d love to say I captured a picture of this elusive fish, but although I snapped many shots, none of the fish were visible in my pictures. I found pictures of them on the Internet. They kind of look like dragonflies to me. It was AWESOME!

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Here’s one of many pictures I tried to get of the flying fish. Just too fast to capture on my iPhone.

 

Afterward we drove to a restaurant called C Level right on the ocean and ate dinner. Carla had coupons she saved just for our trip so our meal was free. My cousins shared salmon with Wasabi mashed potatoes and ahi tuna stack topped with caviar. Linda had lobster macaroni and cheese. I ate a feta chicken salad, and my sister had a burger. We shared each other’s food, talked, laughed and had a wonderful time. The food was delicious, the company superb and the views were beyond words.

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The last night, Thursday night, we went to the Oceanside Sunset Market and shopped for souvenirs. I found an alpaca sweater for my daughter and a stone cross necklace for my husband. Carla bought us a cup full of homemade caramels. We hurried so we could watch the sun set on the ocean.

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OMG! What a sight! I watched the ball of fire slowly descend into the ocean as if it was taking a dip in the water. My sister and I waved goodbye to the ocean and I felt a sadness seep inside. I knew it was the last time we would see each on that trip.

After seeing all these beautiful landscapes, it’s hard not to believe in God or a higher power. Someone or something far greater than you or me painted these pictures. I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen them.

I am a very lucky woman. I’m so thankful to have a family who loves me.

 

Carla and Linda, my cousins

Carla and Linda, my cousins

 

Thank you, Carla and Linda! You made our days in California unforgettable.

 

Nellie and I

Nellie and I

Thank you, Nellie, for showing me what lived in the ocean. I love you girls with all my heart!

Until next time, enjoy the beauty that surrounds you!

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

 

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

Trains, Superliners, and Roomettes… Oh My! Part One

 

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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.

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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.”

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=AM_Accommodation_C&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241210576173

Sounds wonderful, right? Keep reading…

Lawrence Amatrk  train station

Lawrence Amatrk train station

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.

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Taking a train isn’t like flying.

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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.

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Kind of scary if you think about terrorists and all the money our government spends to secure our travels. Guess they forgot about trains.

And…

 

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).

 

imgres-5Lisa 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.

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Our roomette before the beds were down. Picture two grown women sitting across from each other. Knee’s touching and all!

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!

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I took this one off the web. It’s a family suite. Ours didn’t have a ladder and was a lot smaller than this. The door is about 2 inches from the bed when its down.

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.

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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.

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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.

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The dinning car was awesome too!

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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!

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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.

More Colorado pines.

Colorado pines.

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.

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Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! But I’d be wiser the next time.

Here are some tips for train travelers:

  1. Pack ONLY what you need.

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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!).

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3. Get on the train in daylight, especially if it’s your first time.

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4. Bring lip balm and hand lotion. The air on the train dries out your skin and lips!

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5. If you need room to move around, book the Bedroom Suite or Family Bedroom Suite. MUCH BIGGER!

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6. Bring a camera because you are going to see the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see again.  I used my iphone.

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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.

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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:

 

LA train Station

LA train Station

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:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00842HM4I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

I rarely wear make up but I still packed it in case I needed to wear make-up somewhere.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Weird!

 

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!!!!

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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.

Ocean View

Ocean View

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,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

 

Oceanside, California the adventure continues…Part two