We left Tuesday, November 23rd and I found out something very early in the trip. Even though you are allowed to take a large piece of luggage on the train, DON’T DO IT! You would have to check this same size on an airplane but they are allowed as carry-ons on the train. The stairs on a train are narrow and steep and when you have a bag that is two-thirds as tall as you are and wider than you are, it is darned difficult to push it up those stairs. Add a rolling briefcase and big purse stuffed with snacks and you are in big trouble!
The next thing I learned is that you’d better love the one you’re with, because these are very tight quarters! Two people, four bags and a purse will totally fill up a sleeper … and we had a large one with a bathroom! No kidding, I now think I know what it’s like to be on a submarine. I always thought my bathroom growing up was small but I had no clue what small really was until this trip. You open the narrow bathroom door and you are confronted with an area the size of an airplane bathroom. The problem is that, even though there is no sink to contend with, this bathroom also contains a shower. Yeah, that’s right, a shower with a shower curtain to pull across the door opening … after you have closed the narrow little door, of course. There is a sign saying that it is easier taking a shower while seated but if you MUST stand up, hang on! They aren’t kidding either. I don’t know about a shower but I can tell you that going to the bathroom is the hardest thing to do on a moving, rocking train. Not only do you have to contend with rocking forward and back, the train is going forward and you are facing toward the side. The train is not on totally flat rails, so you do hit bumps along the way.
That may prepare you a little for walking down the hall from your room to the dining car and Sightseer car but not really. You’re trying to move forward. The train is moving forward, swaying side to side, and bumping up and down. I think I could get used to that but the swaying and bumping is not consistent. Sometimes it is barely noticeable and at other times, your feet tend to get crossed up and over just trying to take a step. And you’d better have both hands ready. You’ll need them to steady yourself on each side wall or the backs of the seats you are passing.
I have to admit though that the train trip was fun and it was peaceful and relaxing. We spent quite some time in the Sightseer car in seats that either faced the windows on each side or at a table with a bench on both sides. We watched a lot of scenery go by, talked, read, wrote and I played Nintendo DS. No, I did NOT bring out the laptop! Except for the shower, I really wouldn’t mind taking another Amtrak trip some day.
… to be continued