Sunday, July 06, 2008

Travelblog episode 1: The beginning of our Amtrak Adventures

Our reunion adventure began on Tuesday June 17th, the last day of school. I left work at noon-ish, drove over to Bellevue to pick up Mom, then hauled her and her suitcases home where I loaded many of the other bags in the Subaru while Paige went and got the kids from school, and at about 3:30 our friends Kat and Shelly showed up to help schlep all our crap (and all of us) up to Edmonds to get on the train.

At the train station two things went wrong. First, I moronically forgot to pull out one of the "seatbelt thingies" from the back seat - the "safety hug" seatbelt adjusters to allow the kids to ride in the back seat without needing boosters. Didn't realize I'd forgotten it until several hours later, unfortunately, but luckily while I was still in cell phone range. The second wrong thing was flood-realted: Thanks to the flooding in Wisconsin the train couldn't get farther than Minneapolis St. Paul, so we were going to be put on a bus from there to Chicago where we'd then take a commuter train back up to Milwaukee. Disappointing, but not horrible.

The train arrived right on time, we loaded in to car 830 and headed down to room 15, the "family bedroom". If you haven't ridden in a sleeper car on an Amtrak train, well, they're compact. Mom's "roomette" was slightly wider than a chair and about 6 feet long. There are two seats facing each other with a sliding table thing in between. The family room, on the other hand, is bigger. It runs the full width of the train, with two seats facing each other on one end and a long bench seat running across to the other window. There's also a closet that was billed on the Amtrak web site as "large enough for a small carry-on bag", by which apparently they mean a bag that's about 6 inches deep. I know of none that meet this dimension.

Our porter Mary, a very nice if chatty woman, gave us our seating tickets for dinner - the 6:30 seating, thank you very much. We got settled in as the train rolled north along Puget Sound from Edmonds to Everett, and were called up to dinner shortly after we turned and started heading East. Dinner on the train is a forced social encounter, unless you happen to have 4 people in your party. Since we had 5, we chose to split in to 3 and 2, with Mom and Paige eating together and me stuck with the kids. We shared a table with a guy who was heading back to, oh, Chicago or somewhere out that way after visiting his brother in Everett. Not sure who Paige and Mom shared a table with.

How was the food, you ask? Pretty damn good, I must say! The dinner menu was:

  • 8 oz Flatiron steak with potato or rice and mixed veggies
  • Half a game hen with potato or rice and mixed veggies
  • "Fish of the day" - which turned out to be trout
  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • And if you're a kid, pizza, mac and cheese, or a hot dog.

Maya and I had the steak, Logan went with Pizza. And for dessert, since 8 ounces of steak and a bunch of rice is clearly not enough food, cheesecake with raspberry swirl, a chocolate peanut butter torte, or chocolate or vanilla Hagen Daz. I had the cheesecake, the kids went with the ice cream.

And then the fun began. But I don't have time tonight to finish the story, so that'll have to wait for tomorrow.

No comments: