Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The train ride to Chicago

Promenade Lounge, Union Station, Portland
All aboard!

If you have to be somewhere fast, Amtrak is not the answer, period the end. Moreover if you have a connecting flight or a connecting train to catch, I wish you the best of luck. On time and speed is not the norm for this National Train. Priorities are given to the freight train and now the oil tankers in North Dakota; fracking is rampant in the Plains state.

Not only we had to come three hours and fifteen minutes earlier, we are still late arriving in Chicago by four hours. But I have to say, the train left Portland on time at 1:40 P.M. We are treated with the scenery of Columbia River from Washington state looking south on the first hours on the trip.
The train arrived in Spokane at 9:30 P.M. and it is connected with the sister train from Seattle, two engines are now pulling us from this point on. It is time to sleep for the night, as the train moves east to Idaho and Montana.

We did not sleep well the first night; I ordered a roomette which is becoming smaller by the minute. Pokie sleeps on the upper bunk bed and I sleep below, the two chairs become a bed, the second night is better by a long shot, maybe we are tired, that’s the only explanation I can have. Next time if there is any, we will order a bedroom which is a lot bigger that the roomette and it has its own bathroom.

The only decent food that I have was those two breakfasts, lunch and dinner is Ok for me, I did order vegetarian pasta and it was not thoroughly cooked. The vegetarian burgers are not any better, but I could eat. By the way, corn medley is served on every meal; we had a chuckle over that! Here comes the corn medley again! Pokie exclaimed on every meal.
We used the shower twice to refresh ourselves in the morning, I call it a “dripping faucet” but it does the job. What interesting is one hand hold the safety bar and the other hand hold the soap bar due to the rocking motion of the train!

Other than spending twenty-four hours on the train on my birthday, one of the highlight in this trip is meeting my high school friend from Indonesia who boarded in Minneapolis/St.Paul Union Station to Chicago. This is purely coincidence and unplanned. What a treat.

Arriving in Chicago four hours late and it is getting dark fast, we walked to our hotel with the empty stomach, and luckily we found a nice establishment that sells pizza and fresh salad. The bed in our hotel looks so inviting after the roomette on the train.

In conclusion American track is not for passenger train, but for freight. I do not know if I will ever see a high speed train in my lifetime. I got my wish though; we travel about 2,200 plus miles to Chicago. If you think that I was deterred by this experience, think again, my next trip would be from Vancouver, BC to Toronto in Canada for four days and three nights, I just have to convince Pokie to go along, wish me a lot of luck!

Here’s my poem on Amtrak.

All aboard!
Memories will be made
Timely arrival is not guaranteed
Running late is the norm
All aboard!
Keeping America moving at a much slower speed

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