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I have lots to write. I’ve been lazy. I will write now.

First installment with be my rant about rail travel.

I’ve always wanted to travel someplace by train. I was planning a trip to California in July, so I booked a seat on Amtrak. People told me I was crazy, but I didn’t listen. They all said it was going to be miserable, but I didn’t listen……Why didn’t I listen?

Day one on the train wasn’t bad. I found out the conductors guys are real pissy about changing seats. I got on in Vancouver with one other person and even though the car I was on was less than a third full I was placed in the very front seat after asking for a window seat. The guy said I would have to stay there, because 100 people were getting on in Portland. I immediately thought that if those people wanted a window seat, they should have got on at my stop, but the conductor guy didn’t agree. I guess people in Portland take priority over everyone who got on before them.

The front seat was fine other than being like the front seat on a plane. You don’t get a tray table? Well that sucked. Once we picked up the Portlanders, I ended up with a nice older gentleman sitting next to me who didn’t like the no table thing either. At the next stop a seat behind up opened up, so he asked if we could move. Once again the conductor got all pissy and explained once again about people who would be getting on in future stops. The older guy snapped at him, so we go the seats.

The trip was fun at first, but later turned into a semi-fast moving version of the Bataan Death March. I loved the scenery. I liked the sounds, and the bobbing boat-like motion the car made as it bounded down the track. That feeling lasted for about six of the TWENTY-TWO hours I would be on the train. After the six hour mark my butt started to fall asleep. The seat cushion I was sitting on probably should have been changed about twenty years ago, because I’ve sat on cement blocks that were more comfortable. Then it seemed like half way through the state of Oregon we slowed to about thirty five miles per hour? Then when we came up on some of the larger stations it was like they were trying to conserve gas by coasting into the stations. I swear I could have got out and ran alongside the train. That’s not what I want to have happen every hour when my ass is asleep.

As the sun set, I could no longer see anything outside the train. At 10:00pm they called for all passengers to be quiet, and turned most of the lights off. Ever try to sleep when your seat doesn’t recline very far and you can’t feel the lower half of your body? The guy next to me had been reading in the café car until about midnight then he came back. Once he fell asleep, he began snoring like a freight train and every once and a while he would stretch out pushing me into the window. I didn’t know if he was stretching, or trying to cop a feel? Needless to say by about four in the morning my butt was pretty much in pain from sitting on my fence post for the last fifteen hours.

Once the sun came up I got up to use the lavatory, and discovered that ALL the other passengers were nasty bitches. I’ve seen abandoned outhouses that were cleaner. When I was finished hovering I noticed the toilet paper was gone. No gone, it looked like it was torn from the holder during the night. Good thing they had a steady supply of paper towels. I then tried to wash my hands and was sprayed up the front with water, because the water pressure on trains is set at about 6000psi. Great, I got a complimentary shower.

My snoring companion got off at the Sacramento station, so I had the seat to myself for a few stops. Once we got back on the road, the train seemed to stop for ten minutes or so every twenty minutes to let another train go by. By this time my butt hurt so bad I thought about standing for the last hour which would have meant the conductor would be by to tell me to sit in my “assigned” seat. I was angry I was on a filthy train for what seemed like a life time, my legs stopped working, and the damn train seemed to be driving about three miles per hour. We only had thirty minutes until we landed at my station, but that took almost another hour due to all the coasting, and stopping for other trains.

When I finally got off the train, I asked about my bags. The guy at the gate said they would be here in about ten minutes. That was fine, because my legs were getting much needed blood now that I was standing. They guy said if I’m nice, the woman with the bags would give me my bag as she drove to the baggage gate which was about ten feet away from me.

The baggage lady turned out to be a psycho. She stopped about ten feet from me and made everyone get off the sidewalk so she could drive her little golf cart to the baggage door. I asked her if I could get my bag, because it was one of the three bags on the cart, but she cut me off and drove into the little room and closed the door. I walked around to the other side of the baggage room and stood in line for her to prep the whole baggage area for people to receive their luggage (me). I got to wait while she fiddled around with papers, and tags and whatever else she could find to adjust then looked up at me like she had never seen me before and asked me for my ticket. This reminded me of the airport scene in the movie “Meet the Parents” where Ben Stiller is the only person in the whole airport, and the woman at the gate makes him wait until she calls out all the other rows before he can board. The she looks at him like she has never seen him before. Yeah that scene. By this time I just wanted to leave bag or no bag. I had finally finished one of my bucket list items, but instead of being happy, I felt tired and defeated.

My destination was a frosty 102 degrees. I was sweating like a rented mule (the temperature  in Vancouver the day before was 65 degrees). Dinner was late, and I was still wearing my infected train travel clothes. Argument at dinner. All I wanted to do was sleep.

What have I learned from all this? LISTEN TOP PEOPLE! FLY! It only takes an hour and a half to cover the same distance, and I get free drinks while I do it.

I do have a few funny stories from the trip, but I am tired. It will have to be tomorrow.

I say again – “Screw the train! I will never do that again.”

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