It had always been a dream of mine to travel on a train. I’ve taken day trips on trains, but never slept on a train. I thought it sounded so romantic and fun. Watching old movies I have seen people traveling on trains, sleeping in the sleepers, eating luxurious meals on white table cloths in the dining car and singing songs on the train. People in those movies wore suits and dresses and hats and seemed to know exactly how to deport themselves on a train.
Well, it’s the twenty-first century. The train station in Chicago was big and there were long walks carrying our luggage to get to the ticket booth. Thankfully, there were redcaps who put our luggage on carts and took us to the train or we would still be wandering around trying to find it!
People don’t dress up on the train anymore. Shorts, tees and jeans were the usual wear A lot of younger people. I felt overdressed in a nice top and black pants.
Eating on a Train
Breakfast and lunch was on a first come, first served basis. I only ate one breakfast while on the train. You had to make a reservation for dinner. They said we could pick when we wanted to eat, so when the man came around to get our reservation we asked for 5:30. ” Oh, no, you can’t eat then,” He said. “We have 7:30 open.” Well, since we didn’t have a choice we chose 7:30. When your time came they would announce it and you would go to the dining car. A walk through several other cars. You would lunge from left to right walking down the aisles of the Coaches hoping you didn’t fall into someone’s lap. You finally get to the dining car and a very arrogant man with his nose in the air actually snaps his fingers at you and says, “Come, come,” and you run after him where you are sat at a table with complete strangers who are sitting just a few inches away from you. Thankfully, we were sat with a very nice couple and she and I talked to each other while the men ate. They were from south of Columbus, Ohio. The man who waited on us was very nice, but I noticed the man who had snapped his fingers at us(who I started calling “the Jerk”) waited on people like it was the last thing he wanted to do. The whole time we were on the train every time I saw him I would tell David, “There goes the Jerk.” He always seemed to have a smirk on his face. Anyway, I ate three meals in the dining car. One time we ate with two ladies who were from Defiance, Ohio where my older brother lives. They didn’t know him. They also missed their connecting train because our train sat on the tracks for several hours letting freight cars go by. It was one’s first train ride and she said it was going to be her last. I didn’t blame her. But it wasn’t as glamorous eating on a train as I thought it would be. I just kept waiting for Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney to come into the dining car and sing “Snow” from the movie White Christmas.
Taking a Shower on the Train
The shower on the train was just down the aisle from our sleepette. I could not go a whole day without a shower, so I bit the bullet and decided to try it. Our car attendant told me to be sure the door was completely locked as there had been some people startled in the shower because their door was unlocked. I did not want that to happen. I opened the door to the shower and gulped. How was I to take off my clothes, shower and put clothes back on a semi-wet body? It was smaller than any closets I have in my house. A small seat piled with soft, fluffy, white towels, Hm, that was nice. A little basket full of soaps which smelled very good. That was good. So, I carefully locked the door, checked it twice and proceeded to get ready for a shower. Once undressed, I turned on the shower. Cold water. I adjusted the handle. Cold water. Well, I was undressed and really wanted a shower so I took a cold shower. Very quickly. As the train rocked and rolled, so did I in the shower, but I managed to get washed. Then I had to get out and try to towel off as best I could. I kept bumping into things, but finally I was ready to dress. Ever try to dress in a two by two foot space? It’s not easy, but I did it and I did it three times while riding the train. Thankfully my other two showers I had warm water.
Walking on a train
When we took a trip to Alaska on a ferry we learned how to walk on a boat without falling down. Most of the time the ride was pretty smooth and we could walk very easily, but at times the sea was rocking and so were we. People would walk like drunken sailors. Well, on the train, you pretty much walk like that all the time. Lunging back and forth as the train rolled along. We had to go through several cars to get to the snack car where we purchased something to eat when we didn’t want to eat in the dining car or to the lounge car, where we sat and watched the scenery go by. We walked through the coach cars where people who didn’t have sleepettes would be laying across their seats covered up sleeping. I really did not want to fall into one of their laps. You learn to sway with the cars and hold on to anything you can grab to keep yourself upright. When we got off the train, David said his legs were still walking like he was on the train. It took him a day to get his “land legs” back. Same thing happened to him on the ferry. It took him a couple of days to walk right on land. It didn’t bother me at all. I was just glad to get off the train.
Sleeping on a Train
I always thought that sleeping on a train would be so relaxing and fun. To get ready for bed, first we had to pull the two seats together to make a lower bunk and then pull down the upper bunk. Poor David slept in the upper bunk because he can sleep about anywhere. You are given two very thin blankets and pillows with hardly any stuffing in them. We didn’t know you could ask for extra blankets and pillows the first night. We got ready for bed. I wore clothes to bed because the bathroom was down the aisle and I didn’t want strangers seeing me in my pjs. That first night I froze all night. I didn’t know we could turn on a heater. I heard David snoring above me while I tossed and turned. Thankfully, I had my Kindle with me and could read. I watched the stars and just lay there listening to the train wheels clickety clack. I will tell you the second night with extra blankets, the heater turned on and two pillows, I slept very well. Maybe if we had been on the train for a third night I would have slept like a baby. It wasn’t like sleeping on the ferry, though, where I think I slept the best I have ever slept with the boat rocking gently and being in a warm cocoon in my little bunk. It was heaven. Anyway, sleeping on a train was an experience and I hope I haven’t made anyone not want to try it.
This is my last post about our trip. Next, Grandchildren! Bye.