Thursday, July 30, 2009

And... We're home!

Plane, train, automobile.

There. I've been itching to say it and I finally gave in.

I slept not a moment of the night before I left, too wound up. I printed my boarding pass at home, hit the ATM (not like that) at 4:52am, was dropped off at the airport to negotiate an exceedingly easy security line, and even had time to use my little giftcard at Starbucks before piling on to the plane. Whereupon I slept in spurts, enough to drool, so attractively.

We landed a couple of minutes early -- the air temp here was 75 when I got to the airport, 66 when I landed there. Weird. I grabbed my stuff and hauled my tail out to the curb ASAP and spotted my guardian angels/driving friends literally as I walked through the door. I threw my stuff in and we were off.

After having some serious beyond-the-call-of-duty help from several really kind Amtrak employees, we got our big bags checked and boarded the train. To wait for another one to arrive so that train could make it's connections. Oy.

The kids were exhausted too, so almost as soon as we were all given seats (more thanks to those hard-working Amtrak guys), we were snuggled down in our pillows and blankies (which were shipped ahead so I wouldn't have to check bags on the flight), and out cold. Something about the rocking of the train? The level of exhaustion all around? We managed snacks and little spurts of entertainment, but kept falling asleep, curled into our reclining seats.

So now that we have all that for experience, here are my hot tips for train travel. Do take your own pillows and blankies. It got chilly on board and you'll need the extra padding. Do take snack stuff, especially some higher protein items (helps avoid those melt-downs). We ate most of the stuff I sent ahead and could have used more. In fact, if you're going to be on a train for enough time, really, do get sleeper accommodations. I believe meals come with those tickets, a fact which in this case would have allowed the sleeper accommodations to have paid for themselves. No kidding. And they come with access to the on board theater, sweet stuff, and daily local wine tasting with artisan cheeses on the side. All free. Oh -- and! The Parlour Car. A refurbished old car in which only those with Sleeper tickets are allowed to eat, ordering from an "alternative menu" and whatever else they do in there. Funny -- makes me think of that show, what was it. Wild, Wild West? The Parlour Car seems to be from about the same era.

The kids did well. E and K watched the sun rise over a snow-capped mountain, we followed bodies of water and played guessing games about them, we started reading "Twenty One Balloons" (love that book), and played some Uno and Skip-bo. G was such a super help, offering to run through the five cars between us and the snack area to grab whatever, taking my cell and various sisters' DSis to the limited plugs for charging. They were all troopers, and kind and helpful to other passengers. Which was noticed and commented upon by train staff and passengers. "Your children are extremely well-mannered." Is there anything that can warm the cockles of a mama's heart better than that? I'll leave you to ponder that as I prepare to sign off. The room seems to be moving rhythmically and I hear click-clacking of wheels on rails...

And Q is restless again. But it's down to 82 inside so far tonight, with second story window/fan combinations running for all they're worth. It was, according to reports, 113 here today. Right here, in our little town. Tomorrow is forecast to be the same temperatures for surrounding communities as it was today, so we'll be going right from appointments to the library. Or the grocery store, whatever. AC is good and then we'll have packing to do. I think everyone else might finally be asleep, with wet heads, train gunk showered off.

What a wild couple of days it's been. We saw deer, several, at different times, hawks and falcons, pelicans of different colors, egrets, herons -- including one I've yet to identify, otters, sea lions, mergansers, Canada geese, a swan, several snowy volcanoes, lots and lots of water, trees of all kinds. We saw several junk yards, some of the poorest neighborhoods and the biggest houses. Next to the rails were growing grapes, artichokes, cabbages, spinach, lettuces, blackberries, corn. So cool.

We're wiped out. At least until morning.


No comments: