Taking the Train Home

April 24, 2018


Even though this was my sixth and final Amtrak leg of this trip, I “achieved” several firsts on it.

The train’s arrival was the first time I experienced a significant delay. It also was the first time I had a scheduled layover of several hours between two trains. It would be my first night in a roomette in a “transition” car that is shared by crewmembers, and it was my first time in an older-style Superliner 1 car. I thought this would be my first train trip through hours of rain, but the forecasted storm held off until we almost reached Dallas.

Every Amtrak crewmember I have met on this journey has worked hard to make sure passengers have a comfortable journey. They proved themselves again my final night when my train from St. Louis to Dallas was running almost two hours late. Despite it being after normal dinner hours, they kept the dining room open for the five of us in sleeping accommodations (and thus with meals included).

I already had an early dinner in St. Louis, so I limited my “meal” to a gin and tonic with a cheesecake chaser. Both couples were heading to Houston; one would depart in Longview for a connecting Amtrak bus and the other would stay on to San Antonio and then connect to the Sunset Limited east to Houston.

By the time I returned to my sleeper my attendant had made my bed in the transition car. I had read about some disadvantages – further from the dining and lounge cars and sometimes with spotty service. On this train there was only one sleeping car between the dining room and my car, so the distance was no problem. And my attendant was as attentive as any. The transition car did live up to its reported advantage of being quiet. It was rare than anyone passed by.

My cabin had an open area to hang a jacket or coat, as opposed to an enclosed tiny closet on a newer car. And the shelves to the side of the bed, which double as stairs to the upper bunk, were more open. Both features made it easier to store then small amount of things I carried with me. The bathroom down the hall included a small shower, while the newer cars have a separate shower downstairs. Or that could be a difference in a regular sleeper and a transition car. Either way it didn’t matter to me, as I’ll shower at home later today.

At breakfast I sat with a woman who travels the rails quite frequently, despite being retired with flying privileges from an airline. She has taken most of the routes throughout the west several times. She also is active, as I have become, in a Facebook group for Amtrak fans. It’s a great place to learn a lot about Amtrak travel.

Once again, I slept as the train passed through my father’s hometown of Newport, Ark. (too small for a stop). When we passed through Hope, Ark., the conductor pointed out Bill Clinton’s home, which was not the brick house with the sign, but the white house behind it.

img_3981Two and half weeks after leaving from Dallas Union Station, I had returned. I took the DART light rail train to my suburb of Plano, where it was much cheaper to catch an Uber back home.

I’ll summarize the trip in a later blog. I hope you have enjoyed going along on this “land cruise.”