Posts tagged Sunset Limited westbound
Posts tagged Sunset Limited westbound
The Ghost Train
After the majority of coach passengers elected to continue the trip by buses provided by Amtrak, the few remaining were upgraded to empty rooms in the sleeper cars. By the time we were underway again on February 8, 2012, at 1p. we had some 27 passengers in two sleeper cars and the three empty coach cars pictured here.
The cars were located behind the lounge or observation car and when I discovered that the restroom in the lounge car was closed, I used the one in this car, the closest restroom to the observation car. That was a mistake. The car stewart cleaning the coach cars read me the riot act on how this area is off-limits! Suddenly, I am in the army? In my defense, and to avoid being sent to the Captain’s office, I reported that the restroom in the lounge is closed. ”You have several restrooms in the sleeping cars,” he said in a tone that his personal frustrations with the delay leaked out all over his clean coach cars.
Soon afterwards, it was announced that the cars are closed for cleaning and “off-limits.” From then on we referred to ourselves as being on the ”the ghost train!”
No Water in Car 103
Somewhere on our way to Yuma, Arizona, I was capturing fields of large rectangular blocks of harvested cotton (according to John), when it was announced that Car 103 had run out of water and the rest rooms would be closed! Give it a listen in official Amtrak speak, (that’s John at the table).
Two hour wait at Maricopa, Arizona, Thursday, February 9, 2012
First the rumor was that we were waiting for new engineer and conductors … then it was announced on the intercom that we are waiting for the work crews ahead to clear the track. Since leaving San Antonio nearly 30 hours late on Wednesday, this train is no longer on the schedule and we should expect waiting for freight traffic. Here’s how the conductor put it over the intercom upon our first delay on Wednesday, soon after starting out:
“Going to be a lot of freight trains out here today folks, better get use to it!”
Can you imagine a pilot telling his passengers to “get use to” rough air?
On the other side of the coin, the station agent at Maricopa, Bob, was a gem of Amtrak lore based on his 35 years service. He remembered when the Superliners were first placed in service in 1978 — state of art train travel, but now are out of date, according to Bob. With the political picture for Amtrak funding grim, improvements are not on the horizon. And the cars are showing wear and lack of care … years of stains and crud in the corners.
Enough rail ranting — checkout Maricopal -
Refueling at Tucson, Arizona, Thursday morning, February 9, 2012
Tucson at dawn on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 7:15
Note the full moon that followed along outside my window all night long.
With Nica at dinner on Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Nica’s home is in Boston and she travelled by train to Florida to visit a cousin, than on to New Orleans to look up another cousin, and is now on her way to catch the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles for a trip to Portland, OR for a conference. Then she will return home by train! Talk about “training time!”
I quizzed Nica Thursday durning our stop in Maricopa, AZ, how is it for a woman travelling alone, and Nica reported no problems. Like me, she is marking a significant birthday, (in her case, 51) with a grand train journey. She considers travelling by train to be a retreat, just as I do.
Having the sleeping car room is essential of course. It’s like a monk’s cell, I imagine, and I can sit for hours watching the land and small towns go by with a surprisingly empty mind that allows thoughts to come and go, like the view out the window.
Wayne and Joyce from Chaska, Minnesota
Wayne is ready with the answer when I ask him about the suspenders, and it’s not any where near what I expected. He is using the wide, comfortable suspenders to hold up a colostomy bag — the result of three operations for colon cancer. At one point, not sure of the timing, he was told to arrange hospice care! Didn’t need it. Since then he has stopped chemo treatments. Both he and Joyce are following a diet based on blood type — this, they say, is the reason Wayne is still alve, and on a train trip today.
And yes, Wayne did work as a carpenter.
Site of the derailment near Del Rio, Texas.
It took five and a half hours to reach the site of the derailment from San Antonio, and I was still not ready with the iPad camera! Clip is of the tail end of the scene that spread out on both sides of the track with cars on their sides, foam spray covering some, and a pile of train car axels.
Back home, I found this news footage of the site, along with an article containing more details, but still no report on the cause of the accident.
Richard and Kathy at lunch Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Kathy’s husband is coming from Del Rio to pick her up, it’s about three hours away. They moved to Del Rio, Texas, from the Seattle area some dozen years ago and would love to return to the northwest.
Richard had a cochlear implant 13 years ago on the Veteran’s Administration’s dime due to a service related injury and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. He worked for TWA as a mechanic, wearing hearing aids, until it was sold. His wife died three years ago and his current goal is to travel on every Amtrak route — seems I didn’t ask how he was doing with that goal.
My excuse is that I was totally absorbed in his story of his brother who was a high ranking member of the German American Bund organization that promoted a favorable view of Nazi Germany. Richard remembers his German born father taking both of the boys to rallys in the late 30s in the Brooklyn area — the banners, flags and crowds made quite an impression on Richard. But for his brother it resulted in a call to action. He was eventually arrested for acts of sabotage and given the opportunity to turn counter spy that he accepted and went on to help expose the east coast operation.
A totally charming and friendly man, celebrating 81 years. I send out wishes for safe travels to Richard.
On the Huey P. Long Bridge, Monday, February 6, 2012
Video includes dinning car welcome and how to make reservations for lunch.