Monica Whaley

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Train Trip Talk

Posted on March 7, 2015 at 2:25 PM

My mother and I boarded a train at 5:45 am in Toledo, Ohio. We were traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico to see family. I have never been on a train cross-country, so I was pretty excited. Some questioned the loss of time with family going by train rather than plane. However, we don't really have the money for plane tickets. More importantly, the train trip is part of the vacation. There is more room. you can get up and move around, you can watch the scenery, and you have time to do some things you don't normally do (like writing blogs). So far, the experience was great. The only bummer is that the 2nd leg of the journey (24 straight hours) and THERE WAS NO WI-FI! That might drive me nuts, but we did bring plenty to do.

Mom brought a book and crochet, which is all she needs. I brought my phone, camera, magazines, and iPad. The iPad has more magazines, books, games, and ways to write (obviously). What sucks is that because there’s no Wi-Fi, I don’t have access to my novels, which I was going to work on. On the way back, I will be sure to save the info on the pad itself. I’ve listened to music, slept, and watched a little Netflix (on my phone). Not too bad. 

Some things I learned:

  • DON’T RIDE IN THE LAST CAR! It was like being on a plane for 24 hours in constant turbulence. Shaking, rocking, lurching, etc. I don’t see how this is possible, as we were on straight, smooth rails, but there you go.
  • Make sure to bring plenty of liquids to drink. You can get drinks on the train, but everything was closed overnight. Bring it or stock up before they close. We brought a lot of food, but we did run out at some point. The dining car is expensive, but we wanted to have at least one meal there.
  • It was dry in recycled air, so bring lotion, allergy medication, etc. My poor mom has been coughing her life away for the last 5 hours.
  • Typical travel things are necessary for your carry-on, i.e. toothbrush, make-up, deodorant, etc. I’ve found it VERY useful to have wipes to clean hands, self, surfaces, etc.
  • A co-worker suggested a blanket, saying it was often cold. I had the opposite experience on the way out. Maybe it’s just the seats we’re in because plenty of other passengers were using blankets. I was HOT. Now, those who know me may say that’s not a big deal, as I’m always hot, but my mom was, too.

Things I enjoyed:

  • There is so much more room per seat than a plane or car! In fact, there are trays in front of you that have to extend to get them close to you. Not only that, but you can get up and walk around as much as you want.
  • The lady in the café is SUPER nice. I know her job is customer service, but we all know that that has all but disappeared today. She was much nicer than she needed to be to be proficient in her job. I gave her a big tip.
  • The seats lean WAY back, which is awesome. It’s not flat or anything, but certainly further back than on a plane.


Things I’ve noticed: 

  • I have never seen so many Amish on any other form of transportation; waiting for trains, on this train, getting off of others. It makes me wonder if that is their preferred method of travel. I almost said something to one of them in Pennsylvania Dutch, but I was afraid they’d think I knew more.


If you’ve never been on a train before, like me, you may not know that if you eat in the dining car, you sit with people you don’t know if your table isn’t full. My mom and I sat with a VERY interesting man named Steve. He was about my mom’s age, traveling home from a business trip. He works in the federal government in the national archives. Kind of cool.

After the initial pleasantries, we really got into some seriously good conversation. So much so, that the waitress asked us to continue our conversation in the lounge car because she needed the table. We tried to do just that, but there weren’t three seats together. I was going to let them talk and go back to our seat, but they decided to come back, too. So he just sat across the aisle till those passengers came back from lunch. He shared that he’d been diagnosed at one time as schizoid and having depression, bipolar disorder, and eventually Asperger’s. I don’t know if all or some of those were misdiagnoses, but he said since he started lysine supplements 5 years ago, he doesn’t have any symptoms of any of those conditions. It warrants further investigation for me and others I know. I’ll be reading some research papers in the near future. We also talked about neurofeedback, grad school, psychology, medicine, his wise wife, education, pharmaceuticals, and other subjects. It was a full and pleasant two and half hours.

BTW, we were almost to Albuquerque before we figured out how to lower the foot rest and that there are also leg rests. Sheesh. At least we know for the return trip.


Categories: miscellaneous

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