* This is a repost for my pal, Mighty Mom. I had posted it briefly about a month ago, then took it off because I wanted to spend some time editing it. But... Time? What time? Haven't had any.... So.. Anyway, here it is again - undedited -- for anyone else who might want to read more than they ever wanted to know about train travel!
From the end of February, 2011: I mentioned I had some pictures -- and a little gossip -- from my latest train ride over the mountains a couple weeks ago, so if you're all set to come along with me... Here we go!
First a view of the inside of my train car:
|On the way out of Denver, heading west, the train passes the "Big 10 Curve.” Winds can be so strong here that" hopper cars," welded to the rails and filled with sand, sit on an adjacent track to act as a windbreak.|
Here's something that was annoying, though. On my last trip there was a college-age young man who talked to his mother on the cell phone -- incessently. And loudly. And the discussions -- every one of them -- were whiny and obnoxious. I wanted to turn around and slap the kid. It seems his estranged father owed him some kind of "child support" money to help ease his way in college and he hadn't received the check. He wanted his mother to get ahold of his dad, her ex-husband, and make him send money. She wanted him to take care of it, himself. You should have heard his end of the debate. (Heaven knows the whole train heard it!) The kid was even pulling out the alligator tears to twist his mother's arm. And then he'd instantly switch gears and yell at her! Every couple of hours the whole long ride, either he called her to whine, or his mother called him to complain. I could have choked that boy! And then reached into his cell phone and choked his mother! Argh.
|Rounding corner after corner, the Zephyr climbs into the mountains, passing through countless little tunnels, then reaching the Continental Divide, it passes over to the western side through 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel.|
|All the rivers and lakes are still frozen solid in the high country.|
Fact Joke: The entire California Zephyr trip from Chicago to California is listed as taking 51 hours and 20 minutes. Maybe possible. (But probably not.)
I've never taken a train trip that both arrived and left on time. This last trip, we were delayed two hours getting out of Denver because of a death on the train. (I never did find out any more about that.... Like, was there foul play? Any scary suspense music in the background when the conductor came across the corpse? Was Jessica Fletcher on board?) But, anyway, other than the occasional untoward event, there are always strange, unscheduled little stoppages. They're expected.
This last trip, along with the late start, we had an hour's delay near Rollins Pass while we waited for some other train to pass by before we could continue. But, what the hey? It's all in a day's train travel. I've never heard grumbling or whining among the passengers about delays; folks that sign on to ride the train know what they're in for... And anyone who knows anything about trains has plenty of reading material, sodukus, crossword puzzles, knitting, etc...All that and most everyone brings a good relaxed attitude.
|Check out the cool effect of the skier jumping behind the netting. Click to enlarge if it's hard to see. See her pigtails flying? :)|
|This looks like a lake, but it's actually a very large field of snow.|
|Granby, Colorado, I think.|
Interesting Fact: A coach class ticket (purchased now to travel tomorrow) from Denver, CO to Emeryville, CA -- one way -- runs $245 -- and takes 33 hours and five minues (give or take a few hours...).
It's another $261 for a "roomette" which features two single bed, bunk style, two reclining chairs, and no bathroom, but meals are included -- along with a daily paper. A "superliner" room features a bunk with a full lower, a large couch and complete bathroom with a shower and all meals included and delivered. For $707.
For the full trip, from Chicago, IL to Emeryville, CA, coach, you'd pay only $292! For a superliner room, it'd be another $1433. A bargain, huh?
|Mountains and snow. Passed lots and lots of mountains and snow.|
|And cows. Lots of cows in Colorado.|
Smoking, of course, is not permitted on the train, so whenever it's time for a station stop (which is about three times, I think, between Denver and Grand Junction), all the smokers stampede for the doors to stand on the platform and smoke. They are warned continuously, via the loudspeaker, not to light up on board, and are re-warned when they get back on after station stops to not bring their cigarettes back on the train with them. Once, when we were stopped on top of the mountain for over an hour for no apparent reason, it was obvious that some smoker's nicotine withdrawal had gotten the best of him, as the distinct smell of cigarette smoke wafted up to the upper cars through the stairwell outside the bathroom down below.
Everyone looked at each other and smiled knowingly and there was some laughing and giggling, because we all knew who the culprit was... There was a gentleman with a long braided ponytail and a duster coat who'd gotten on in Denver when I did. He was a very pleasant, "down home" kind of guy, with a two-pack a day habit -- one of the ones that barreled down the aisles whenever the train came to a full stop so he could puff down a cigarette or two while he had a chance. Having been several hours between stops, there was no question in our minds who was in the bathroom sneaking a smoke. And, well, I guess it was no surprise, a train being a very small space, that the conductor "got wind" of the smoke too. It wasn't long before we all heard an impatient voice over the loud speaker: "There is to be NO smoking on board the train! Anyone who is smoking will be removed from the train. Right here. Right now!"
(Remember, we were in the wilderness on top of a mountain)
"And we know who you are!"
About this time the pleasant, ponytailed gentleman came sauntering up the stairs. Smoke still hung about him. He started to head to the frontof the car toward his seat, but when he heard the snickering behind him, he turned around toward us and affected a very elaborate bow. Everyone applauded.
Not that I condone smoking, mind you. On the contrary. But, I have to admit I admired the twinkle in "Ponytail's" eye. And it was a distraction we all appreciated.
|God is a wonderful landscape artist. I should say He is thee Landscape Artist.|