Saturday, July 2, 2011

Seattle Three

Monday was an interesting day full of excitement. We got up and made sure we had everything packed and ready to go as today was the day we started our train adventure. We went for a walk to the Cherry Coffee place near the hotel for Tom to get a latte and to Starbucks for my chai, then hung out in the lobby waiting for Beau and Michelle to arrive. Once they arrived we checked out of the hotel and loaded their car then headed off walking toward Pike's Street in search of The Pink Door Restaurant for lunch.
The door is really more of a peach color, but the restaurant is cool. It has swings and trapeze hanging from the ceiling. Michelle says that at night they have scantily clad young ladies perform on the trapeze and a swings. The art work is cool. There is a mural of a clown mime and a monkey on one wall.
Lunch was very good. After we ordered Michelle remembered that they had forgotten to feed more money into the meter, so Beau went running back to feed the meter. Instead he discovered a ticket on the car for $39, which was much better than the $100 Michelle thought it was going to cost. Beau did not get back until we were done eating as it was several blocks back to where the car was parked. I had a delicious melt in your mouth, meatless lasagna made with spinach noodles. Tom had a salad and grilled asparagus. It was very good also. We enjoyed seeing Michelle and Beau and having lunch with them. On our walk back to the car we stopped at a Crumpets store for Michelle as a friend had told here that they were really good. She bought some to go, they looked delicious.
Next stop the train station. We went in search of it and after going in what felt like circles we found it. We unloaded the car andTom went to the ticket counter only to find out that they had canceled our train on May 31st. No one called us. They said that they had called and talked to someone on June 10th at 8:20 PM. We left our house in Anchorage on June 10th at 7:30 AM to catch our flight to Seattle. Someone screwed up big time, as no one was home in Anchorage.
They cannot get us out on the Empire Builder across the northern states due to flooding and mud slides. I asked about the California Zephyr which goes through Denver and it was closed also due to the flooding moving south. THey said there was a 50-50 chance the northern route would open up in two days, but that would screw up our visit to Rochester. They can put us on a train south to LA to get on the Southwest Chief to Chicago but that only gives us one day or two in Rochester and no sleeper car across to Chicago. After two hours of phone calls and checking things, if we fly to LA tonight we can get out tomorrow on the Southwest Chief, in coach, no sleepers are available. We will only be one day behind schedule when we get to Rochester. The station agent was named Lauren. and he was very patient. I did end up crying at one point out of pure frustration. Michelle and Beau were very patient through out it all. We are ever so grateful that they stayed and waited with us while we were doing all this because otherwise we would never have made it to the airport on time. Amtrak refunded, via mail, the $674 for the loss of our sleeper car. We may or may not have access to plug-ins for our electronics on the train. It is a 43 hour trip cross the country to CHicago, in coach. Tom says to look at it as an adventure, I told him it is like camping under the stars to me. I am not really looking forward to this, but Tom says to look at is like an adventure.
It was funny watching Tom on his phone trying to make flight reservations to LA while talking to the station agent to confirm the flight to LA so we could make the flight. He had to pick a different flight and got the last two seats in first class. It took over two hours to get things straightened out. Some people in line were very patient, but others like this one woman who was down right rude. There was one young girl there who was rerouting her return trip because she knew that the floods would not be gone when she was heading home in a week, as they have no idea when they the routes will reopen. They said it was a 50-50 chance that they would open the empire builder on Thursday, June 16th.
I am not looking forward to riding in coach for three days, when I had planned for a sleeper car. Tom says to view it as an adventure. It will be an adventure for sure, with no bed to sleep in for 43+ hours.
Michelle and Beau drove us to the airport with a stop at Target for another suitcase as we had bought three mini bottles of wine to have on the train. Each one is about two glasses. You can bring your own alcoholic beverages if you are in a sleeper. Michelle and Beau were great and we owe them big time for all their help.
At the airport we did an insanely quick suitcase shift and repack. The airport police gave us some strange looks as we had things strewn all around us on the floor as we moved things around trying to make sure that nothing illegal was in the hand carry, but that we had all the meds in the hand carry. We had to make sure all the liquids were in the checked baggage. It was wild. We checked three bags, and headed to the gate to catch our flight to LAX, with a stop for a chai and a coffee.
The flight to LAX was smooth. They served us a snack of Mac and Cheese. When we arrived in LA we collected our baggage and walked to the USO. It is called the Bob Hope Memorial USO and is the flagship. The USO is for military personnel and their families and we have access to it because Tom is retired Navy.
When we got to the USO we had to shift things around in the suitcases again so we had everything we needed in the hand carry on the train. When we were done we crashed on a couple of couches for a few hours. It was fit full sleep as the one girl who was there snored like a lumberjack and the T.V. was on all night, which was annoying, but it was free.
It was wonderful to take a shower in the morning. I could have spent an hour in there. We had something to eat and hung out for a while. Tom walked over to the terminal and brought me back a chai, which was wonderful. I spent the time downloading pictures to my iPad, as the internet was down.
I met a nice lady from Indiana who was in her 60s. He husband is a retired colonel. She taught in Iceland, at a DOD school and then taught in inner city Cleveland schools. She said she is just an Ohio farm girl. Her son just left for 3 years in Okinawa with his wife, 2 year old, and 9 month old. She was sad as she said she is not sure if she is up to traveling to Okinawa, so will miss her son and his family. I understand as I remember living overseas and not being able to see my grandparents for like six years.
We caught the Fly Away bus at the terminal to Union Station so we could get on the train. It took us a long time to get from the airport to the station. I took pictures of the song,trees, graffiti, highway signs, traffic and us on the bus. I could never live in LA, there are too many people and it is way to crowded. They highway was wall to wall cars. (shaking my head) It is not for me.
We met two nice young men on the bus who were trying to catch a train that was scheduled to depart about five minutes after we were due to arrive at Union Station. They missed the train and had to catch the next one two hours later. They were lucky because usually if you miss a train you have to wait a whole day to catch the next one. They had been trying to fly space available to Guam to visit family, but had no luck for two days and were told it could be several weeks before they got there, and if they got there they could get stuck in Hawaii on the way back as all the flights were booked full for the next few months. They decided they would try another time when it might not be so busy.
We hiked from the bus to the station entrance and Tom took two trips to get the luggage downy the escalator. Then we hiked past all the tracks to get to the station, as the bus drops you off in the back. We were looking for where to check in and check our baggage. Tom lost sight of me when I turned a corner and got in line and he went straight. The next thing I hear is him calling my name, loudly. An Amtrak station attendant was helping him and said he was panicked. Rolland, the am track station attendant was very helpful and nice. He helped us over to the baggage check in and then left Tom there with the checked bags and helped me with the hand carry. He helped me find a seat and told me when and where Tom should get in line to get our seat assignments. Tom was very stressed. Rolland also told me to talk to the conductor about the possibility of getting a sleeper car. He said sometimes there are no shows and if we could upgrade en-route it would be cheaper also. He also told Tom to take good care of me.
I took pictures in the station including ones of a bird that was flying around inside. Tom went for a walk around the station and found us some food and a chai for me. He took some pictures outside the station also.
It was kind of peaceful in the station. You could hear the birds chirping that were in the station. I think they have nests up in the tall ceiling and chandeliers. I talked to a station attendant named Eric, who wanted to know about my henna tattoo. He was also very nice.
The train was delayed so we boarded and departed late. We met a lot of interesting people on the train. We were in car 13, seats 13 and 14. I did talk to the conductor about the chance of getting a sleeper, but no go. The one good thing was that we did have a plug at our seat so we could plug in our electronics and keep them charged.
We left LA, and Tom was looking at houses on his iPhone in Fullerton, CA when we stopped there. I took pictures out the window of the train a long the way.

1 comment:

  1. That sure wasn't a smooth trip. I hope the rest goes totally smooth.

    ReplyDelete

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