Saturday, July 2, 2011

The trip to Rochester

We met some interesting people on the train during our trip. We had dinner on the train, the food was not too bad, and then went back to our seats. I want my bed, because the seats are not that comfortable to sleep in, but they are nice for sitting. I know part of the issue is I am over tired and ticked off that I lost my sleeper, but in all honesty the seats are not that comfortable for sleeping. I am so glad we have a sleeper when we get to Chicago.
I woke up outside Flagstaff, Arizona. We have crossed the Continental Divide and gone through or near Red Rock State Park. We have also passed through Gallup New Mexico. There are a lot of plateaus and black shale is everywhere on the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. There was a lot of sage brush across the area.
I am not sure I could live here as there is not much greenery. It is very brown and beige. I prefer more color in my scenery. (Sorry Karen and my other friends in this area, but it looked kind of dead out there.)
We were rerouted out of Albuquerque due to the fires. We backed up into the station and will go straight east from here for a while. They are busing the people who are headed to Trinidad and La Junta, Colorado, as well as those heading to Raton, New Mexico because of the fires.
We ate breakfast in the dining car and it was not bad, but we have a nazi waitress. I called her the dining car nazi. She was a real piece of work. She told you where to sit, two to a side, and there was not arguing with her.
The train stopped at a red light waiting for a freight train to go through and I saw a cowboy, or at least a guy on a horse with a cowboy hat on. There was nothing out there but wide open spaces and the lone cowboy. It made me think of the old west in the movies. We were southeast of Albuquerque, between Contreras and Mountain Air, New Mexico on our way to Clovis, New Mexico.
We had crossed the Rio Grande River before we got to Albuquerque, and saw the San Andrea Mountains. I thought most of New Mexico on the east after the mountains looked like Kansas, very FLAT! There was one lone tree in the miles of flat land. It looked very lonesome out there by itself.
We saw a few other straggling trees scattered out around the country side. We also saw some interesting rock formations.
Tonight the moon was full, some people said it was a harvest moon because it was very orange in color. It was beautiful to see.
We hung out in the lounge car for a while talking to people and playing rummy, until 1:00 AM. We had a fun time. One of the guys let Tom try some herb saint liqueur, which is like absinthe. It tastes like black licorice, or so I am told. I do not like licorice.
We also tried Dubliner Cheese that Spiro, one of the guys on the train who is of Greek descent from Long Island, had. It was very good. I drank a half bottle of wine, that Tom put in my water bottle.
The train wet through Woodward, Oklahoma and we came into some awesome thunderstorms as we went across the panhandle into Kansas. The lightening was awesome, huge and bright. It lit up the night sky like it was noon. Some of the strikes seemed to be way to close to the train, but they were beautiful to watch.
I went back to coach to get a few hours of sleep. They were stopping in Newton, Kansas in little while to let off the people who had to be bussed to the areas we were rerouted around because of the fires. We headed from there toward Kansas City.
I woke up around La Plata, Missouri. I was woken up by a kid screaming, another reason I prefer a sleeper car. I slept through Kansas City. We passed through Fort Madison, Iowa. The fort is by the river. As we crossed the river we moved into Illinois. It was small town America. The are was lush and green, beautiful and quaint. We saw horses, and quaint old houses that reminded me of my Grandma Wilson's house in Altamont, Illinois.
There was a young kid, Anthony, seated across the aisle from us who was moving from Oregon to Vermont. He is a farrier. A farrier is a "hot" horse maker. He heats the horse shoes and shapes them to fit the horses hooves. It sounds like an interesting job from what he told me. It sounds very old timey, from the old west. He works with the owners of farm and race horses and talked some about the different styles of horse shoes depending on what the horse is used for and also the different types of farriers, hot and cold, and the impact on the horses. Hot shoes are designed to fit a specific horse's hove, while cold shoes are just basic horse shoes that can fit any horse, but are not fitted to their hooves. Cold shoes are often loose or to big as they are not shaped to the horses foot. Anthony had on really cool rope sandals with woven straps, I think it would be cool to make a pair and use old tires for the sole.
We went through Mendota, Illinois. I took some pictures of main street and the water tower, very typical of small town midwest, USA. We also went through Naperville, Illinois. The station was an old building like many in this area of the country.
We arrived in Chicago tired from three days in coach with minimal sleep. At the Chicago Union Station we went to the Metro Lounge which is for sleeping car passengers and they let us check our hand carry bags. Then we met up with two people who we met on the train and found a place to eat. It was a cajun grill, a Chinese fast food joint. They had good food. After we ate Tom and I went for a walk around the station and I found a long African skirt that can also be worn as a dress. Tom said I am the only one he knows who would find something to buy in the train station.
We headed back to the Metro lounge to relax for a while, charge the iPads, and wait to board the train and our sleeper car. We boarded about 8:30 PM. Our sleeper cabin was cute with two single bunks, a toilet, and a sink. There was a wine tasting in the dining car for sleeper car passengers. We had white cheddar, cheddar, blue cheese, red and green grapes and our choice of a red or white wine. Tom and I both had white.
Our neighbors in the sleeping car cabin across the hall were a mother and daughter traveling from Wisconsin to Springfield, Massachusetts. They were taking the train because the mother does not fly.
Our train attendant was very nice. She was named Francine. She put the beds down while we were at the wine tasting. The bed in the sleeper car was not to uncomfortable, though a little on the hard side. I slept well. I was rocked to sleep by the train.

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