As some of you know I have family out in NY and we always go out there to visit them. In past years we had gone the plane route since it afforded us more time at our destination, however, recent years wound up taking as long - if not longer than a train or driving would have taken us. One year in particular took us THIRTY HOURS to make the trip that should have been a FOUR HOUR flight.
Forget that the plane is cramped and likes to treat you as a terrorist. Forget that should you want to take 3 tubes of paint to work on your dollhouse that they trash it on you. Forget that the bags that you spent 3 hours the night before packing just right so eveything fits and isn't damaged are opened and removed article by article. Forget that the plane throws your bags around like yesterday's garbage, then rips, tears or breaks them and tells you it's your responsibilty to fix or replace them. Forget that you can't pack anything you care about in said bags due to damaging the item (or worse yet having the bag lost on another plane.) Forget that they charge our 5 year old the same price to fly as they charge us, and forget that if your plane is delayed (which they don't tell you until you are at your gate) you can't visit with family during that delay. Yes, we are tired of it all.
This year we decided to try the train for our traveling needs. The train did not paw through our bags, and they seem to realize something the planes don't: Children should not pay the same fare as an adult!
We were a bit late on the way out, but not much. Just about a 20 minute delay compared to the plane's delay of at least an hour each time. We hopped on our train and made the 5 hour drive to Chicago where we had our only overlay. We were plesantly surprised by how comfortable and roomy the seats were. We did not buy a sleeper car (it was $300 PER way for a car that was too small for the 3 of us, so we passed.) We would be sleeping on the car in our seats that night.
Gideon loved seeing horses, trucks and several construction vehicles along the way. He yelled out the cars and construction trucks by name one by one.
Here he is near Milwaukee, WI looking at a construction vehicle. I should ask him to come here and ID it for me, but he's busy watching his favorite TV show at the moment.
Okay, so the overlay in Chicago was a long one (six hours!) but Clint's friend was able to meet us there and spend the time visiting. Something that the planes would never have allowed. The Chicago train depot was overflowing with people and loud horns sounding from the cargo carriers. Gideon was NOT happy. The horns and cargo carriers scared him. So, we sat down and waited where we were. Gideon took in a few cat naps and was all happy when it was time go grab a bite to eat.
When our overlay was over we boarded the train with ease (though I have one major complaint that carrying 6 bags between 2 people and walking a mile to the train really doesn't mix well!) and got settled in for the last half of our journey.
The mobility the train gives you is a welcomed change from the stay in your seat orders on the plane. You are free to walk car-to-car as often as you want any time you want. There's even a snack car and dining car available. The prices are a bit hefty ($14-$22 a plate for dinner, and a little pricy on the snacks, too) but they aren't too bad. To offset this cost you ARE allowed to bring your own food and drink onboard, unlike the plane. *Ahem*
The train's scenic view was a welcome change, and the lounge car is one fun place to spend some time. The floor to roof windows offer a bright, cheery view of the landscape as you pass by.
The train's rocking motion takes a bit of getting used to, but soon becomes something that you don't mind so much. It even somewhat has a sleepy quality about it, though the rocking motion sticks with you for hours after you have exited the train, lol. The trains in the opposite direction next to you also offer a sort of sleepy quality about them as your eyes try to follow the cars and soon tire of the impossible task.
We stopped by the Cleveland Stadium. If I was a football fan I bet I would have been excited to see that, but alas I'm not. Cleveland has another 'attraction' to it for me: My aunt and cousins are from there.
Onward we went into the wee hours of the morning. Gideon was far too excited to stop and sleep no way, no how! So, while everyone on the train tried to sleep we played. What did we play? Well, M&M Sculptures, of course! You can click here to see another essay about these sculptures. Eventually Gideon did fall asleep, and I snuggled in to try to sleep myself. Just as I felt the least bit sleepy a loud snore erupted from in front of us. Just the luck! By the time the snores relented Gideon was awake and ready to play some more, once again just the luck, lol.
We got to Erie, PA where there was an hour delay while Border Patrol went through each car asking everyone one at a time if they were a US Citizen. Later that night I learned there was a prison break in New Jersey and one of the escapees was not a legal citizen. I am sure they were looking for him as they were heard at the back of the train saying "You know what he looks like?"
After that was done onward we were to our destination. We were a bit late, but not too bad considering the hold up in Erie.
The train ride back was a sadder one, as leaving is always a solemn task. We left the station hurriedly unsure where we were going and never got to say a proper goodbye to family.
On we went until we were notified there was an emergency with the train ahead of us and we could not pass them. We simply had to wait right there until that train moved. Whatever this mystery emergency was they never said, and it took an hour until we were moving again. The rest of the trip was normal and according to plan.
The scenery in Milwaukee was beautiful and we took the time to go to the lounge and to watch and take photos there. Here are a few shots I took from there. Look at the beautiful Winter Winderland that greeted us:
We arrived back home, tired and exhausted. Overall the trip was far better than if we flew. There's one big difference between the train and the plane, and it's not the travel length. The train is geared to making your trip enjoyable and as comfortable as possible. The plane is all about making things "safe" and in the process making it miserable to travel. The train is safe, too, you just don't get the hassle you get on the planes.
Gideon looking out at the scenery along the way. I decided to try shooting in different modes on the new camera.
We hope to make another trip out to NY by train in the Spring. All monies earned here on Gather will go tward making this a reality. :) Thanks for reading and coming along on the train with us!