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the train was two hours late until we got to Auburn and encountered a broken switch which took half an hour to determine that it was not fixable and that we needed to switch tracks and go around it but first we had to wait for a freight train to pass to altogether that took another hour.

I was like "ho-hum" but there were frantic calls from train car attendants asking for a conductor to come to their car so I think maybe the other passengers were not as sanguine about this final delay as I was. of course I was stopping in Seattle; the poor slobs going to Vancouver BC had another two hours on a bus to look forward to once we got to the station.

the main problem was that no one told us what was going on until we'd been sitting there for about twenty minutes. a seasoned train rider will take this in stride: if they're not evacuating the train or on the intercom talking about the busses we will all be herded onto shortly everything is ok. slow, perhaps, but ok. but on every trip you will find passengers who think that a three to four hour delay is outrageous on a 1300-mile passenger train route. which perhaps it would be if we were in Europe where people actually pay to keep passenger rail running, but we don't do that here, so Amtrak gets by on the scraps of "service" it can scrape together from the goodwill of the freight companies that own the tracks.

one thing about soaring gasonline costs is that alternative transportation just might begin to look worth some shifts in spending philosophy. maybe one day we'll have a national passenger rail network that runs on time and with less flaky customer service.

I spent most of the trip either sleeping or plurking. see this is what's cool about plurk: you can have threaded conversations with your buddies in real time on your cell phone. multi-person conversations. it's like IRC with just the slightest delay and without servers that split off the network so that you are suddenly talking to yourself. so after my post-lunch nap I conversed with zyrc and a number of other people whom I don't know from adam but whom zyrc apparently knows.

so now I am here and it is not raining although it rained a little yesterday they tell me and of course that was my fault. because not only can I keep disasters from happening if I stay at home in San Francisco, but I can make it rain in Seattle simply by traveling here. I'm telling you it's stressful having so much power.

ok. the pills are done melting under my tongue so I think that lisagail and I are going to have a real life conversation! I know. weird.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
I was quite the train traveler in the late 80s and early 90s. In fact, in 1990 I moved from Michigan to Seattle by Amtrack (having shipped most of my goods by UPS and the post office). Some rides were more fun than others, and delays were part of the program. The most frustrating delay is on the west-to-east Empire Builder, which typically gets to Chicago about 12 hours late, which makes smooth connections to trains elsewhere just about impossible. Still, and even without cellphones or laptops, it gave me a lot to write home about (albeit after the fact)!
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
I love the train. while in grad school and receiving financial aid, I took several trips to Chicago, one to Baltimore, and rode the grand triangle from SF to Chicago (Zephyr) to Seattle (Empire Builder) and back to SF (Coast Starlight) as a reward for passing my qualifying exams.

it was very cool. I wish I could afford to take sleepers all the time since riding in coach alone is not optimal for a militant introvert. if I could get a friend to come with me, it wouldn't be such a big deal, since those seats are actually pretty easy to sleep in.

I used to write like mad on the train but now that one can access the internet I wonder if that is one more writing venue lost to the information age.
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
train travel
My partner and I would love to take a long train trip with sleeper access. I've only ridden coach. Yeah, the seats are fairly comfortable, but sleeping next to a stranger isn't always!
Aug. 10th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
good to hear that it all worked out - sort of......;-)
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
I got here, at least. that's what counts. amtrak always gets you there; sometimes it takes a little longer and sometimes they put you on a bus, but they always get you there. you just can't be running under a tight deadline. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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