Monday, September 22, 2014

All Aboard!

In front of sleeping car
In front of our train car
Two weeks ago, I was able to get away and take a mini-vacation.

My (now) 12yo wanted to spend her birthday in New Hampshire. So three weeks ago, we put her on a plane and sent her out to New Hampshire.

Don't worry, my in-laws live there and picked her up when she deplaned. She got to spend a week with graham and pop all by herself. Three years ago, at a similar age, our oldest daughter went out and did a similar thing for two weeks. So, technically, we were just keeping up the tradition!

Right side of Amtrak Roomette
right side of the room
She had a great week with them all to herself. I suppose, she got to pretend to be an only child while in the care of grandparents who thoroughly spoiled her (as it should be!) which was fabulous for her.

I wasn't opposed to her being out there for two weeks alone, except the second week was when her birthday hit. And I didn't want to be away from her for her birthday. I'm not ready to cut the cord that much yet!

So late Friday night, the 8yo and I headed into the city and boarded an Amtrak train headed for Boston. {The husband had to work and the 14yo had school so they had to stay behind.}

We do this because a) I dislike flying. A lot. No, scratch that, I hate flying with every fiber of my being and b) we enjoy taking the train. This is not our first train trip and I hope it won't be out last!

Chicago River outside Amtrak windowLeaving from a big station like Chicago, means we get to check any luggage we want, but we also brought one small suitcase on the train. Not all stations are big enough to have the staff/space to do checked luggage.

We splurged this trip and got a roomette. We've ridden in coach before. It's not bad, but it's not as good as getting a room. Plus, when we get a room, our meals are included in the price (they are not in coach seating - you pay when you eat like a restaurant). The roomette is the smaller of the rooms available on the train we were on. But with just the two of us, the smaller room was the perfect size!

Amtrak roomette bunk bed
bunk bed down!
Our train left right on time at 9:30. Mister Man and I hung out for a little bit. We came well equipped with a book each, tablets, a ds, a few toys for him, and some knitting for me. When we were ready for bed, we had the attendant pull down the bunk bed so we could get some sleep.

It's kind of peaceful sleeping on the train. I suppose it must be similar to why babies like to be rocked to sleep? Some parts of the track are bumpy, but it wasn't bad at all! We both slept for quite a while (though I stayed up knitting and watching some videos and just enjoyed the peace and rhythmic rocking).

In the morning we went off to the dining car to get some breakfast. The dining cars are community seating - each table has 4 seats. They will fill the 4 seats up - so if you are traveling as a pair, you can get another pair (or single rider) at your table. Most people who ride the train are pretty friendly and will chat with you, and it's kind of fun to get to meet someone new! We arrived right before breakfast ended, so we sat alone. But we also learned at breakfast the train was running late due to a slow-moving freight in front of us. {As a side note: the train also has a cafe car on it, which has soda, snacks, simple foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, so you can get food on the train without needing to sit down for a full meal!}

We went back to the room and played some games, watched some Dino Dan (a show my son is in LOVE with), and spent time just looking out the window. It's really pretty to watch America go by the train window! We also kept pulling up google maps on my phone so we could see exactly where we were. Mister Man had fun seeing where we were and how far from home we had made it!

Lunch on Amtrak train
our lunch!
This is how most of our day was spent - hanging out, lunch, hanging out. Just before dinner time, we got into the Albany, NY station. This stop is kind of a special stop for the Chicago/Boston run. Because the Chicago/Boston run is also the Chicago/New York City run. From Chicago to Albany, it's one train. At the Albany station, they actually split the train into two trains. One to New York City, one to Boston. We didn't get to watch the trains split, but we did watch our train get the new engine hooked up to it. It was kind of fun!

Amtrak train at Albany StationThen it was back for dinner (which was a bit late). We got back to the room, did one episode of Dinosaur Dan and the 8 year old was tired. I told him to go to sleep. We were supposed to arrive in Boston at about 9:10, but I knew we were running late. I figured better to let him sleep and wake him up than to keep him awake and make him overtired tomorrow. I sat and got a bunch of knitting and reading done! I managed to finish my first vacation read (which isn't too impressive because I brought light, easy, quick reads!).

View outside Amtrak window
view outside Amtrak window
Finally, at about 1:15am, our train pulled into Boston (and yes, for those keeping track that 27 hours on a train factoring in the time change). I won't lie, I was pretty exhausted by this time and not happy about getting in so late. I wasn't quite mad either - there can always be delays when traveling: planes take off late, get rerouted, traffic jams on highways, etc - it was just so late at night and I was tired!

That said, overall, I loved our train trip. It's relaxing (okay, maybe not 100% when it's late). On the way home, it's kind of like a mini-vacation - you can't cook or clean or do laundry yet. You just get to hang out and read, play games, knit, watch videos, chat with the kids.

Brain QuestOn the way home, it was Mister Man, Miss M and me. We had a lot of fun asking questions from a set of Brain Quest questions, in addition to all the other stuff we brought with! It was some good bonding time.

I highly recommend a train trip or two. I know, I know it takes longer than flying. And sometimes it can even take a bit longer, but it's so worth it!

View outside Amtrak window
View outside Amtrak window
PS - this post was not sponsored by Amtrak or anyone. That said, if they ever want to send me somewhere, I'll gladly go. I hope to someday take the train out of Chicago and go to New York City when it splits! ;-)    

1 comment:

  1. I went to Buffalo, NY to see the Goo Goo Dolls play by train and our train split in Albany also, but I'm not sure where the rest of the train was going.

    I love the train, I'd love to travel the country by train. I'd especially like to do Alaska by train.


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)