Ridin’ in style

Train

OMG…

AGMA’s on yet another domestic trip. This is getting ridiculous.

The cats are going to give me the cold shoulder again when I get home. And probably cough a hairball up in the middle of the night on the bathroom floor for extra measure.

Right now I’m on the Missouri River Runner train from Kansas City to St. Louis. I’m almost 1.5 hours into the trip and I have yet to see a river. Could I get a refund for misleading advertising?

I considered going Greyhound, but it’s so much better on the train. So. Much. Better.

Like Sheldon Cooper, I love trains. Not so much for the the train cars or engines like Dr. Cooper, but for the comfort. And for AGMA, it’s important that my bottom (and the rest of me) be in a soft, roomy seat with opportunities to roam.

Aside from a huge comfy seat with lots of leg room, there’s a delightful cafe car with drinks and munchies, sort of a real bathroom, WiFi, and plugs for my various electronic devices. It’s just like home.

With no hairballs.

Plus, I get this weird thrill that courses through my body every time the conductor blows the whistle.

Does that happen to anybody else?

My mother took my sister and I from Pittsburgh to Miami Beach, about 1200 miles, on the train when I was a girl. It was probably 1961 or 1962. I don’t remember much about it other than I think I was pretty bored. Of course I was – there was no WiFi or Candy Crush Saga. And I remember getting sick with some sort of virus. I was sick for a few days after we got to Miami.

We ended up flying home.

So all in all, not a stella start for AGMA and trains.

But I’ve grown to appreciate trains in my adult life. Hubs and I have taken many a train in Europe. So quick and easy and relatively inexpensive. Europe’s extensive train system makes it incredibly convenient to get most anywhere you want to go. You can even use it as a money saving strategy by taking night trains on longer trips to save on hotel costs.

AGMA has never done this. She likes to move her bottom into a real bed a night.

Passenger trains in the U.S. – not so quick and easy. Sadly. Where you have the choice of 28 different train times in a day going from Frankfurt to Paris – 12 of which are direct- you have a choice of 3 trains from Kansas City to St. Louis. And none are direct.

Hubs and I did Frankfurt to Paris direct in December and it took less than 4 hours to cover about 300 miles. My ride today is going to take nearly 6 hours and covers around 250 miles. And that’s assuming the River Runner doesn’t have to “give way” to a freight train. Then it could take longer.

Because our rail lines in the U.S. are used primarily for the transport of lucrative freight, passenger trains get relegated to 2nd class. And passenger trains mostly run on private tracks owned by freight companies.   So when there are two trains competing for one rail, the freight train always wins.

Always.

I learned this when we lived in St. Louis and would take the train to Chicago or visa versa. A 5 hour trip could become a 7 or 8 hour trip depending on how many freight trains were on the tracks. Our train would pull over on a side track and stop to let the freight trains use the tracks. Sometimes we’d sit for 45 minutes at a time.

No fair.

But I get that freight is king over poor little subsidized Amtrak. But that doesn’t stop AGMA from taking the train whenever she can.

And now I can get the senior fare. Cha-ching!

So for $25, my bottom and I can ride in grand comfort from Kansas City to St. Louis getting caught up on AGMA and my WordPress family, eating reheated White Castles from the cafe car, and letting the gentle rocking of the train and melodic engine whistle lull me into a serene hypnotic state.

Life is good on the train.

But I still haven’t seen a river.

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38 thoughts on “Ridin’ in style

    • I actually saw the river about 30 min ago! Yeah! And no freight trains so we’re actually going to get into St. Louis early. Wow!

      I bet you miss the trains! When your used to being able to go virtually everywhere on a train, it’s got to be hard to adjusting to not having that convenience. I know the US is large and it makes more sense to go the long distances in airplanes, but I think we could have far more robust regional train systems. Just my 2 cents…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hubs and I have “Take a train trip” on Our List! So tell me…is wine involved? Can I get a glass on this train of yours? Just wonderin’ – Could make not having a river seem so much more bearable! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to love train travel, but it has been year and years since I was able to ride. With airfare and cheap flights, I had to go that route – usually because there was some urgency to the trip, illness, funerals and the like.
    It’s really a shame that so many of the tracks have been removed or left to go the way of all things. Think we kind of blew it. I try to encourage people to get a rail pass, it seems like the best way to see America’s vistas up close and personal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We did blow it didn’t we? I’m glad they’re repurposing some track beds for hiking/biking trails, but it makes we wonder how much more popular taking the train would be if there were more routes. And I fly 99.9% of the time too because I usually go long distances and need to get there and back efficiently.

      Maybe when hubs retires we can take in some of those fabulous vistas! One can hope… 🙂

      Like

  3. I am now afraid for you. I went to amtrack.com and looked up the Missouri River Runner train to see if I could find the route and verify that it doesn’t cross any rivers. I clicked on the the plus sign to enlarge the map of the route and it brought up a blank screen. That coupled with the fact you’ve seen no rivers leads me to believe:

    You’re on a train to nowhere in an alternate universe.

    Go back, away from light. Find an exit, now. Run, run.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Isn’t that a great picture? I love the elegance of the art deco period so I’m really drawn to those images.

      I realize that train travel for long distances is impractical considering time involved and how relatively inexpensive airfares are, but for 250 or 300 mile trips, it really does make more sense. So much better in so many more ways than driving and probably just as fast as air travel given the security lines, delays, etc. And bonus – Amtrak doesn’t charge you for your luggage!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was a young child. my mother took my brother and me on a train from Buffalo to New Jersey to visit relatives. I remember eating sandwiches on the train from a picnic basket my mother brought along, and I loved going through the foothills and seeing the scenery so close out the train window. I don’t think I’ve been on a train since, but it’s one of the things I’ve been meaning to do “someday.” Somehow, though, I don’t think it will be quite as much fun as it was in the late 1950s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh – don’t put off “someday” too long… Who knows how long Amtrak will stay afloat? I think they’re barely making it as is… 😦

      The picnic on the train sounds delightful! And you’re right, it probably won’t be the same. But I bet your bottom will appreciate the big, cushy seats like mine did! And the WiFi when there aren’t any rivers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I did see the rivers eventually!

      You’re right – it is far more civil than air travel by a long shot. I flew back to Atlanta from St. Louis and it was a zoo. And the seats were teeny tiny with a tray table that was 4 X 6 inches. And no free WiFi and I had to pay for my suitcase. 😦 The bus isn’t nearly as roomy and doesn’t have a cafe car! 🙂

      Like

  5. Yes, we sort of take trains for granted here in the UK. In fact we complain that there are not enough of them. I love train travel, but then we do not have the huge distances to cover that you do in the US. Our train travel is quite expensive though. You really made me chuckle with this post; I shall be watching to see what other incredible observations you serve up! Lovely to come across you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awwwww – thank you!! And welcome to AGMA!

      Hubs and I took the Flying Scotsman from London to Edinburgh waaaayyyy back in 1981. It was delightful! I love all those Agatha Christie stories where one person or another is always taking a train and everybody seemed to have the schedules memorized!

      I didn’t realize that it was so expensive now. What a shame. Can you buy a rail pass (like tourists?)

      You just never know what thoughts might spew out of the mind of AGMA so check back soon! I normally post once a week. Or try to. Again again, welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just started “Go Set a Watchman” yesterday.
    The book starts from a scene in a train. Then I watched last week’s episode of Modern Family – also set in a train. And finally this entry.

    I’m taking my boys and myself on a train ride!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So now you get to sit in traffic or get herded in the airport onto the “cattle transport” airplanes. Moo. Delightful.

      I bet getting to work was so much easier on the train!

      Just to make you feel a bit more homesick, I think one of the great side benefits of taking the train in Europe is there are usually really great coffee places in the stations and yummy quick food places! Sorry… 😉

      Like

  7. You have inspired me to add “take a train trip” to my possibilities list. Years ago we met a couple who took a train from Chicago to Glacier National Park – they loved being able to see the changing scenery going across the country. Other friends have done an Alaska train trip – also great scenery. Not sure where you can go from Cincinnati though! It used to be a huge rail hub….now I think one Amtrack train comes thru at 3 AM. Bummer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Union Terminal is one of my favorite places in Cincinnati! Stunning Art Deco. Love the mosaics and Rookwood tiles! My kids loved the whisper corners when they were young. I’m so glad that it wasn’t torn down in the 70s!

      If you go to Chicago, the train leaves at 1:41 AM. Going towards DC is at 3:27 AM. Ugh. And it only runs 3 days a week. What’s that about?

      Don’t give up on your train dream. Even if you have to drive to Chicago then hop on there! Friends and I are talking about doing the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle and getting a sleeper car. Now THAT would be fun! And probably lots of ideas for AGMA!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree our train system for passengers in North America is quite limited, given the sheer vast distances.
    You would love lthe Amtrak train route along the Pacific Coast between Vancouver BC and Seattle.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. excellent writing, fun in a whimsical style. I have not done enough train travel. One long trip from Vancouver to Saskatchewan, and another from Vancouver to North Bay, Ontario. When I rode some trains in the UK and in Sweden – they were swift and rocked me to sleep. Definitely need more trains, preferably european trains in my future. Enjoy the view from the cafe car AGMA, and take care of that bottom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the lovely compliments!! And I always try to pamper the bottom… 🙂

      I looked at a map – those were some long trips you took. How long was the one from Vancouver to Ontario? Did you have a cafe car and a big, cushy seat?

      I’ve been on some European trains that haven’t been that grand, but they were more short hop trains. We took one from Munich to Fussen last November and it was kinda cold on the train and the seats were definitely not cushy. My poor bottom! However we got on the train right after we flew over from the US, so my jet lag may have colored my experience! Still – it was nice to have the option to take the train rather than have to rent a car!

      Here’s to those European trains in your future! May they be plentiful and have soft seats!

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t expect to ever get to Europe again, and when I was there I was on one of those “If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium” guided tours many many moons ago. I did get to take a bullet train in Japan a bit more recently. The train trip that I want to take in this country is the XpressWest, a high speed passenger railroad that will hopefully someday soon connect Las Vegas with Southern California and would make the trip along the I-15 corridor at speeds in excess of 150 MPH with trains leaving every 20 minutes during peak travel times. I just hope it’s done while I’m still around to take that thrill ride!

    Liked by 1 person

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