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.