Skip to comments.How to Spend 47 Hours on a Train and Not Go Crazy
Posted on 03/03/2013 2:46:18 AM PST by iowamark
Vickie, Alice, Lisa, Debbie, Barbara, Chris, Clair and Cootz boarded the Los Angeles-bound Sunset Limited in Schriever, La., and immediately took residence in the glass-sheathed Sightseer Lounge car. The eight women squeezed into two booths on either side of the aisle and began to scream with laughter.
With a quiet, pneumatic exhalation, the Sunset Limited left the station; it was 90 minutes into its journey, with 45 hours and 5 minutes to go... It climbed steadily for two miles before passing over the dizzyingly narrow span of the Huey P. Long Bridge. From up there, 145 feet above the Mississippi River, the rivers full double turn, like a lowercase m written in a lazy cursive, was visible; you could see why they called New Orleans the Crescent City...
Long-distance-train passengers tend to belong to one of four categories. The first, perhaps most obvious category is occupied by people who refuse to fly, whether because of religious beliefs, fear or health reasons, but there are fewer of these than you might expect. The second category belongs to train buffs, known less commonly as rail fans, GERFs (glassy-eyed rail fans), or foamers, a term coined by railroad employees to refer to people who became so excited by trains that they seem to foam at the mouth like rabies victims.
In the United States, there are more than 100,000 train watchers, according to one estimate, a number that includes a 70-year-old retiree from Germantown, Md., named Steve King, whose first job, in 1959, was to serve as an operator for B & O Railroad. Though King identifies himself as a transportation geek"
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Two days, NO to LA?
I can drive faster than that.
Probably cheaper, too.
I doubtyou can do it much faster , but damned sure cheaper.
When you figure the cost of the train plus meals that they have a monopoly on and a price to match. I believe you can buy a round trip flight for the cost of a one way train trip.
“When you figure the cost of the train plus meals that they have a monopoly on and a price to match. I believe you can buy a round trip flight for the cost of a one way train trip.”
Plus, the price of your train ticket doesn’t include the taxpayer subsidy of the service.
I have journeyed from Dallas to Seattle by train once, and it was indeed a strange odyssey flush with curious characters as described in this story, the most memorable of which was a particularly frisky female trucker from Henderson, Tx. The Air Force chick from Vista, Ca was cool and her company seemed to speed up time. There were drunken fights over card games and a great many people just smelled horribly. I remember a businessman from N Ca remarked to me that he was going to burn his clothes when he got home. I understood. The scenery was unforgettable in a different way, but I will never do such a thing again. Once is enough. But if you are contemplating a similar ride make sure you have a pvt sleeper cabin with a functional safety lock, because those trucker ladies get lonely something fierce.
Two days is nothing flat. In the 70s I rode in passenger cars that were connected in cross country freight trains. A New Jersey to California trip took TWO WEEKS. Of course, most of the time was spent in rail yards. But we could only go a few feet from the car, because there was never any hint of when the train would leave.
Funny part was when they poured us off the train in Chicago. My dad was there to pick me up, and the look he gave me when he saw the red-headed floozy on my arm was priceless.
I guess I’m one of those train fans. I’ve taken the train from NJ to New Orleans (and back) twice. I’m commuting by train now and I love that too.
My grandfather was a conductor on the 20th Century Limited that ran from NY to Chicago. He knew many celebrities from his job. So it’s in my blood I suppose.
In fact, it’s one of my life’s dreams to take the train across country, but it would be expensive.
I will say that by far the best crab cakes I ever had were the ones I had on Amtrak. Crab cakes and fried green tomatoes, delish!
I swear some of the best story threads are the ones we'll never see.......
Refusing to fly “because of religious beliefs”??? C’mon. Who refuses to fly because of religious beliefs?? The NY Slimes making up crap as usual to make people of faith look like loons.
Riding on the City of New Orleans,
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin’ trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.
Good morning America how are you?
Don’t you know me I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.
When I was in college my dad worked for Greyhound. I rode a lot of buses. I remember counting up the miles once and could have gone around the world but that could be wrong. I was never good at math. But whenever he could my dad put me on the bus and told the driver not to let anyone sit with me. I was told to sit on the aisle until the bus left and then spread out my stuff to claim the whole seat. It usually worked. There were some pretty sketchy people on buses in the 60s. I was shy. I probably missed learning a lot about life.
No, thanks...I’ll drive...
I’ll bet Willie Green was on that train writing his national rail system manifesto.
I don’t recall prices. but a couple of years back I wanted to go across to California on the train and fly back. When I saw the cost of a compartment to sleep in and food and the price of the ticket, I soon changed my mind.
Bring a few books, a pillow, a blanket, and couple of bags of cookies?
After that trip, I swore that I would never again ride Amtrak--and I never have.
Even the Amish do not see technology as evil or “satanic” instead they see it as making life easier, which is against their philosphy that work should be hard and meaningful. There is also the idea that by having less the chance to covet and envy is greatlly reduced.
On September 11, I took the Path train into lower Manhattan from Jersey.
That was the last time I have been on a train.
How about London to HongKong? Although there were stops along the way, the TransSiberian part of the trip was all train, night and day. I’d do it in a minute again!
When was your trip and how long did it take? It always nice to have an idea of when events happened because things change so much. (They don’t do it like they used to.)
P.S. I’m envious! What a trip! I can’t imagine the scenery.
I thought about taking the train from Houston to Raleigh, looked at the schedule, the massive layover in Charleston and the price and drove.
The train in this country is a novelty except in the East and Chicago area. If it can’t be run right and profitably and affordably it needs to be shut down.
To experience train travel Dad, my Son and I made the loop from Houston to LA, Seattle, Chicago and back to Houston. That was in the early 90s. We had a good time save for the tension in LA from the Rodney King mess and in Chicago where the station polarized to a near riot over a smoking Black and some cancer survivor who didn’t want the Black to smoke in an area that said no smoking. Adding to the tension was that Amtrak was late and lied many times about when the train would board.
Amazingly, or maybe not, travel was much better in the 30’s than it is now. People from the little Eastern Oklahoma town of Marble City on the Katy commuted to Kansas City for jobs. They would board the train on Sunday evening and arrive before work on Monday. On Friday they would board the train after work and be home for the weekend by Saturday morning having slept all night on the train. It was affordable. The commuters were school teachers.
Try that today. Won’t work.
“Two days, NO to LA? I can drive faster than that. Probably cheaper, too.”
Driving distance, 1900 miles
Driving time, 27 hrs (based on average speeds, within speed limit)
Fuel cost, $274 (based on 27 mpg highway, $3.90/gal gas cost)
And that is a $550 rt fuel cost, if you don’t drive around LA.
What he really meant was people take the train because they DON’T have a RELIGIOUS BELIEF IN THE TSA.
So, by the thinking(?) of the NYT reporter, that makes them loons.
Anyone have have knowledge of Trans-Canadian train?
I have heard it makes stops, when you ask, for hunters and campers.
Thanks. I went to your link. Per person cost of $1000/day is pretty steep. But for those who can afford it, sounds great.
I am glad we have our travel trailer. Heading out for a 2-week trip pretty soon, AAMOF.
It was 1990,(Late August, September, to the middle of October) and it took 6 weeks because of the tourist stops.
The Berlin Wall had just come down and the remnants were still there, as was Checkpoint Charlie. Mongolia had just shaken off Russia and was an independent country. There was a stark contrast between drab Russia and the color of Mongolia! The Russians all wore dark, plain colors and walked without pep — or so it seemed. I didn’t think anything of it, until we went into Mongolia and the people were spirited and were brightly dressed. Marked difference! And a difference in the farmlands of Russia and China. Busy workers all over the Northern Chinese farms, but deserted in Russia.
I’d love to do the trip again just to see the differences, now.
One thing about train travel is that you get a bird’s eye view of what you see in the countryside as compared to the modern cities. There is the intrigue of foreign geography, of course, but you also see the people just living their lives. Impressions I will never forget.
Scenery? I’ll never forget those White Birch forests in Russia — or the living Gobi Desert. I always thought of deserts as being deserted. Well the Gobe changed my mind. So much wild life!!! Little tiny villages — I mean TINY, and lone horse men off in the distance. A life I can’t even imagine!
I've never tried it on a train (all my trips were short hops) but I have it on good authority that there is nothing like sex on a train. Something about the "rhythm of the rails" providing all the motion...
Of course, you might not remember those details.
How did you get home?
Thanks so much for sharing some of the details of your journey. I am so envious!
Ferry to Jersey. Hitched a ride to Short Hills Hilton. Wife picked me up from there.
Wow. That must have been quite a day.
That looks “mahvelous!”
If I hit Lotto I will do it, and invite you for sure!