Get the kids around and the popcorn popped, because I'm about to weave a yarn that will have you yawning for hours...
When Ben had mentioned he would like to take a train trip out to California, I admit I was a tad skeptical. We have a 4 month old baby who changes his routines, like I change his diapers. What if he hated it? What if he cried the whole time? What if he started spewing fire balls at us for making him do this? What if I jumped out of a moving train? And the whole swine flu thing? What insane thing did Joe Biden say about trains? So many what ifs. I desperately wanted to go to California so that my relatives could meet the Big E, but at the cost of my sanity and gastrointestinal tract? I wasn't sold.
Ben did a lot of research about prices and days and we talked to our pediatrician about taking Eli on the train. I think my mother called several psych wards to have us committed, as I'm sure she thought we were crazy. After some pondering, phone calls, convincing arguments from Ben, I agreed that this would be *cough* *cough* fun and we bought our tickets. It would take us 2 and a half days to get there and the same time back. We would be traveling through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, and California.
On our way out we would be staying in a roomette, or what I affectionately named, a coffin. It was better than coach by far, but it became the place where I would endure the longest night of my life. Ben got us on a waiting list for a bedroom (which we would be staying in on our way back), but we were never called. When we boarded the train, Ben asked our attendant, who I affectionately named Incompetent Moron, to let us know if any bedrooms opened up, to which he replied we should not "get our hopes up".
The first night Ben slept in the top bunk, while I slept with Eli (better known as the tiniest bed hog I've ever met) in the bottom bunk. I did not take a picture of this room, but imagine opening up your refrigerator and seeing two beds. I checked my phone every 15 minutes praying for the sweet release of death (okay, I speak hyperbolically, but a sleeper hold might have been nice). Whenever the train would make a turn or go over bumpy track I would roll into the door of our room. I got up around 4 am to use the bathroom only to discover every toilet was clogged due to higher elevation. Internet, I'm about to tell you something disgusting, but I had to do it. I peed on top of someone else's pee, praying I would not contract hepatitis. It was gross.
I stumbled back to my refrigerator box as Eli was waking up to eat. I checked the phone and saw that it was 4:30 a.m. I thought, good, the sun will come up soon and this night will be over. I fed Eli and he drifted back to sleep. I thought surely, it's almost 5:30 a.m. I checked my phone and it said 4:15 a.m. NOOOOOOOOO!!! WE HAD CHANGED TIME ZONES. I finally fell asleep around 5:30 a.m.
The next day as I spent most of my time in stage 1 sleep, I prayed a bedroom would open up. And then God smiled on us. As Ben was searching for a working bathroom, he bumped into another attendant. He asked said attendant whether or not he knew of any bedrooms opening up. The attendant said that as a matter of fact one had opened up in his car. He would need to check with the conductor, but he thought we could have it. Cue Handel's Messiah. We paid the upgrade fee (a measly $50; I would have given them my spleen) and made the move to the Holy Land, or our bedroom. It was glorious. Plus, our new attendant was working on sainthood and was a zillion times better than Incompetent Moron. We spent the rest of the trip working our new attendant into our will and enjoying the scenery (see below).
Aside from the first night, our trip went splendidly. Eli was amazing. All my worries and xanax inquiries were for naught. I think the rocking motion of the train helped him sleep better than he does at home. We're looking into purchasing a train for our next home. He seemed to revel in all the oohs, awwws, and "look at those dimples" directed toward him. He was never fussy, not even when his mother needed to be sedated on our last day on the train (see ahead).
Our food was amazing. We had salmon, pork tenderloin, angus burgers, an accidental veggie burger, and the most amazing french toast. Our trip back was also very smooth.
We had the bedroom reserved for both nights on the way out which made sleeping much better. We had a three hour layover in Denver, so we went exploring around downtown. It was a nice sidetrip.
On the last day, I was getting anxious about being home. We were scheduled to get into Chicago around 4:00 and depart for Michigan around 6:00. We were pretty much on schedule until OUR TRAIN HIT A CAR! No lie. I was lying on the couch in our room with Eli and Ben was looking out the window when our train made a sudden jerk and we began slowing down pretty rapidly. Ben said, "I think we hit a car. I saw a wrecked car by the tracks." Sure enough, we had indeed hit a car. No one was hurt. Evidently the car stalled on the tracks and when the occupants saw the train arms coming down, they evacuated; although, Ben thinks darker forces were at work and uses air quotes when he says that the car was "stalled" on the tracks. All the hitting car hubbub made us late getting into Chicago and caused me to go into full on panic mode. I think Ben was on the verge of throwing cold water on me. Luckily, I married the most easy-going, calm person in the world and he arranged for us to get a cart to get to our connecting train on time.
On our connecting train, I sat behind a man, who I'm sure has had the cops called on him for assault and battery as evidenced by his phone calls. I also walked in on a man peeing as he had forgotten to lock the door to the bathroom. It was awesome.
Okay, this post has now become Epic length, so I will write about California later.