Friday, May 30, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Ready to Go

This trip has been over a year and half in the making.  When my Aunt Judy visited us from Michigan over a year ago, (see Aunt Judy Visits Tahoe ) we talked about how long it had been since Val and I had visited Michigan (where I was born).  We decided that we would take the train to Chicago and meet Judy there and the three of us would see the sights of Chicago and then go on to Michigan and have a family reunion.  Every time we set a date something seemed to come up, but Saturday it will finally happen and we'll be on our way. However, even that didn't come easy as you'll see below.

The trip has grown as time has gone on and now my brother Doug, his wife Janis and their two daughters Becky and Mandy will be joining us in Michigan.  We will be visiting family we haven't seen in years, including a big cousins gathering arranged by Judy. We will also spend nearly a week touring Michigan with Judy and Doug's family.  This is really shaping up to be a great trip.

Our plan was to take the Amtrak Coast Starlight from San Luis Obispo to Seattle where we would spend the night and the catch the Empire Builder train from Seattle to Chicago.  Reservations were made and everything was arranged and we were scheduled to leave this Friday, but two days before we were scheduled to leave everything fell apart.  We got a call from Amtrak saying the Empire Builder train had been canceled due to track work and there were no alternate routes.  So, how were we going to get to Chicago?  There was no changing dates as we had rented a condo in downtown Chicago and that was non-refundable.

Minutes after the phone call from Amtrak we were trying to find another way to get to Chicago.  We called Amtrak and found a bedroom (the last one) on the California Zephyr which runs between Emeryville (San Francisco) and Chicago.  So we cancelled our Coastal Starlight reservations and now we'll be driving up to Davis, CA on Saturday, staying overnight in Davis and catching the Zephyr on Sunday.  The reason for catching the train in Davis is because there is a hotel near the station and the area is a little safer to leave the car in.  All's well that ends well as they say, but it's a disappointment as we were really looking forward to the experience on the other trains.  Oh well, we'll do it another time.

I am going to try to keep the blog up while we travel as I should have wi-fi in most areas except on the train, but we'll be pretty busy so I don't know whether I can or not.  Anyway, time to hit the road.  All aboard!