Sunday, September 18, 2016

Voyage of the Vikings Cruise - The Trip Home


Neither Val nor I got much sleep last night as the train was very noisy; every time we went over a switch in the tracks, which was often, the train made a loud bang and rocked back and forth.  Besides that, the trains in the east have only one level so you are much closer to the tracks and hear much more noise.  We got up around 7:30 and neither one of us was in a very good mood after our near sleepless night.  We had breakfast in the dining car and then went back to our room to await our arrival in Chicago.

We arrived in Chicago on time and made our way to the Metropolitan Lounge where we had a five hour wait until the Southwest Chief (our train to Los Angeles) left.  As I said on the trip east, the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago is brand new so they are still decorating and adding things, which led to our entertainment for the morning.  They were hanging a giant picture in the area we were sitting in so we were able to watch and of course supervise and give advice; not really, but it kind of felt that way as they had a small audience.

We started getting hungry and headed to the food court for lunch and then had only a short wait until our train started to board.  It’s always a bit hectic getting to the gate and boarding, but we were soon sitting in our room watching the countryside go by.  This train is so much quieter than the train we were on yesterday I hope we can get a good night’s sleep tonight.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and watching the countryside go by until it was time for dinner.  We both had steaks for dinner and they were pretty good considering the limited kitchen space the train has, but the service was the worst we’ve ever seen on the train.  It appeared they were trying to organize it in some way, but it had the opposite effect as it was totally disorganized.  We had a 7:00 reservation and we didn’t get back to our room until after 8:30, it should never have taken so long.  Oh well, it’s not like we had anywhere else to go.

We were both pretty tired so it wasn’t long before we decided to have the beds made up and to try and get a better night’s sleep tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll be on the train all day.

Train Day

Last night we both got a good night’s sleep as the train ride was much quieter and smoother.  Someone told us we would like the trains east of Chicago much better than the ones in the east, but I have to disagree with that after our experience.  We got up just after 8:00, but we went from central time to mountain time just after we got up so it turned out to be just after 7:00.  We decided to pass on breakfast this morning as neither one of us wanted to go to the dining car.

We sat and read and watched the world go by for a while, but we learned the train stop in La Junta, Colorado was going to be for a half hour so we decided to get off the train and stretch our legs.  Right across the street from the train station we spotted a donut shop and decided we would have our breakfast there.  Donuts are a guilty pleasure of mine and I hadn’t had one on our entire trip so far so I thought it was my lucky day. 

After enjoying our breakfast, it was back to the train and we continued our journey home.  The train just kind of rolls along and so does the time as we spend our time reading, talking and just watching the world outside our window.  We made our lunch reservations for 1:00 and the service was only slightly better than last night; I really think they need to reevaluate their system.  After lunch we spent the afternoon much as we did the morning.  The train stopped for almost an hour in Albuquerque so we did go out and wander around for a bit, but other than that we just relaxed.

We made our dinner reservations for 7:00, but as the time drew nearer, neither one of us really wanted to eat another meal in the dining room so we went to the cafe car instead and had some snacks for dinner.  They told us the train was running early and we would be arriving in Los Angeles at 7:20 AM instead of 8:15.  This meant we would have to be up by 6:00 so we went to bed early.  We were lucky in that we had gotten back into the pacific time zone so that gives us an extra hour.  Tomorrow we will finally be home after our long journey.


Today is the last day of our journey, tonight we will be sleeping in our own bed.  We were up by 6:00, but evidently things hadn’t gone well in the night and we were behind schedule instead of early; oh well, such is life on the train.  No breakfast this morning as they closed the dining car very early so we sat in our room and watched the countryside go by as we made our way to Los Angeles.

We arrived in LA only about 20 minutes late so we were happy as we had a two hour layover until our train north leaves.  We opted for Red Cap service today as Val is in the midst of a bad cold and I’m coming down with one.  The Red Cap loaded our luggage into his cart and whisked us away to the entrance to the Metropolitan Lounge.  Once inside we checked in and found a couple of comfortable seats to wait until our train home leaves.  They had muffins and juices available so we helped ourselves and made up for our lack of breakfast this morning.

We again found out the benefit of tipping the Red Cap well as the Red Cap who took us from the train to the lounge magically appeared and said they were getting ready to start boarding on our train.  He took us out the door, loaded our luggage on his cart, and we were brought to the Coast Starlight, which was the train we would take north; very nice service especially at the end of a long journey.  This is a short five hour trip, but we still opted to get a roomette as it is more comfortable and there are a few amenities that make it worthwhile.

The train was soon underway and we relaxed and read as the city of LA rolled by.  The Coast Starlight has a unique feature for sleeping car passengers that the other trains don’t have; the Parlor Car.  The Parlor Car is a combination bar, lounge and diner.  We opted to have our lunch in the Parlor Car and it was very good with much better service than we had on the Southwest Chief.  They announced they were showing a movie on the lower level of the Parlor Car, but we wouldn’t be on the train long enough to see it.

We rolled through the countryside north of LA and enjoyed the views of the Santa Barbara coast.  We were running right on time, but when we were within a half hour of home, we had to wait for another train to pass so we ended up being almost a half hour late.  We finally arrived in San Luis Obispo and were met by our good friend Doug who drove us home.  Thanks so much Doug.

It was great to be home, but we did find a few glitches.  I found that my car had been vandalized, which was very strange as we live in a bit of secluded area that doesn’t get much traffic.  It wasn’t too bad, but it will be a hassle.  After the police showed up and took my report, I went up to turn on my computer and my monitor gave a loud hum and would not work again.  I guess that’s what happens when you leave home for six weeks.  Oh well, it was a great trip, but it feels great to be home.

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