I'm doing a first tomorrow! I'm traveling cross country on the California Zephyr (I really like saying California Zephyr!) with my mom from McCook, Nebraska to Bakersfield, California (via Sacramento) to visit my daughter, son-in-law and of course, granddaughter Mary!
I travel quite a bit, and am usually able to take it in stride, but I have to admit that this trip has given me many sleepless nights. Probably it is just the novelty of it. With the frigid weather and nasty storms in the east, the Zephyr has been running anywhere from 1 to 8 hours late in the past few days. Normally the departure time out of McCook is 3:43 a.m.
My husband is a life-long railroader, with about 35 years in with Union Pacific. So far, I have been unable to convince him to to rail-trekking with me, so this time it's just me 'n Mom. Of course, he has also been filling me full of stories about how freight takes precedence over passengers and how we could be stranded somewhere along the track for hours if not days.
His predictions have come part-way true. We were supposed to leave Wednesday morning, but I got an email this morning at 3:30 and a phone call at 6:30 indicating that the train had been cancelled. I then spent the better part of an hour on the phone getting my reservations changed. Thankfully, we were able to book the exact same itinerary, accommodations and price for the next day, so all is well and I give kudos to Amtrak's customer service.
My experience with the cancellation makes my preparations seem even more appropriate. An extra suitcase filled with blankets, pillows, food and booze. If we get stranded over the Donner Pass, it will be a few days before Mom and I start seeing our fellow passengers as lunch.
I'm sure experienced train travelers will think I'm crazy, and hopefully I won't even have to open this suitcase (except maybe to spike my coffee).