After selling our souls to Disney (or rather paying large sums of money to surrender them), we said our goodbyes to the best hosts ever and set off on the part of the trip that I was super, duper excited about. I won’t say it was the part that I was MOST excited about (ahem, friends and family, uhhh Hawaii), but I was pretty, super, stoked.
We decided to take the train from LA to Austin! I had done this trip in reverse when I was 16 and absolutely loved it. Ash and I toy with the idea of taking it every time we travel to the states, usually, my desire for queso and family overrule the scenic route.
We decided this was the year to go for it. We had heaps of time scheduled in Texas and knew that the boys would love it. Bonnie and Andy (best hosts ever) dropped us at Union Station in LA around 9 and our 35 hour journey began.
I wish I had more photos of Union Station; it was stunning. Ash and I got a bit lost and a bit frustrated and then had a run in with that bitch Karma as the bottle of red wine we were trying to sneak onto the train smashed inside Ash’s backpack.
Hot, sweaty and dripping wine we boarded the train. We booked a sleeper car, which was kinda cool because it’s kinda like first class train ridin’. In our disheveled state, I felt like the conductor was going to suggest we might feel more comfortable riding in the freight car, but he didn’t. He was nice and told us where the free coffee and juice were located.
Our car was awesome. It spanned the whole width of the train car and had 4 bunks-3 singles and 1 double that transformed into four seats and two tables during the day. The boys couldn’t believe our luck that we had a transformer car. Ash took a shower with his backpack and we all got into our jammies and the train rocked the boys to sleep. At about 2 am. Jet lag was not kind to us.
Meals are included in the price of the sleeper car and we were all excited for breakfast in the morning. It was so much fun, Amtrak dining cars are my new happy place. I know that we did actually pay for our meals, but the idea that we got to eat whatever we wanted for free made me happier than it probably should.
The dining cars have limited space, so they do what’s called “community seating” aka, you have to sit with strangers. Since we were a party of four, we just got to benefit from all the other awkward conversations around us and didn’t have to engage in any ourselves. Lot’s of “it’s the journey, not the destination!” mixed in with “I’m scared to fly” or, “my head injury prevents me from going on planes.”
The absolute best part of the train is the observation car. Big swively chairs under a glass dome roof. This particular journey goes through the desert southwest. The Sonoran desert was my and Henry’s favourite with its big cacti. I think the boys were expecting more of a Saharan looking sandy desert, but quickly got used to the idea of cacti and tumble weeds and red dirt. Henry took about a bazillion photos and videos. Truman mainly talked really loud and bumped into people unapologetically in the hallways.
Ash and I got to read and drink wine and take our own photos. Train travel really, really is the most relaxing way to travel. In general, the other people on board are there because they like to take things slow and to talk to other people about how they like to take things slow. No one has to drive, you never have to go through security screenings, the kids can move around freely and there’s always time to enjoy the journey. Even if you can’t freakin’ wait to get to the destination!