The family and I are on vacation. It’s our annual trip to the grandparents in the Northwest. We look forward to visiting to relax, enjoy the folks and connect with nature. Grandma and grandpa’s home is located across the street from a lovely river. It’s our chance to get out of the big city and enjoy all a small town has to offer.
Normally the family takes an airplane to visit the folks, however my husband and I decided it was time for us to venture out of our normal routine and try something different. This year we decided to travel by train to our destination. The boys have never been on a train trip before, especially an overnight one, so we thought it was time to give them the experience.
When I booked our train tickets I was very excited about our adventure, so was my husband. Years ago we lived in London and took the train everywhere we traveled. There’s something romantic about sitting next to your love, chatting, holding hands and looking out at the countryside. My husband and I have many happy memories of our train rides…just the two of us.
I informed the boys we were taking the train and surprisingly they weren’t happy.
“A train? Why? Won’t it take a long time to get there?” – Tall Boy
“Well, yes. We will have to spend the night on the train.” – Me
“Sleep on the train? In what? Do we get to sleep on in the cool,sleeping car rooms?” – Old Boy
“Uh, no. Those are way too expensive. We’ll sleep in our assigned seats. There is a parlor car for sightseeing and a fancy eating car.” – Me
“Sleep in our seats? That sounds terrible. Why can’t we just fly up to Grandma’s house?” – Tall Boy
“Where’s your sense of adventure? Come on. It’ll be fun. You used to love Thomas the Train when you were a kid. Besides we need to practice our travel skills we start doing international traveling.” – Husband
“International traveling? To where…Mexico? Dad, we can drive there faster and not have to deal with the train.” – Old Boy
The teenage boys weren’t thrilled about our train travels, but we didn’t let that damper our spirits. Little Boy was his usual excited self and was ready to try something new.
“I love trains. I hope I get to meet the engineer. Maybe he will let me do some of the driving.” – Little Boy
Travel by train is a much simpler process than by air. You don’t need to go through a huge security clearance, the lines to board our train are small and you are able to bring coolers with food and water. I felt confident our new means of travel with the family would be by train.
A couple of people tried to warn me of things that could go wrong on a train trip, but I didn’t listen. I was too busy thinking of great train movies like Some Like It Hot and how fun the trip would be. I imagined reading a book in the parlor car, eating a nice meal in the dining car and sleeping peacefully at night as the train gently rocked me to sleep. It all sounded like a dream. Sadly, it was.
The moment we boarded our first train there was trouble. The teenagers started complaining. They didn’t like the seats, the smell and the fact they had to eat food out of cooler. I did my best to ignore their words and enjoy the lovely view.
After a quick ride on the commuter train we boarded the overnight train. My husband and I were thrilled to see how big the seats were, so roomy and comfortable. There were no seatbelts to restrict us. We were able to get up and down as often as we like.
“Look at all the leg room. So much overhead baggage space. Train travel is the only way to go.” – Me
“I’m with you, Sweetie.” – Husband
The overnight train started and for a while everyone was happy. However, it didn’t talk long before the whining began.
“How much longer untill we get to grandma’s house, Daddy?” – Little Boy
“Buddy, we just pulled away from the station. We have a LONG way to go.” – Husband
“How long?” – Little Boy
“We won’t arrive until tomorrow. We will sleep on the train.” – Husband
“What a nightmare. Sleeping in our seats? Yeah, right. No one will be sleeping tonight.” – Old Boy
As wonderful as train travel can be there were several aspects to the trip we MAY have overlooked. For example, children get bored after a few hours, at least little children do. Another thing is if you bring a cooler of food it will be consumed by the kids within mere hours of the trip, leaving the parents only carrot sticks and soggy crackers to eat. But the worst thing was that it’s impossible to sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time on a train.
People get on and people get off all the time. Unlike and airplane, trains stop at every city to pick up and drop off people. Sometimes the stop goes quickly and other times you could be stuck waiting for 20 minutes. Waiting isn’t so bad, but in the middle of the night it’s awful. Each time people get off they make a lot of noise, but getting on is ever worse. The people who board the train at 12:30 am are wide awake and chatty. They are excited about their trip and don’t realize the rest of the passengers are trying to sleep.
My husband was assigned Little Boy as his seat partner. This was a good choice at first since Little Boy fell right to sleep. But unfortunately, the loud people boarding the train woke him up and he was wide awake wanted to play Go Fish at midnight.
I, however, had Tall Boy as my seat partner. It seemed fine until I realized he was so big and would be taking up all the seat and leg space. To make matters worse he reverted to a little boy and felt the need to either place his head on my lap or on my shoulder. Sleeping with 165 pounds of boy on you is impossible.
My husband’s seat was located near the stairs to the lower level. Down below were the bathrooms. Since no one sleeps on the train what they do instead is go to the bathroom. All night long hundreds of people went down the stairs and up the stairs. I would have traded seats with my husband, but I was trapped by a huge boy.
The wonderful glow of train my husband and I had at the beginning of our trip went dark by the time the night was over. By morning I couldn’t wait to get off the train and bid farewell to train travel. However, the next morning we had over nine more hours to go until we got to grandma’s house.
By the time we arrived at our destination we were all exhausted, hungry and stinky. When grandma asked how the trip was all I could think of was one thing,”Thank God we were all flying back home on an airplane”.
I am one momma who is happy to be thrown off the train for good.
Metra F40PH-2 120 “City Of Woodstock” approaching the Deerfield station in Deerfield, Illinois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)