Okay, so I’ll admit I’m behind on my conference/convention travel adventures, and believe me I had just as an eventful trip on the way home FROM RT as I did on the way there. Plus, I had a rather interesting trip to Phoenix a few weeks back. But yesterday I took another adventure and I just have to say, it’s worth sharing!
Most of us have a bucket list, right? Well, if not, go make one! It’ll change how you think about things and when you see an overwhelming list of things you want to do before you cock up your toes, you just might jump out and take a chance when the opportunity presents itself.
One of the things on my bucket list was to ride a train–and I don’t mean the train at the zoo or the “Christmas Train” that many little towns or big cities have. I know, this sounds ridiculous to some, but I don’t live in a huge city. I don’t do subways. I have a car and that’s just how I get around. So when I created my bucket list a few years back, ride a train (a real train with a real destination not just in a loop) was on my list. Therefore, when someone mentioned riding the rails via Amtrak from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, I suspended the reality that I live in where I need to finish a book and jumped on the idea of a train ride. This family and ours booked our tickets and that was it–everything was planned.
Because the train left so early in the morning compared to just how far away we live, we left for “the City” as we all call it in y part of the state the night before, stayed in a hotel and were ready to go!
We thought by staying in a hotel we’d get to the train station at a good time to get a good seat…uh, not so much. We did manage to find eight seats together, but they were facing backwards which was a trip. Luckily, I didn’t get sick, but poor Bob did. Otherwise, the way down there were no real problems other than a slight 15-minute delay and more “sway” than I thought there’d be. Oh and the first time the train made a connection it made me jump. But that was okay. On the train there was much to do like playing with all the little levers that adjusted the seats and stare out the window and the few small towns and numerous cows we passed.
In Fort Worth we baked like potatoes as we walked around Sundance Square and choked down a lunch that made my stomach clench at first whiff.
Then came the fun…
Wanting to get seats that faced the correct direction this time, we stood on the platform so we’d be the first people on the train at 4:50. And we were. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Around 5:10 they announced they were waiting for another train to come in who was going to bring us 25 passengers and they were “a few minutes away”. Well, that “few minutes” turned into over an hour and our train that as supposed to leave the station at 5:25 didn’t leave until closer to 6:30.
Oh and did I mention that once you get on the train, you can’t get back off? Furthermore, the only eats on a train are “snack bar” that doesn’t even open until after the train starts rolling. (One more thing on the snack bar, they have quite an extensive menu–not. The only thing we vegetarians could eat was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich–one of those frozen Smuckers varieties at that.) Anyway, because everyone was so hungry right off, the line for the snack bar coiled through the car and up the stairs and in the aisle between other passengers. It was long. So despite my nearly inedible lunch, we stayed seated until it’d been about 1:15 minutes since the train left and when we made it downstairs, there were only about six people ahead of us. That’s manageable.
Back to the adventure….
Had the delay at the station been the only delay, our arrival time would have been 10:23 (an hour late) and everything would have still been fine. But don’t forget Rose Gordon is involved so something weird has to happen to make for a more interesting journey. Well, it does and doesn’t at the same time. Thankfully nothing too serious happened, however…
Just as we’re chugging out of the station in Gainesville, TX the sky grows…dark. At first a little gray, then a strange greenish color that thankfully changed very quickly. Then the lightning started… And not just a single streak. No it spidered and had branches and stretched across the sky. A moment later there was an announcement that we’re about to be delayed because A. two freight trains are coming southbound on our track and we need to get out of their way and B. the weather is growing unsafe. Simultaneously, Bob and I reach for our iPads and sure enough there is a huge storm up ahead right in the direction our train is going. Oh, and the National Weather Service has put out a severe thunderstorm warning. Splendid. So for about half and hour we sit at a stand still on a “pull out” to wait for the trains to go by and for the weather to pass. Meanwhile, lightning is just lighting up the sky all around. It’s quite lovely actually, but would be even lovelier if I wasn’t stranded in a train in the middle of nowhere with 100+ strangers. Then we start chugging again only to make another stop mid-track because there’s a flash flood warning in effect for where we’re going.
At this point the “fun” of a train ride was over. The novelty had worn off and I was wondering why on earth I ever wanted to put that on my bucket list! I couldn’t even begin to tell you how long it’d been before we started rolling again. I did notice, however, when we passed through Ardmore that it appeared there really had been quite a storm. It was really dark so I can’t be sure, but it looked like one of the cross bars that comes down when the train passes had been blown off and was lying in the middle of the street. Water was everywhere and limbs were down.
By the time we returned to OKC I exhausted and worn out; it was 11:30, more than two hours past when scheduled.
It was a no-brainer decision to stay another night in a hotel. Little did we know, however, it’d be the most expensive hotel IN the city that we went to. But of course that is my luck. It’s also my luck that the guy behind the counter didn’t tell me the price until after he’d swiped my card at which point my jaw hit the desk, but alas, I was too tired to pick it back up and rattle off a retort and instead just dragged myself up the stairs and down the hall to a modest room that probably didn’t even have as many square feet as what I’d paid to use it.
So I must ask… does anyone want to come traveling with me???