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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We're Saved! America is going by rail

Just went to K.C. Ball's entertaining blog, and read of her lastest airplane horror story. Well, rest easy America, you now have an option. AMTRAK! Sure, go by rail. It can be easy, cheap, on time, safe and relaxing. (OK, pick one.)

My Las Vegas best friend, Seigfried... or is it Roy... (I get those two so mixed up) told me of his brother's trek from Ft. Madison, Iowa to San Antonio, Texas... by rail. Piece of cake, right?

He left Ft. Madison by bus to catch his closest Amtrak zephyr in Galesburg, Illinois. From there, he rode in comfort and style to Springfield, Illinois... distance of about 60 miles... before the train broke down.

So the railroad gods put him and three others in a taxi to St. Lous (about 120 miles) to get the Texas-bound train. (His cab partners were a guy with influenza who sneezed ever 20 seconds, a Walmart greeter ("Hi. Howya doin' ") who never stopped smiling or talking, and a normal looking person who's last bath was two weeks ago.) Taxi then dropped them off at the wrong train station, missing the mark by about a mile. So he grabbed his two bags and hoofed it.

His train to San Antonio just barely made it into Texas when it slowed to a crawl. Conductor said they had some problem in forward gear. The train, however, proved it could go 90 mph backward, which did cause some passenger discomfort. It was all a moot point though since he also learned the tracks between here and there were under water because of the heavy rainfall.

So the last leg, which was 7 hours long... but it seemed like 2 days in human time, was, again, on a bus.

The magic of trains, you ask. Well, the final bus to San Antonio got to the station 11 minutes ahead of the hypothetical arrival time for the train. Take that, airline industry.

He did, however, meet a kindly old lady who was completing her voyage on a special Amtrak ticket... $500 for 30 days unlimited Amtrak travel. Seems that in 30 days, she almost made it out of the state. (Kidding. She made it to Oklahoma, where the wind comes whistling off the plain... nevermind.)

Rail travel, however, isn't the safe option to flying that people think it is. Did you hear about the horrible rail accident that left 200 passengers dead? Plane crashed into it.

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