Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Southwest Chief

I've arrived in Los Angeles and made my way to my friend's apartment. The train arrived 7 hours late, which was caused in part by the flooding in Iowa which forced Amtrak to uses buses in place of trains. There were other factors, though, one of which is the regular stopping of the train to allow freight trains coming the opposite direction to pass where parallel tracks aren't available. There needs to be a good deal more infrastructure before the train can really begin to compete with other transportation options.

As for the 40-some hours I spent on the train, they were better than I expected. I managed to get a fair amount of sleep sitting up in my seat, though it was the kind of discomfort that wakes you up every thirty minutes. You turn over, adjust a little, and go back to sleep. The first night I had a pair of seats to myself, but on the second a young Albuquerq sat next to me and it limited my sleeping space. The seat was comfortable, compared to airplanes with more room and probably three times the leg room. In terms of food, there were two options. One was a club car that was something like a very well stocked snack bar. There was some food the guy would heat up in the microwave (hot dogs, pizza, cinnamon rolls), and a lot of cold options, plus some beer and little mini bottles of booze you get on an airplane. There was also a dinning car, where you would make a reservation (someone would come through the cabin asking who wanted to eat a meal in the car). I had dinner there Tuesday evening, and had a decent vegetable lasagna which included some steamed veggies on the side. There was about four choices, all of which came with salad and a roll.

It was a long ride, but never uncomfortable. I could walk up and down the train whenever I wanted, there were cups and water in every car, and nice people. Knowing I have many more tirps ahead, I'm not exactly thrilled about the coming trips, but I'm not worried about it. I want to reserve judgement until further along in the trip.

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