When people heard that Kris and I were taking a train cross-country during my 9th month of pregnancy they thought we were a little bit crazy. But people, this guy:
This guy, is a pretty big deal. He’s my little brother. One of the funniest people you will ever meet in your life. Super fun to be around. The only person, besides my husband, who has watched the Might Ducks Trilogy with me. The only person I have ever actually punched in a fight. Lover of all things Ovaltine, Cheeze Wiz, gummy bears and penguins. Physical therapist extraordinaire. All around pretty cool guy. Seriously, I love him so much. Anyway, he decided to get married to this AWESOME lady who is also a pretty big deal. Not only is she gorgeous, but she is super funny, super smart (people she is bi-lingual and working on her MASTERS right now) and she loves Pumpkin Spice lattes probably even more than I do.
So they decided to get hitched… right around the time I decided to have a baby. Then my doctor told me I couldn’t fly to the wedding (from California to Michigan) because apparently they don’t want people having babies on planes. I told my doctor I was going to the wedding one way or the other. Eye on the prize.
So then we decided to take the train. The train is awesome. There are no rules. You want to have a baby? Go for it. They will just pull up to the next railroad crossing, call an ambulance, dump you off and away you go. I’ll be honest. There was about 10% of me that was really hoping this would happen. Wouldn’t that have been a HILARIOUS story? Yes. Yes it would have been.
Once we got on the train, we learned a few things.
Space is a little tight. Not just the hallways, but the bathrooms, the beds, our little room. If you don’t like small spaces, don’t ride the train. Our roomette had two nice comfy chairs facing each other with a little pull down table in between. We had a very very very narrow “closet” next to one chair and a double shelf next to the other. At night, our chairs would pull out and lay flat to make one bed and we would pull another bed down that was tied to the ceiling. Since I was pregnant, Kris had to sleep on the top bed because I was in no condition to be able to climb up there. Basically, you are laying inches from the ceiling and I think Kris could touch both sides of the car while laying down. Let me just say this about sleeping on a train. It is a little freaky. You are hurtling through the dark, we’re talking pitch black, and being swayed (sometimes pretty hard) side to side. Not to mention the train goes faster at night. Plus you are lying down at this point. I really took some time in those moments and contemplated my mortality. You can’t see where we are going, you are in the dark in a confined space and being swung around. A little freaky I tell ya.
Train life = flexible life. Listen people, if you are going to ride the rails you need to know how train life works. Our bathroom broke on both legs of our journey (going out and coming home.) We were forced to go to the next car over to use their facilities. Not only did the bathrooms break, but the train broke, too. A lot. So expect delays. Don’t ride the train and think you will arrive on-time. If you can be flexible, you can enjoy the moment. One night our train hit a deer and we were shut down for a good couple of hours. No electricity, no movement, no bathrooms in any car. I think the workers felt bad for me because I was pregnant so our attendant told us that we could go down below and hang out by the open door if we wanted fresh air. It was nice. We stood and watched fireflies light up the night sky. If you have a specific day/event/moment you are trying to get to, I wouldn’t ride the train.
You see a lot of beauty riding the train. We saw desert, flat lands, mountains, cities, floods (seriously, there was a flood that we went through), sunsets, rocks, rivers, miles of grass. It was gorgeous. Also, it was so fun to watch the landscape change from CA to MI. Kris and I both said that once our kids are older we would do one more train trip so they can have the experience of seeing all the different terrains America has to offer. The only part that was not beautiful was when we went by the Colorado river. Otherwise known as “Moon River.” Why is it called this? Well ask the 20 million people that pulled down their pants and mooned us as we went by. No joke. I was in the dining car, enjoying a nice meal, looking out the window when all of a sudden a rafter on the river stood up, turned around and dropped his pants! Apparently it is a thing. Apparently whenever a train goes by, whoever is on the river does this. So beware of that.
Getting to meet different people is fun. So this is a picture of our roomette. And sometimes we would pull that little table down and have a meal delivered to our room. However, the majority of meals we ate in the dining car. What we found out when we got to the dining car was that you would be seated with random people in order to fill up the tables. It was a blast. We got to sit down with random people from all over America (and other countries, too) and chat with them over a nice meal. When the meal was over everybody bid each other adieu and away we all went.
Train life. It’s a ride. 😀 I just thought that one up all by myself.
A few other memorable experiences from our trip:
1. We had a layover in Chicago going out and coming back. The layover was supposed to be four hours, but going out, we were left with only about an hour. During this layover we had to get off our original train and switch to a new one that would complete our journey. If you go back to the first picture you can see all the luggage Kris and I had to carry. The only thing we had checked was the big red suitcase. This meant we had to carry and transport 2 backpacks, 2 pillows, one giant tote and a small suitcase ourselves. When we made our way into the train station and to the waiting area for our next train, I looked down and realized that my legs and feet were growing at an alarming rate. They also started to feel really numb and I was starting to feel a little dizzy. NOT GOOD WHEN YOU ARE 81/2 MONTHS PREGNANT. So Kris left me with our stuff and went to ask if there was anybody that could assist me to the next train. Sometimes after you go through the check-in point, you still have to walk (literally) a quarter of a mile to your specific train. They had golf carts that attendants would use to assist the disabled and elderly. Kris was told that they would call up the disabled and people above 62 first for check-in. We were to go with this group because once these people were past the check point, the golf carts would come and pick them up and take them to the train first. They made the announcement and we joined the line. You should have seen the looks we got. People kept staring at us and trying to jostle by us and finally one woman flat out turned to us and said rudely, “Are you guys vets?” Vets were also allowed to join this group and were given special permission to be first on the train as a thank you for their service. So I, probably ruder than I should have, said, “No, I’m 8 months pregnant and my feet are twice their normal size right now and I can’t walk…” and then I realized she wasn’t really listening and didn’t really care. I’ll be honest. I was irritated. I never really played the pregnant card, except for once at youth group when I really really really wanted to kids to help me set the room back up, and so now I really felt like I needed assistance and people were being rude to me! Oh. My. Gosh!
Anyway, we were all moved to this waiting area, away from the other waiting area and I sat with my feet elevated on our suitcase. All of a sudden I hear an announcement, a couple of golf carts pull up and I see a MAD DASH (I swear to you, these people that were “elderly” and “disabled” full out ran) to the golf carts. I seriously felt like the man at the pool in the Bible who tells Jesus, “When the waters stir everybody else gets in and I am not fast enough.” I was literally left sitting ALL ALONE in this room. THE GOLF CARTS LEFT WITHOUT ME. Every single “elderly” and “disabled” person was able to run and yet they gave ME grief for being in their stupid line. Again, OH. MY. GOSH. I struggled up to the attendant and asked what I should do. Of course, I had to sit and wait and eventually another golf cart came back to pick me up. WOW. WOW. WOW. The only redeeming thing about this was that they let Kris back in the room with me. Once we saw the SHAM that all these people were putting on I sent Kris out to run next to them to get our spot on the train. (On this last leg we did not have a room, just regular train seats.)
2. When we were home my mom found this:
My brothers and my old Pinewood Derby race cars! I won first place with that purple one, baby!
3. The wedding was fantastic. I literally have no pictures from it because… well I didn’t have my phone. I lived the moment. It was in this outdoorsy chapel, my brother cried and Kris and I started the dance party. The reception was held in a large tent and not only was there dancing, but there was a bounce house, corn hole and very delicious kettle corn. So beautiful, so fun.
4. On our way back to CA, we had that Chicago layover again. This time I was feeling much better and we actually had the full four hours. We decided to take advantage of it and see some of the city. We checked our stuff into a holding closet and hit the streets.
And of course, we had to get some authentic Chicago deep dish pizza.
The truth is we had a blast. We had flexibility in our schedule, so we weren’t stressed when the train experienced delays. We used it as a time to enjoy a few days of uninterrupted time with each other. We went to bed when the sun set and woke up when it rose. Met interesting strangers and saw the beauty of God’s creation. I would never make it my preferred way of travel just because of how long it takes compared to flying and how expensive it is, but it was nice to do once. Thanks for taking the adventure with me, Kris!