Thursday, January 03, 2013

grand adventure, part 3

Sleeping on a train. While the rooms are fairly small, it actually works.

It's kind of amazing to me that they can fit a sofa that converts to a bed, a chair, a pull out table, walkway, a sink, and bathroom stall with shower, all into a 7x7 room. Oh, don't forget that top bunk. :-) Well, you can because we did. The converted lower bunk was actually just big enough for us to share.

Christmas Eve morning came early because we wanted to be up and seeing life on the train as much as possible. We actually set an alarm so that we could get a quick shower before early breakfast at 6:30 when the dining car opened up for the day. It's a good thing we did. Right after we got served, the dining car lost power! Anyone who came even a few minutes later didn't get to have a hot breakfast. Cold cereal and fruit was it. Thankfully, at a stop just before lunch, a mechanic came on board and was able to get power restored to the cheering of the passengers.

We spent the day much like the previous day, me knitting while we hung out in the parlour car, chatting with Erica and Ron and other folks. Lunchtime brought another nice meal with a couple guys who had just met each other. One worked for a trucking company. A former driver, he now works in the office. The other guy is the Brewmaster and owner of Santa Barbara Brewing Company. When asked what got him started on brewing beer, his reply of "I was thirsty" amused us to no end. Conversation ranged into space exploration and science, wine and beer, work and home lives.

Another afternoon wine tasting, this time with all California wines. We joined Kimberly and Phil for this event. She is a Radiation Therapist, he is an IT guy with a very large company. They have 5 kids ranging in age from 7-15. On alternate years, they take a vacation alone, leaving the kids with grandparents to spoil them while the folks get spoiled. They laughed and played card games the entire trip. It was great fun to see their level of enjoyment in one another.

After the winetasting, we sat chatting so long that Phil went looking for champagne for us all. More laughter and it was time for dinner. Since we had the same meal time scheduled, we just continued the conversation and laughter over our glazed salmon and a nice glass of wine.

Toward the end of dinner, an announcement was made requesting anyone with a medical background to please see Amtrak staff. Kimberly jumped up to help. Apparently a 2 year old boy had fallen and cut his forehead open. She was able to get the bleeding stopped, butterfly it together and return to our meal. Later she re-checked the little punkin and he was doing well.

A return to the parlour car found Erica, sitting alone, relaxing and ready for more chatting. Apparently after the winetasting, Chip, the parlour car attendant didn't have any takers to buy single glasses of the wine served. Since it was the 2nd day on the train, and we would be ending this leg of the journey soon, after an appropriate amount of time, he either has to sell it or throw it out. Instead, he gave the half bottle to Erica to enjoy. She had been waiting for us to enjoy it with her. A little later, Chip popped over to us again, with another bottle that had barely been opened. He told us to take it with us to our hotel. Cool!

As we pulled into Los Angeles, we went to get our luggage from the room and were wondering where the taxi stand would be at Union Station. Erica let us know that they would drop us at the hotel, no taxi needed. What a kindness. Outside, we met her husband, Paul, who is as nice as Erica. A quick 5 minute drive, unload their car outside the hotel, hug our new friends and discover they had purchased a bottle of wine for us as a celebration of our anniversary. We were so blown away by their sweetness and open offer of friendship.

And in we go, the LA Hotel Downtown on Christmas Eve.

...may there be mercy in the sharing of memories.

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