Back in the day (and by this I mean the mid-late 90s) I wrote a rather long description of a trip from the Balkans back to Würzburg entitled “But we didn’t take a boat.” That particular journey involved military vehicles, a helicopter, more military vehicles, a C-12, a bus, a train, and an ambulance if I my memory serves me correctly.
My current journey also skips the boat and “only” involves our POV, a train, a bus, another train + Lyft to get me from our home in Berkeley to La Quinta in Sharonville OH (think Cincinnati).
This tale starts 6 June and I will release the last several days sections later, what you need now is shorten versions plus the ending so that you know that I arrived safe and sound.
Sunday: George dropped me off at the Emeryville AMTRAK station so that I could catch the east bound #6 California Zephyr. Not being foolish, I splurged on my very own little roommate which is adequate for one and insanely cramped if you are two or more jammed into this closet. And that was Sunday.
Monday was a lovely train ride through the Rockies, with a few significant “unscheduled” delays in Colorado due to track maintenance. The upshot was that we were headed into my second night on the train about five hours behind schedule (what is important to note here is that there is less that four hours between my trains in Chicago).
Tuesday morning we woke bright and clear after an extremely bumpy night to find out we were now less than 2 hours behind. This catch up didn’t last as there were delays at the morning and early afternoon turn-over of conducting and engineering staff. The upshot of all of this was that Amtrak acknowledged that we were never going to make our connection in Chicago.
Accordingly, all of us headed for three different connections in Chicago were off-loaded in Galesburg (IL). After two more trains arrived all of us were loaded on a charter bus which dropped off six in Bloomington (IN) and another dozen in Champaign-Urban (IL) to grab their connections. As we rolled back on the interstate, I am thinking – gee – we will make our connection in Indianapolis (also IN) in plenty of time, not withstanding a five hour bus trip.
I had forgotten that the IL-IN border also involves a switch from Central->Eastern time zones. Instead of having over an hour to be organized, we arrived at 2338 for a 2349 connection. That should have been plenty of time. However, there were a few on the bus who hadn’t figured out that there was a time zone change and were taking their sweet time about getting off.
I managed, along with the other three in the back of the bus to impress on the turtles that they could move, speed up or get out of the way. Smart people grabbed their gear and headed Ito the station. Which, as it turns out is a level below the tracks…. Following my new best friends who knew where to locate the elevator, we managed sardines in the contraption and held our breaths till we piled out one level up.
By dint of looking up and down the platform, I found a car with conductor standing outside it. Turns out it was even my car. Climbed in, ricocheted down the hall and collapsed into my small roomette, thinking all the while that my original alternative of staying on the train to Chicago, transferring to O’Hare and flying to Cincinnati would have me landed prior to midnight.
I was one of five getting off in Cincinnati and found this time it was stairs and elevator up (to the main station). where there was absolutely no one And I mean no one of whom to ask directions. Neither did any of the cab companies answer the phone. Ok – Lyft it is which is how I met a lovely young 30s guy named Kevin who entertained me with circaidas and local information on the drive to the hotel.
I crashed right after 0400 and just woke up. Food sounds good and coffee great along with early to bed….