Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Night 6: On the Lake Shore Limited

After our near-brush with the Anti Photography Terrorism Authorities, we headed back in the general direction of our hotel. We were hungry, but not hugely so, but we knew we needed to get something because our train was scheduled for a 21:00 departure and wouldn't include food more solid than a cheese plate offered to sleeping car passengers before departure and whatever we might scrounge in the Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station.

We weren't in the mood for a big fancy meal, nor were we dressed for it in our Anticipation t-shirts and floppy hats. We walked from Millennium Station through the Loop toward Union Station, stopping for a Jamba Juice along the way, which helped. Lisa didn't want to just get something from a big fast-food chain, and I understand that. We ended up back over in Greektown and went into a 24-hour place and got a gyro for her and a Polish sausage for me. That was just fine by us, and after eating more than our fill – they gave us way too many fries with that combo – we were happy to walk some of it off back to the hotel.

At the hotel, we reclaimed our bags. They asked if we needed a taxi, but as it was not raining, we declined, saying we could walk to Union Station ourselves. (Besides, after our last taxi experience, I'm afraid that if I asked to be taken to Union Station, the driver would have headed for Union, IL instead.)

We hied ourselves over to the station and found the Metropolitan Lounge. We got there about 19:45 and the attendant asked us which train we were on. When we said the Lake Shore Limited, he pointed to the side door and told us to get on down there as they were doing early boarding for the sleeping-car passengers. We managed to turn the wrong way and found ourselves among passengers heading for the Hiawatha instead, but extricated ourselves from that.

Coming back the other way, another attendant shooed us back into the lounge and said she'd send someone to get us in a few minutes. I fired up the computer but found that the wi-fi in the Lounge was down. I got Lisa and me a glass of water and we waited until they came to collect us. While it's nice to have a separate First Class lounge, I've seen better ones than this. And if the trains are on time, we're likely to be here for a few hours on the way back from Montreal.

Eventually an attendant came and drove us and our luggage in a little cart to our sleeping car, 62009 Evening View. This is our first experience with a non-Superliner sleeper, and we discovered the hard way that it doesn't have the luggage racks that Superliners do. Our car attendant was dismayed, particularly at my large blue bag. "Why didn't you check it?" he asked.

"Because I didn't realize that there was no on-board rack," I said, "and nobody at the lounge told us we needed to do so." The attendant went off to see if he could put my bag in the baggage car. Lisa went to work trying to find places to put the rest of our bags. She found those places. The Viewliner sleepers are taller than their Superliner counterparts and have a sort of "attic" near the roof where you can stow medium-sized bags, which fit most of our luggage except the big blue one. By the time she got everything else put away, the attendant came back and took my large blue bag back to the baggage car and said I could get it at Schenectady. I hope we aren't too badly squeezed on the Adirondack, but I'm worried. We're right at the edge of the Amtrak carry-on policy, with two carry-ons plus a personal item each, and that's with me packing my briefcase into my large suitcase.

We then went down to the diner for the sleeping car passenger reception, where they gave us cheese and fruit platters and complimentary beverages. Most of the people on our car appear to be with a tour group (America by Rail), which may explain why I couldn't get us a Bedroom even though I could have dug up the AGR points to do so. While chatting with the couple across from us – who had traveled extensively in Europe by rail – our train pulled out "on the advertised" at 21:00.

When we returned to our compartment, we found that the attendant had made it up for us, but we really weren't ready to go to bed, so Lisa converted it back to seats. We figured out mostly how to set up some of our stuff. I got my computer fired up and wrote stuff about our very busy day. I also got the radio running, having found the lists of frequencies used along our route on Monday morning at the hotel.

Although this compartment is taller than a Superliner, it feels a bit more cramped. Maybe because they had to squeeze a toilet and sink into each compartment rather than having several shared toilets downstairs for the roomettes, the rooms don't seem as big here. We're obviously spoiled by the Wide Open Layouts of the Wild West.

I set my clock ahead to Eastern time and saw that we were right on time – actually one minute early by my reckoning – out of South Bend, Indiana. (We would subsequently lose time through a series of slow orders and signal malfunctions.) After a while, Lisa said she wanted something more to drink than the bottle of water that came with our room, and went exploring, finding the lounge. Around 00:30, Lisa returned with a soda for her and a milk for me. I finished up writing, read things back to Lisa and listened to her suggestions, drank my milk, and around 01:00 she turned the compartment back into a sleeper and we turned in for the night.
Tags: amtrak, train, travel, worldcon
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