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Amtrak

Train       A Trip To Remember

1998 Traci Moss

I left Naperville headed west to Albuquerque on October 9th, at 4:45 pm. Well, this was my very first train experience and I was quite excited as you can imagine. I boarded the train with high expectations....

Traveling alone left me to my own devices to make friends. No problem there. I sat in my seat for all of 30 minutes before getting up and exploring the train.

Smoking car... hmmm... not too bad..... Snack bar? I made a mental note of its location for later and kept going. The prices were pretty high and I convinced myself that I would rather wither away to nothing than pay $1 for a can of pop -- or $1.50 for a bag of chips.

On to the observation deck, and there I sat watching people waiting at crossings for my long train to pass. I sat there and laughed to myself at how long they had to wait. We had a pretty long train and I sadistically took pleasure in how late they were going to be getting to their destination. After about an hour of chatting with the nice old lady I went back to the snack bar for that pop I didn't want......

ANYWAYS....

Slowly the night drew on and I was pretty confident that the fun I had been having this far would continue......

Three o'clock in the morning... oh, the hour of sleeping children... what a wonderful hour. I was finally back in my seat, cursing myself for buying two more sodas, AND a $1.50 bag of chips...

Suddenly... over the intercom we heard, "Guito, please dial IC32, we have an emergency."

Rumors started to fly..."Some guy croaked in a sleeper car. Poor guy" everyone was whispering as we pulled into Kansas City .....

THREE HOURS LATER.....

I'm back down in the smoking room getting pretty slap happy with my new chums (as you know all smokers have a common bond -- we love each other from the minute we see that cigarette clutched between each other's beautiful, friendly lips.) At this point we are still sitting in Kansas City, waiting for the coroner to show up -- those rumors were very accurate -- and talking about raiding the snack bar for the $3.50 beer.

We shared the station with a few freight trains and every once in a while one would roll past. To a sleepy eye it appeared that we were moving. I personally think that was the hardest part, seeing all those trains go by without a care in the world...

AND ON TIME!!!

Finally around 6am, after 3 or 4 fake outs we started out. From there we went through Kansas (a.k.a. Hell on Earth) and on towards the mountains of Colorado. Things were going good and we were all convinced we would make up the time...

About halfway up the mountain the conductor discovers... "Ut-oh, not enough power to pull these bad boys up the mountain!!!!" So there we sat again, this time in a pitch black tunnel, for half an hour... By now we were 3 1/2 hours behind schedule, mind you, and we were all resigned to the fact that this was a Twilight Zone episode.

A Sante Fe engine came and rescued us....

WE WERE ON OUR WAY AGAIN.

No way could ANYTHING else happen to slow us down. Who would ever think that three things could happen to one train?! No, we were on our way boy, the worst was behind us..........

I continued making my rounds.....smoking room, snack bar, observation deck, back to my seat to see if my roomie might have awaken (he was a major seat hog and my butt would never have fit in the three inches he left.) I had friends ALL over that train!!!

Most of New Mexico was pretty uneventful. We were getting close to Albuquerque (I asked the conductor "How much longer" every half hour just for kicks, and every answer was "Just half hour left now."

My most recent inquiry brought a response that it was just 15 minutes away, NOW we were getting close! Three minutes later, about 12 minutes outside of Albuquerque, we stopped suddenly. "Now what could possibly be wrong?" was the general consensus. My smoking buds elected me as the one to find out what was going on.

I asked the conductor and this is basically what I came up with..... there was a bucket of spikes that was left on the rail and WE just HAPPENED to hit it... and blew an air hose. Now we had to wait for someone or other to bring some tools and man-stuff and come rescue us.

It was Guito -- the guy from the tragedy in Kansas City -- the hero -- who gave me the news. Before I went down to tell my friends I feigned hysteria (for my own kicks). I don't know what possessed me to torture this guy but I'm laughing now. That must be why. (I guess I was pretty believable because I threw Guito into a state of shock.) After apologizing and assuring him that I was okay, I went back down to tell everyone that we would be stuck for another half hour.

At this point I made a deal with myself... I WANTED to pull the emergency exit and just walk the rest of the way but I decided that I would save such measures for a real emergency....it was hard seeing as how I had been awake for approximately 36 hours and I was SURE I was dying. Soon we were on our way. (Amazingly it only took the half hour promised.).

We finally pulled into the Albuquerque station at 8:30 pm...about four hours late.... What an ordeal!

I go back to Chicago on the Amtrak tomorrow.......I wonder, do you think I should call my boss and tell him I'm going to be late????

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