Monday, July 5, 2010

The Day of the First Train

Pictured in left photo: left is Andre, right Neal. In right photo is Brandon. The singularly most helpful young men at the Virginian Suites in Arlington, VA.

This morning started out very early. We woke up at 3 (a.m. that is); got a taxi at 4; and then we were off to the Amtrak Station. Considering we'd gotten to sleep at around 1, it was an interesting morning.

We got to the Amtrak station at about 4:20. No one else in line. Nice. I show Rudy (the very considerate, helpful ticket agent) my ID; he takes care of me -- 1 - 2 -3. Now Rachel's turn. Rudy takes her info, takes her ID.

Can't find her. Can't find her on the paper printout. Goes into the computer. Finds her. YES!

Nope. Apparently there was some kind of mix up; the people who take the payment on the phone have to communicate the information to the people who assign the seats. Somebody dropped the ball, according to Rudy. Now it's getting to be crunch time. It's almost time to board. Rudy (God love him) had called customer service, asked for a supervisor, told them the story. But it's crunch time. The announcer announces our train boarding. We go up to the window.

Yay!!! Just as Rudy was looking on the computer one more time, he discovered it was done. Whoohoo!! On the train we go.

So, did I mention what I'm wearing? Jeans, Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt, Pittsburgh Chucks, and a sweater. Cuz I know it's gonna be cool, kinda like on a plane. Know what Rach is wearing? T-shirt and shorts. Flip-flops. It's like effing Alaska in the compartment we're in. We have no blankets, no pillows, nothing. But... Amtrak IS the way to fly!! First of all, you can check three bags for free!!!! There is so much leg room, the seats recline, there is a foot rest that comes up from under the seat, and they offer complimentary pillows, unlike the ones you pay for on the airplane. Of course, your trip is a tad bit longer, but hey. What do teachers have to do over the summer, anyway?

Do you know they have a dining compartment? A lounge compartment? A sleeper compartment? Wow. Just amazing.

So the dining compartment is full by the time we decide to actually eat (we did get up at 3, you know). "Let's just go to the lounge compartment, get something HOT, try to defrost, and then go back up." Ok.

Dude in the lounge is a straight-up GROUCH. Just, I dunno. Like EEEEEOOOUUU. Get me outta here. Didn't bother to get his name. ICK.

Rachel had to pee 20 times. Nah, just an exaggeration. Really only 19. Cuz it was cold, she says....

About to really doze into a nice slumber (this probably happened five times), when there's some kind of an announcement: we're stopping somewhere, the dining car is open, the lounge is open; whatever. Like you're in a hospital room, and the nurses come in every hour to take blood or your pulse or whatever.

We finally get a pillow, almost there, can just taste the sweet freedom of dreamville. Steven is about to ...

Ah crap. Rachel wakes me up. Time to give the pillow back. WHAT???

The stewardess lady (whatever they're called on the train) says, "We're almost there. Deal with it." Not in a really nasty way, but really? Deal with it? Not, "I'm sorry, we're almost there"?

So here we are. In Union Station in D.C. What now? We have to ask directions at the Traveler Information Center. Where we meet the second biggest Steelers fan in the universe. And two other extremely wonderfully awesome helpful people. They were apparently Redskins fans, but hey. SIX, count them, SIX.

We have to get to Virginian Suites in Arlington, VA (duh, they're in Virginia! Check out a map and see how close D.C. is to Virginia!) So we have been helped by the most helpful staff at the Traveler Information Kiosk, but now we're on our own. Until Lady with Red Hair comes up behind us and tells us that she is going that way! Wow. I love this town. We also had a very helpful Metro worker who put money in the machine for us and told us how to work it. But Lady with Red Hair, who used to live here and still has a daughter who lives here, who is also a TEACHER (the daughter is), is now basically baby sitting us and making sure we get on the right train. Unbelievable. Do you believe in coincidence? Fate? or Purpose? I believe in Purpose. I believe things happen for a reason. Everything happens for a reason.

We make it to Virginian Suites. I have to do a little ad campaign (not that I have to, but I want to) for Virginian Suites. This place is the VERY best we've been to so far. They are suites, after all; but they go beyond that. The people are friendly and very helpful, always cheerful, and always smiling. They make you feel at home. This place had the lowest prices of all the places we're going to; yet, they have a pool, a full-sized refrigerator in the room, a fold out bed, a sitting area, a binder with information about the town, and a laundry facility. I thought I'd reached heaven at the Double Tree in Philadelphia? Uh-uh. No way. This is it. This is heaven. I can have clean undies for tomorrow!!!

One more extremely important event happened tonight, but that has to be a separate blog. It will be "The Reunion". Look for it tomorrow. Gotta go to bed now.


  1. Rachel has problems with tickets. Just ask her about flights out of SLC. And 19x peeing? How many times did she sneeze in the sun? ;) Love you Rachel!

  2. Don't have a stupid google account so I used Susan's... this is really Rachel. When did this turn into a Rachel-bash? :) Anyone who has sat in a cold room knows that triggers the blatter. Besides, Susan fed me liquids... this is all her fault!

  3. I hope that I get to see the two of you again. Feel free to keep in touch. Look me up on facebook. Brandon Payne