Don’t worry, I am avoiding a lot of family stuff, and talk of Santa, turkeys and the rest. Suffice to say that Louise did it right, in spite of many of us suffering from some sort of winter bug. At last count, everyone was still kicking, albeit after various sad and sick episodes! We forgot the camera, but in any case the pictures would have been grey and cold, like the weather!
We did manage a quick “medical” trip to Kitchener and Elora, and took a boo at our new condo … still on schedule for April 28. We saw some of you, but missed others since you were out. Forgive us, but there is only so much you can fit into one day.
So what is there to write about? You fly in, eat turkey and fly out. Well … not quite.
The “Texas Eagle” train runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, and stops in Del Rio,Texas where we were parked. This time we had a sleeping cabin, complete with our own toilet and shower. Two days and two nights, including some shuffling in San Antonio around 2.a.m.!! We started as the last car, and ended up as the first, as they unhooked the New Orleans and Miami portion which is the Sunset Limited train.
It helps to be accustomed to smaller motor homes and trailers, since trains are even more confined in some ways. But it’s nice to be asked, “How would you like your steak cooked, sir?” as you sit in the dining car and watch the world go by. In fact the miserable bits of the journey were the flights from Chicago to Toronto. Porter Airlines is the best, but they cannot avoid the tiresome security and waiting around. On the way back we scraped into Chicago Midway just before it and O’Hare closed. As we settled into our reserved cabin in the train we realized how lucky we were!
Of course, trains have their own idiosyncrasies and glitches. Pity poor Randy, our young sleeping car attendant, who had a very bad day … one of his first assignments, and he may be re-thinking his career choice.
A huge shouting match over a faulty toilet, and the couple involved were already angry about something else. Amazing to witness the three-way conversation between customer relations on the cell phone, the “victim”, and Randy, who was not, after all, a toilet specialist.. Then the whole car lost its toilets, and Randy’s day deteriorated further. Various “experts” materialized in St. Louis, Dallas and places, but it was New Year’s Eve, and plumbers were thin on the ground. Finally, the buddy who drives the little “honey cart” arrived, scratched his head, hit a few switches, and it all came back to life.
Randy now lost his voice to laryngitis, but managed a huge sigh of relief. This only lasted until one of the passengers had a heart attack. Flashing lights, ambulances, and lots of discussion in Taylor, Texas, until one of the paramedics pointed out that the stricken lady would have to go to Austin. Some bright guy figured it out: fastest way would be by train, so most of the folk left, they fired up the locomotive, and hit the throttle. Dogs, kids and passing New Year celebrants fled for their lives as the train roared across the roads of small town Texas as never before, sounding its horn continuously and reaching Austin half-an-hour early!
Randy was finally off the hook in San Antonio, and we all settled down to sleep while they shuffled cars again. At midnight there was a crash much larger than usual. This proved to be the New Year, and we were in the middle of the San Antonio fireworks. The moral of the story remains: trains take for ever to get there, but if you have the time, they are more civilized than most other ways!
Back in Del Rio, we breathed some warm air, and the Toronto bug seems to be in retreat. The truck had a minor glitch, but that was fixed and we are now in our familiar haunt at Fort Clark Springs. We are looking forward to our condo in this year of 2011, and of course we hope that you all will have a Happy New Year.
John, with input from Elaine