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Blog posts about upcoming newbie train trip


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#1 Austruck

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 01:24 PM

In addition to writing a book on/during/about my upcoming train trip, I'm teasing my readers with blog posts as I prepare for the trip, too. You can find humor in the smallest places, if you look hard enough...

 

 

Here was the first one, about a travel tips flyer included with the money belt I bought for the trip:

 

http://viciouscircle...ady-Im-Confused

 

 

And today's entry was me asking myself why I'd submit to this sort of trip in the first place:

 

http://viciouscircle...-Friendly-Skies

 

 

I might as well exploit my uninitiated status and milk it for all the humor I can get. Hope you get a chuckle out of these!

 

 

 

[Apologies for having originally placed this post in the wrong subforum!]


Edited by Austruck, 16 January 2017 - 01:44 PM.


#2 stephanie

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 06:53 PM

I've found that people respond in one of two ways when you tell them you're taking a multi-day train trip: excitement or horror. I've still not found anything in-between. Most of my friends seem to fall into the former category, but I still encounter those in the latter. Though I haven't told many people about my round-trip Empire Builder trip I'm planning in April... I wonder whether that'll change anyone's tune!

 

I loved every minute of the California Zephyr. Even the delays (which got up to 4 hrs, but down to 2 by the time we arrived in Galesburg). If I'm being completely honest, I was hoping we'd get MORE delayed, because it would mean more time in the train. But I know that starts messing with crew schedules, and it stresses everyone out. 

 

I think the thing that I'd least expected before taking any multi-day trips was how much the whole sleeper car felt like a sort of quiet safe haven. I rarely closed my door or pulled my curtain when I was in the room, though it was great to know that I could wall myself off if I wanted to. I'm a pretty strong introvert, but I honestly liked the easy socialization of the train. There's no commitment to deep conversation (or any conversation, really), and the conversation starters are gimmes: where are you from/headed, have you taken this train before, etc., and go from there. I could find something in common, or at least something to talk about, with most everyone. I also made a plan ahead of time to get alone time by getting myself up VERY early in the morning (4-5am). No line for the shower, no one waiting to get in, I got first crack at the coffee (once the much-awaited orange light went on!), and I was generally first to the lounge and one of the first to breakfast. 

 

I still consider myself a long-distance train newbie, but I'll share a few tips that seemed to be hits with fellow passengers recently:

 

1) Bring a travel coffee cup of some kind, if you like tea or coffee. I'm a huge fan of hydro flask -- the coffee stays hot for many hours. Coffee is available from a pot in the sleeper in the am, but you can get hot water in the cafe all day long. Much easier to manage on a sometimes-wobbly train with a spillproof cup!

 

2) When taking pictures, especially with your cellphone, put it right up against the glass. I was surprised that wasn't obvious to more people. It doesn't work so well when the windows are wet, but it'll eliminate the glare and help you focus on the outside rather than the glass. 

 

3) I was surprised at how many people I encountered who hadn't thought about bringing a book, or an audiobook pre-loaded to their phone, or other hobby to work on in-between everything else. Cell service was pretty spotty on the Zephyr, so I wouldn't have wanted to try to stream or download a book while enroute!! 



#3 Austruck

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 07:04 PM

Thanks for this great response. I admit I probably wouldn't have thought about the camera-against-the-window trick. I do have a travel mug with a screw-on lid on my packing list but I hadn't thought about something even more specialized. :)

 

I'm a huge night owl so I think the early morning idea is NOT a go for me. I'll wait till after breakfast and before lunch to shower, methinks. I read somewhere else that tables in the lounge aren't as popular as the swivel seats. Hope that's true on my trip because I'd prefer a table much of the time. I'll likely be writing a lot of the time and although I can write on my lap, a table is easier.

 

I too am an introvert, though I manage all right and don't seem like one to strangers who meet me. I thought the same thing: that the typical conversation starters of "Where are you fromt?" and "Where are you going?" would make just about every meal in the dining car a lot less awkward.

 

I just need the alone-time to recharge every day. The roomette or bedroom seems like the perfect hideaway to recharge and write/read if the more public areas are too noisy or too crowded.

 

The Kindle is loaded with a bajillion books already, plus I'll bring along at least one physical print book. (My very first Kindle's screen went wonky on me the first day of a long cruise and I was book-less the entire trip! Although Amazon replaced it with a new one overnight once I got home, that didn't help me during the trip. Lesson learned.)

 

I'm ridiculously excited about this trip -- a true bucket-list item for me. :)

 

Thanks again for this great post. I enjoyed reading it (and rereading it just now)!



#4 anuenue

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 08:20 PM

Great tips, thanks!

 

Here are some of my tips about cell phone photography:  Did you know that there are lots of special lenses you can get for cell phones now?  There's a multitude of choices at amazon.com.  Some come with dedicated cases for specific phones, and some are universal clip-on's.  I just got a nice telephoto lens (you can also get close-up, wide-angle, and fish eye lenses).  Given the speed of the train, it probably won't be that useful while *on* the train, but I do plan to use it at my overnight destinations.  I'm especially looking forward to Glacier National Park in Montana.  It's really worth learning how the camera works and all the great features it probably has, and also reading up on some tips on how to frame your subject, and all that jazz.  With spotty cell service, you might not want to rely on cloud storage for pictures.  If you take a gzillion pictures like I do, grab yourself a usb flash drive that's compatible with your phone.


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#5 stephanie

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 08:38 PM

Great tips, thanks!

 

Here are some of my tips about cell phone photography:  Did you know that there are lots of special lenses you can get for cell phones now?  There's a multitude of choices at amazon.com.  Some come with dedicated cases for specific phones, and some are universal clip-on's.  I just got a nice telephoto lens (you can also get close-up, wide-angle, and fish eye lenses).  Given the speed of the train, it probably won't be that useful while *on* the train, but I do plan to use it at my overnight destinations.  I'm especially looking forward to Glacier National Park in Montana.  It's really worth learning how the camera works and all the great features it probably has, and also reading up on some tips on how to frame your subject, and all that jazz.  With spotty cell service, you might not want to rely on cloud storage for pictures.  If you take a gzillion pictures like I do, grab yourself a usb flash drive that's compatible with your phone.

 

ooh, good point!! I need to get one before my Empire Builder trip in April. I'm SO excited about seeing Glacier!!



#6 Sauve850

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:52 PM

Thanks for the tips on the lenses. I use a DSLR camera but more and more find myself grabbing my cell phone with decent results. Glacier NP is a great place for photography.



#7 jis

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 08:54 AM

For photography from a moving train using a DSLR get an as fast as you can afford zoom lens. It is the affordability that gets in the way, but once you bite the bullet and get one, the results are quite spectacular.

#8 KmH

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 05:44 PM

In a bi-level Superliner SSL car many of the upper level seats don't swivel.

 

Of those that can, the release that allows the seat to swivel for many of them doesn't work.


1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 





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