Thursday 22 March Day 30 ~ Tucson, AZ to Austin, TX
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Friday 13 April
Bus stop near to hotel, regular buses to the bus station opposite the train station. We just miss one but another in 10 minutes or so, no problem. On top of which we checked just before leaving the hotel that our Texas Eagle through to Austin was running 33 minutes late, we'll be at the station way before it arrives.
Arrive at bus station at 7:55am, not hurried as it's a 3 minute walk to the Amtrak station and our train doesn't leave until 9:15am. We have a sleeper so no rush to get the 'right' seat in coach. Stop and admire our surroundings and walk through the station, there's a train at the platform but can't be ours as it's 33 minutes late. No obvious order to the people lining up, no coach line and sleeper line just a melee of people waiting at 2 gates near the platform. After 5 minutes find an Amtrak employee and ask if there is a line for sleeper passengers, "No, just board when called". Which train is that at the platform? "The Sunset/Texas Eagle eastbound" . That's our train, what's going on it's around 8:10am. What time does it leave? "At 8:15am but it's running a little late".
It sinks in, have we made an enormous mistake and got away with it, if on time it would be pulling out now and we were so casual thinking it couldn't be ours. I look after all the tickets and thought I'd checked that morning but maybe I'm too confident and didn't. Pull the ticket out, it's got 9:15am clear as clear, surely changing time zones is taken into account when the ticket is issued? Is the change to Daylight Saving time affecting it. Look at the ticket again and there it is, 9:15am Thursday 22 March. If it had been on time we could possibly have been running own the platform trying to get on, I'm in a cold sweat as still don't understand, could this happen elsewhere?
Not to worry, we are on the train in our sleeper car, the Sleeping Car Attendant (SCA) has reserved 2 breakfast places for us. He was this thoughtful throughout the next 24 hours and one of the best we have met.
We're seated with another couple but they are not a couple, just seated together. They both are not native to Tucson but incomers. Arrived for different reasons and have not intention of ever leaving. She has lived in Tucson for 15 years, he for 8. They explained why they were there, why they wouldn't leave and they found out they lived either side of the same hill. She has a BBQ every Christmas and lots of people are invited, he now has his invite for next Christmas. Yet again the wonder of the Amtrak diner always connecting people.
The second diner attendant was Paul, we met him last year when riding the Sunset Limited version of this train. No less abrupt than last year but after 2 1/2 days of him last year we just laughed at his abruptness as he has a soft inner.
A couple of photos for folk who have never ridden an Amtrak long distance (LD) train before.
First is the TE sleeper car, it's the last one at the rear of the train with the 'train fan' window where you can watch the track disappearing behind you. To the left is the upper level toilet, opposite is a small stand with coffee, fruit juice (if you're lucky), bottled water sometimes, and ice sometimes. First door on the left is the SCA sleeping/office compartment, all the others are roomette sleeper compartments.
Second is the rear of the dining car, picture windows, comfy booths to sit at a table to eat and drink while the world goes past, not a better way and place to travel, anywhere.
We love the Arizona and New Mexico scenery, Rosie goes to the sightseeing lounge (SSL) and I back to our roomette to put my feet up and stare out the window. Here a few photos as a taste but not our best.
View from the Rail fan window at the rear, it's a big sky
These almost looked like salt pans?
Rock formations of all sorts
At one point the track curved first one way and then back again, this happen several times in quick succession
A very American view from the window
This photo is to show the spots that dry on the outside of the window when it is washed and rinsed off. The out of 5 attempts to focus the camera it will focus 4 times on a spot rather the subject in the distance
In the SSL Rosie sits with John and Mary, Americans (he was born in N Ireland though), they live in Chile for 9 months of the year and San Francisco for the remaining 3. When we're are called for lunch I'm off to find Rosie, she introduces us and we decide to lunch together.
Rosie said that I would want to hear their story and how right she was. Within 30 minutes John and I were talking as though we had known each other all our lives, an extraordinary event for both of us I think. Just to say they were full of life, have lots of questions and a few answers. They both had very good jobs in their working lives and now have adventures in north and south America. We four spent the rest of the day together until late evening. We're headed to Argentina and Chile when Brexit is settled, I'm sure we'll meet up with them again.
During the day the train runs close to the US/Mexican border, a very current area of the world. There are others here with better photos than we have but these are right up to date taken about 3 weeks ago.
A bit like the Great Wall of China, the border fence snaking across the hills
That's Mexico just over there. The river/canal can just be seen to the left center of the photo beyond the fence
The fence just sort of ends, now what?
This high level road is being built between the fence and the river, anyone know why?
Tomorrow morning our section of the train arrives in Austin, TX. If we're lucky Bob Dylan is there to meet us, can't wait.
Edited by v v, 13 April 2018 - 07:35 PM.