I hadn't been on the train for at least a couple of years. I sneak on the forum to still see what's going on, of course hearing of changes. So I was interested to see if my ride would be much different, which it wasn't. I was also excited this was a solo train trip, just me. I made some of my skinny oatmeal cookies to take with me and really enjoyed them for snacking with hot tea. I sort of became more healthy last year and lost some weight, yay for me! First time on the train trying to eat lower fat, lower calorie, you don't have many choices on the train.
I was going down from Denver to New Orleans to meet up with my mom and sister, who flew, to go on the Carnival Dream Premier Casino cruise. Carnival had given my mom and I $1000 each to play on so we couldn't resist.
I decided to take Uber to the station on the day I left, first time using Uber. The Uber driver was at my house in 5 minutes. I ended up at the Denver Station at 3:30 with a train departure of 7:10. The day was January 2nd and the station was packed full of people. I was able to see the Christmas decorations, had a latte at Pigtrain and then had an early dinner at Next Door. I had a chicken sandwich there and it was pretty good. I originally was going to eat at the Mercantile but they had a super small menu at the time with nothing that looked healthy.
Then I settled in to the wood benches to wait for the train. All of a sudden people were gathering their things and heading out the door to the train, I didn't hear an announcement. I trudged out to the track and they were already scanning tickets in the line. It was really cold waiting in the line. Of course the wait seemed forever but it probably wasn't that long. It would be nice if they could put some heaters out there.
I had a seatmate who got off in Lincoln which was nice that I had the two seats to myself the rest of the way to Chicago. For breakfast the next morning I had runny scrambled eggs, watery chicken sausage, croissant and hot tea. For lunch the next day I had the Romaine and goat cheese salad with grilled chicken and iced tea. I thought the salad was good.
We arrived in Chicago on time I think. I made my way to the Legacy Club and it was open. Paid the $20 and relaxed in comfort until time to board the CONO. I loved the Legacy Club. I think at most there was about 20 people in there at one time. I bought a chicken sandwich with avocado at Pret a Manger, it was yummy. I like this place, this was my first time in one. We were escorted to the track at boarding time.
On the CONO, I was hoping to get the bulkhead by the stairs, a family was in it and the attendant sat me by the husband. Which would have been fine but he seemed nervous and was like he was spinning in the chair So I went back down and requested a different seat and was put behind the family. I'm glad I did, the husband was constantly on the move, though he did disappear during the night. My seatmate was a quiet man who got off in Carbondale, so again two seats to myself the rest of the way in. I had the turkey sausage bowl with egg whites and potatoes for breakfast and I thought it was pretty good, hot tea.
At lunchtime I made my way to the dining/lounge car and the lounge attendant told me the dining was full but I could order something to go. The dining attendant was standing behind the lounge gal doing something. I ordered a salad and the dining attendant said I could sit in the dining car, great! I had salad with turkey, Parmesan cheese, tomato, chocolate chip cookie and hot tea. I really liked the chocolate chip cookies, so I bought a couple to take off the train with me.
Arrived in New Orleans a little late, took a taxi to Harrah's hotel. We stayed there a couple of nights. We went and played in the casino for a little bit, no luck for any of us. We had dinner at Fuddrucker's in the casino and went back to the room to lounge.
The next morning my sister wanted to get out and see something besides the casino. We went to the French Market and had yummy corn on the cobb, a delicious healthy crab cake and then made our way to Cafe Dumonde for beignets and coffee. I had 3 beignets Took the bike taxi back to Harrah's and gambled a bit, no luck again.
Cruise Day! Boarding the ship was easy, headed up for our first buffet. The cruise was nice. Since this was a premier cruise, we had things delivered to our cabin every day. Plastic cups, chocolate strawberries, cookies, champagne and a couple of other things. The casino would have drawings everyday. My mom placed second in the slot tournament for $400. The casino was always pretty crowded so I didn't spend a whole lot of time in there. We went to shows, trivia, comedy. Food on the cruise was okay. On the buffet at lunch they have delicious cakes, that was my main unhealthy food for the cruise. I ate way too much cake I would not do the Premier Casino cruise again, the casino is too small and that's the idea of this cruise. On Tuesday(we boarded Sunday), my nose got stuffy, I thought it was the smoke in the casino. Oh not so, it was a cold I spent the majority of the cruise sick. Not horribly sick but still sick. I managed to get off in Jamaica with my sister but stayed on board as my mom and sister got off in Cozumel. Bummer.
On the last day of the cruise I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a sleeper from CHI to DEN, I already had a roomette for NOL to CHI, since I wasn't feeling to well. When we arrived in New Orleans I looked up the price of a roomette, $329. It was a little pricey and not sure I wanted to pay that and would just manage in coach. After we disembarked we went to Harrah's again to kill time. I was super lucky, I hit a small jackpot for $500, well guess what I was getting I just hoped the price of the roomette held until I got to the train station as I was going to pay with the cash I just won! I was so happy and relieved, I could totally be by myself with my runny nose, yay. I also decided to send my large suitcase with my mom and sister on the plane so I wouldn't have to mess with it. I'm happy at this point, right, everything was good.
Boarded the train and my roomette #3. It was a relief, I could just rest now. Jonathon the attendant was super nice and kept toilets clean. The only negative, I don't think there was any heat in my roomette. I became pretty cold while sleeping and had to put my sweater and coat on me. For dinner I had the Mediterranean chicken with the tomato sauce on the side. It was served with cheese polenta and a ratatouille. The polenta was okay and the ratatouille was mixed with the tomato sauce which I didn't care for, so I just ate the chicken breast. Breakfast was the continental, cinnamon roll, yogurt and fruit. It was fresh fruit, strawberries and oranges. I had 1/2 the roll and the yogurt, thinking I would get something at the station.
Chicago, headed for the Metropolitan lounge. Checked in, stored my two little bags and went to Starbucks, ate and then came back and lounged. I liked this lounge also. I liked the espresso machine, I drank ambient water and later I really liked the fresh vegetables and cheese. A policeman and his dog came through the lounge twice. I thought about taking a shower but didn't have a hair dryer but I don't think I would have been comfortable in the restroom doing my hair. I think the restroom needs some plain counters a woman could freshen up without having to do this over a sink. It's not that big in there.
Time to board, we were told where to go, I followed a passenger who knew. Boarded my car and went to roomette #8, so happy to finish my trip. And then...
All of sudden some strange man's face is looking in my roomette, asked me if it was roomette 8, I said yes, thinking he was in the wrong car, then he asked me again, yes. Then he said he was so and so and showed me some big star of a badge. What in the heck Still not feeling well and head spinning trying to wrap it around who this guy was and what he was doing. Yep, I got questioned and he asked to search my bags, which I said I didn't want him to mainly because I didn't know how dirty his hands were but go ahead, I have nothing to hide. I don't think he saw much in my bags because they were packed so full of trip stuff. He finally left, another guy was him. This really shook me up, I think because of being sick. It took me a little bit to settle down and then I was okay, thank goodness I didn't get pulled off of the train!
Arrived home, had a decent nights sleep and then was mad the next day because they questioned me. There is nothing in my history of riding that warranted a search. I did write to Amtrak a lengthy email of what I did and why this search should not of happened. I'm still mad. They did reply, it's for keeping everyone safe, they have random searches. I told them they needed a new system. The email said they would keep my email on file.
I know why they do the searches but to randomly pull people is not right. I'm guessing this was because I purchased the room with cash? I'm thinking maybe looking up trip history would tell them I don't regularly ride and don't regularly buy rooms at the last minute. Does the system alert or is it the agent at the station who alerts? Came home and thought, were they watching me in Chicago? Did they know who I was or had to wait until I boarded? And who were those guys again who questioned me? Starts to get creepy thinking about it. They searched the guy in roomette 6 also.
Yesterday, we noticed a work van sitting in front of our house, I told my mom, are they doing surveillance on me?
I feel I need a do over for my trip. Still have a little bit of the creeping crud. Leary of riding Amtrak now, don't know why. I don't want to be watched, hope it is over.
Thanks for reading!