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London to Baja California ~ across America

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I noticed that things had gone rather quiet on this thread. Fingers crossed that you and Rosie are both well...

 

Ed.

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:hi:Rosie and Jamie are on the way back to England via Moscow due to Rosie needing surgery  in London on her eye Eddie.:(

Jamie posted in another Forum here on AU but due to my Senior Memory ,can't remember which one off hand??

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Yup, we should be taking off for Moscow in a few minutes time, but are already back in London! Things moved fast Bob, will write it all up later. 

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Sorry to hear, hope for a full recovery...

 

Ed

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9 hours ago, caravanman said:

Sorry to hear, hope for a full recovery...

 

Ed

Same here, saw your other thread and it sounds hopeful...

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51 minutes ago, oregon pioneer said:

Same here, saw your other thread and it sounds hopeful...

 

This is Rosie and I would like to thank everyone for their concern and good wishes. I went back to the hospital this morning and had further tests which confirmed that there is no damage to the retina. The visual disturbance should gradually clear and no treatment is needed.

The second consultant confirmed that we did the right thing by returning to the UK to get it checked and has written a letter saying so to back up a travel insurance claim.

We should be on The Texas Eagle at the moment and we are both very disappointed to have had to shorten our travels. We always try to look for a positive though and once again it has been the kindness shown by the wonderful people on this forum. Thank you all.

The blog will continue as soon as we get settled again.

Rosie

Edited by v v

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Gosh, just so pleased that things seem to be working out to be ok... Can someone point me towards the post/thread where more information is?

Ed.

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5 minutes ago, caravanman said:

Gosh, just so pleased that things seem to be working out to be ok... Can someone point me towards the post/thread where more information is?

Ed.

 

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Friday 21 December Day 8  ~  north Atlantic nearing Canada/USA, last sea day
Updated Brentwood, Essex, UK ~ Wednesday 23 January 2019

 

To slowly re-start the blog here are a few photos, accompanying blog text to follow

The balcony seen through our cabin, we found it a boon just to stay in touch with the world outside the ship, plus as much fresh air as your heart desires.

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The balcony is permanently open to the sea, although enclosed around the window opening to the ocean. The remainder is almost completely closed above and to the sides.

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Edited by v v

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Saturday 22 December Day 9 ~  travelling up river to New York City - very early morning
Updated Brentwood, Essex, UK ~ Thursday 24 January 2019

 

Arriving NYC passing world renown iconic monuments. Having visited Cobh in Ireland where many/most Irish immigrants started from we wanted to see what they saw arriving by ship. First Liberty followed by Ellis Island. Very moving for us as we imagine the hopes and dreams of the millions on first seeing Liberty.

The Queen Mary 2 glides sedately towards it's berth at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, located at Red Hook

Some blog text to follow.

 

Liberty seen from the river, quite magnificent

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Just before dawn a panorama. Liberty, NYC ferry, Ellis Island and Manhattan

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Iconic sight

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...  and dawn breaks quite quickly, completely different effect once light

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A view seen only from a ship docking at Red Hook

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In fact this time from this ship

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Chrysler Building, one of our favourites

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All aboard! Wrong transport but looks about right

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Liberty under the bow

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Looks like a proper Ocean Liner from here, and have to say it does look the part when onboard too. Nothing but admiration for the quality, lines and style of this superb ship.

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Edited by v v

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I'm glad no treatment is needed, Rosie, but it was smart of you both to do the sensible thing and go home to get things checked out.

Also glad that you both got to do the sea crossing:).

Jim, you'll keep up the standards on the Texas Eagle til Jamie and Rosie get a chance to come back, right?:giggle:

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Friday 21 December Day 8  ~  north Atlantic nearing Canada/USA, last sea day  -  Continuation of post #159
Updated central France ~ Sunday 27 January 2019

 

Last day at sea was pretty quiet, but a few characters started to appear. David (the singing history lecturer) and I had again stayed up the previous evening 'til (very) late sitting under the Christmas tree in the foyer talking about life, then more life. This morning Rosie went to breakfast alone, I missed it. She didn't eat alone as she sat with real life Wayne and Waynetta with a background to match. Very forthright with strong opinions but nice people all the same.

Late in the morning I had brunch with Rosie drinking tea, then along comes a close match to The Big Lebowski in the supermarket scene from the first movie. We'd eaten sitting close to him a few times, he was a large man who was a carer for a heavily disabled American man. In our presence they never talked but he arranged everything at meal times for the man in his care and moved him around the ship.

This is the theory. He has less regard than me for pomp, standards rules and regulations, but he was critical help to the man in his care. Over the week his dress code had gone from casual to extremely casual, not only shorts at the evening meal but eventually torn shorts, no socks etc. Outside the Captain we reckoned he was the only other person on the ship nobody could reproach, and of course he got away with it.

This brunch time he turned up in his dressing gown and open flip flops/thongs, very unshaven too. Meandered around picking at this and that food and then went, no one said a word. He wasn't dissimilar to Jeff Bridges to look at either.

The sea was also quiet with almost no roll or pitching, slight sea in a force 6.

Packing and getting ready for 3 1/2 days travel, 2 of our bags will go through to Los Angeles so decisions to be made.

Here's a whinge, a note on the ship's internet. The internet is fabulously expensive on the QM2, it's almost unusable too. The official suggestion if you couldn't make a connection was to open the cabin door to the passageway, and sometimes it helped to knock 2 minutes of a possible 6 minute wait to open a regular web page, if you could connect your computer in the first place. Cunard, everything about your internet is highway robbery and sold under false pretences, pure cr.p.

The last meal in the Britannia restaurant was a little flat. Everyone looked a bit tired, maybe the after dinner formal affair of the previous evening had taken it out of many? The people on our table looked as though their mind was elsewhere, both couples were transferring to a Norwegian Line ship for the cruise down to the Caribean but had made different arrangements to get to the dock that ship would berth at, plus to see New York City as you approach Liberty you had to be awake and dressed by 5am.

As we walked back to our cabin that evening we met with the couple we had met at check-in at Southampton, they of 9 cases. They had booked a suit about 6 or 7 decks above us, very posh indeed. It was also near the bow. He said "there were many times we wished we had had your cabin, low down and mid-ships". We were ill for the first two days and on the rough days at sea the drawers would shoot out of the chest to spill clothes over the floor, and feeling poorly had stopped them drinking! They did laugh at this but said there were times he would have offered a lot of money for our cabin.

Two of our cases had to be left outside the cabin door to be collected and transferred ashore for us on docking in the morning, all done in good time.

Late in the evening went to get a couple of cups of tea from the cafeteria, on the deck above ours the crew were painfully loading cases onto large trolleys to take below. Some of the handling was not careful. Walking along thinking the poor people whose bags were being loaded that evening...

Have to say at this point, apart from baggage handling the staff were immaculate, and friendly too.

 

Edited by v v

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Saturday 22 December Day 9 ~  arriving in New York City - morning  -  Continuation of post #160
France ~ Monday 28 January 2019

 

We are glued to our balcony watching the world pass the Mary, mainly dry and bright early morning showed each iconic sight at it's best. This has to be the direction to travel, arrival in Southampton just wouldn't be the same, trust me.

After the fascinating arrival up river to New York City we have breakfast by 8:00 am, now have to wait until 10:00 am to disembark. The gathering point for many of us is the Queens Room in the bow, pleasant and comfortable, we make it there by around 9:00am

We soon realise that the group who were to disembark at 9:00 am are still there, they left at 10:00am, we were called at 10:50 am. We had planned to walk all day and evening through the city, but plans change and we'll do as much as is possible.

Down to the hall on the dock-side to collect our bags, yes we were one of the victims of poor handling of luggage, a wheel on one case at a crazy angle, the case was 6 weeks old. Move across to customer services, they don't have a form for damaged baggage but a kind lady takes our details, puts her name on a Cunard headed piece of paper and a phone number, we have to call to sort out a claim.

Through customs easily and walk around 60 yards to the NYC ferry terminal for a ferry to the Wall Street Pier.

 

Brooklyn Red Hook ferry terminal as seen from the ship. The building lower left is the customs/baggage hall, the lighter curved roof top left in front of the red boat is the ferry terminal with an open waiting area and ticket machine. Note a large number of yellow taxis snaking off to the distance.

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We decided on the ferry if it wasn't raining as it has a great view at water level of the city and other sights, and the walk from the Wall Street terminal to the subway system we needed was only about 400 - 500 yards on a very nice pedestrian walkway along the river. The ferry cost of $2.75 each was a bargain.

We had missed 2 ferries we had planned on catching but we are on holiday, as long as we made Radio City by 9pm all would be well. Chatted with another couple who were waiting for the ferry but weren't sure how to get to their hotel in Times Square, so all agreed we'd travel together to Whitehall Street subway station. The entrance was closed due to rebuilding so had to resort to the South Ferry station across the road. It all worked out in the end except we had to take a different line and go past our stop (Canal St) to go back to it.

Really enjoyed the small ferry up the river, and it was comfortable and warm.

 

Ferry just backing into the Red Hook terminal, the pilots really know how to handle these craft.

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We arrive at our hotel the Soho Garden around 4 hours later than anticipated, Canal Street has a lot of energy in it even on a winter's day. Just as we neared the hotel entrance a proper fist fight started between two very fit looking 20 somethings, quite exciting but Rosie nearly got in the way until I yanked her clear. Always said that New York City had a buzz to it...

Hotel basic but clean and had everything we needed, the staff were very accommodating and helpful too. Took the chance to sleep for a couple of hours, we'd been up since 5:00 am and had lugged cases up quite a few stairways when escalators were not working.

Texted our friends in New Jersey that we were running very late, agreed to meet up when we returned to NYC to fly home. 

By around 5:00 pm we had presented our bags for LA to Amtrak in Penn Station, very efficient service and have to write we were pleased not to have to lug them further. Decided on a bite to eat at NY Pizza Suprema at 8th and W 31 St, recommended by some on this forum. We are not big fans of pizza but converted now if they all taste like that. Sat opposite a man in his 30's with a job that probably only exists in the largest of cities, he was charming, friendly and politely inquisitive. It's a meal we will remember.

Then we were free to sample some of the delights of the last Saturday before Christmas in NYC, first stop Macy's.

 

To be continued...

 

Edited by v v

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Saturday 22 December Day 9  ~  central Manhattan NYC - evening  -  Continuation of post #160
France ~ Tuesday 29 January 2019

 

Walked north from Pizza Suprema along 8th Ave, passing this entrance to Penn Station in the grand Post Office building opposite Penn, is this a new entrance or did we miss it before?

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Turned into E 34th St and walked a couple of blocks to Macy's. Even for NYC the crowds were big, there was an air of excitement especially as there were many families with young children. Can't miss Macy's or it's windows. Lots of people, chairs and tables and even a couple of dancing Salvation Army members, this is not like London at all.

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Returned to 8th Ave down 35th St then north to The New York Times Building. It was important to me to actually see where their journalism is created, the building is a lot taller than expected, pretty impressive.

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Next east along 42nd St, left on 5th Ave towards Saks, famous for their Christmas window displays. By this time the police had started to shut off roads as the crowds had got larger and larger, this is as near to Saks as we got.

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The whole time the crowd were good humoured, no pushing, no shoving just accepting you can't always go where you want. Across to W 49th St to visit the Rockefeller Center, in particular the ice rink, the Art Deco decorations (having attended the Rockefeller talk on the Mary) and the Christmas tree. Apart from not being able to access the area next to the ice rink due to numbers of people, it didn't disappoint.

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The tree was amazing, much larger than appeared here and possibly 5 x more lights than we have ever seen on any tree.

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It was getting close to 9:00 pm which we are told is the latest we can turn up for the 10:00 pm Rockettes Christmas show, but Radio City theatre is only round the corner so shouldn't take long...

 

Amazing Art Deco theatre from the 1930's, can see why it is still so popular today. First through a very ornate foyer where we spotted a real Rockette, Rosie was beside herself!

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The theatre itself was almost as glamorous

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The show was everything Rosie wanted it to be, her favourite routine was the toy soldiers

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On our way back to the subway and Canal St we passed this group of buildings, look as good to the naked eye as they do in the photo, we do like short bursts of NYC.

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Crowds have thinned now, get back to Canal St and see a McDonalds just down the street that's open, both are dying for a cup of tea (have I mentioned we drink a lot of tea?).

The server helped us out as we managed to order the teas via the remote touch screen, but couldn't manage to add milk, or maybe US McDonalds doesn't associate tea with milk? We ended up with more milk than needed all gratis, happily carried our tea to-go back to our room. Got to bed at 1:00 am, decided to have a lie-in and get up at 5:00 am as we were confident of finding our way to Penn from Canal St now.

I was particularly excited, we'd had a great evening in a city we like more and more with every visit, but in the morning the real part of this holiday would start, back on an Amtrak train...

SarahZ, thanks in particular from Rosie for encouraging us to visit Radio City Rockettes Christmas show, you tipped the balance for us, great advice. Thank you.

 

 

Edited by v v

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18 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

Wonderful pics! Sounds like you had a great time around here! :) 

Thank you Sir, we really enjoyed ourselves.

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Sunday 23 December Day 10 ~  leaving  New York City
France ~ Friday 8 February 2019

 

Our first Amtrak train ride of this journey, even though we only got 4 hours sleep we were excited. At 5:15am it was an easy Subway journey to Penn, although like all world cities they never sleep and plenty of other riders.

Arrived at New York Penn (NYP) station and already knew the lounge wouldn't open until our train left, so just stood out in the concourse watching the world go by and waiting for our train platform to be called. The station was busy even though it was early Sunday, many fellow travellers had bags too. Guess they were going somewhere for the holidays.

Amtrak 51 Cardinal  - Departing NYP at 06:45am 23 December 2018   -    Arriving Chicago Union (CHI) station at 10:00am  ~  Roomette

 

NYP station, busy with people waiting for platforms to be called

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We are so pleased to be back on an Amtrak LD train, have never ridden the Cardinal before and looking forward to the ride. Make ourselves comfortable in the roomette and immediately off to the diner for breakfast, it's only 07:00am very early for us.

On our way back to our sleeper a couple in Business stopped us, they had heard us talking and wanted to chat. An hour an a half later we were near Washington and they get off there, they had a couple of days of 'meetings'.

They were perfectly charming, extremely interesting and fascinating to talk with. Not sure who they were but they were very high achievers in banking, Wall Street and insurance. He had created a new form of finance insurance, she had some memorable 'firsts' on the Wall Street trading floor and in the boardrooms of banks. The only problem we had with them was if we mentioned any form of social care or universal health cover. At the very mention her entire being changed to the point I thought of her as the mother of Attila the Hun, an amazing transformation. He sat there grinning but saying nothing, he looked a bit like Jack Nicholson. It was a fascinating meeting and one we were very pleased to have had, apparently they stopped us as they had operated in Europe too and recognised our accents. The people you meet on trains...

After this we collapsed into bed until 1pm, we woke to the lovely Virginia scenery. Pity the room windows were too dirty to take photos as there were many beautiful sights and settings. It's probably hard to keep the windows clean in a northern winter.

Staff all had Xmas clothes on, a pullover here, a hat there. When asked if it was ok to work so close to Xmas most said they would spend time with family just a few days late, no complaints.

The diner had a grumpy server and only 2 meal options. In our travels if the food doesn't look appealing we go for anything veggie, but there was no veggie option either. We both ate very little as the quality and preparation was very poor, first time have ever written this about Amtrak. To cap it off the heater in our room wasn't working, the catch on the door wouldn't lock and flew open from time to time. We would have liked another room but looked as though the car was full, maybe we just are a bit grumpy ourselves as so tired?

I managed to tie the door mostly closed and wedged bags into it so it didn't move, not too bad a night's sleep but we slept with our coats on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by v v

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Monday 24 December Day 11 ~  arriving and leaving Chicago
France ~ Saturday 9 February 2019

 

As we wake the Cardinal is crossing flat open farmland and the sky is blue. Rosie is off to breakfast early (last call 08:00am) where she eats with Jimmy, he talks about music, Le Mans and Ferraris, I remain in bed and miss this. Jimmy is also headed south on the same Southwest Chief, he's off to visit his 97 year old mum and sister in Albuquerque. Jimmy will feature often on that part of our journey.

The woes of that Cardinal trip didn't end last night as now business class car rest rooms were full, out of use. Had to use a coach car rest rooms, but soon that was full too, what's happening Amtrak? Rosie said the mood of the dining car attendant hadn't improved with the new day, barked at Jimmy as he questioned something, not something we had come across anywhere in the US. 

We'd mostly only heard good things about the Cardinal so put all this down to a one off trip, everyone can have a bad day, or two...

Pleased to arrive in Chicago, we like Chicago a lot. Off to the station Metropolitan Lounge, is this the best Amtrak lounge in the US now? Upstairs is an oasis of quiet and comfortable seating, we both enjoy the artwork on the walls too. At the lounge desk waiting to check-in a lady behind Rosie started talking to her,  she was also travelling to visit her mother and sister, in Fargo ND. She was travelling on the Empire Builder later that day, it left about 40 minutes before ours.

As we all moved into the lounge she and Rosie continued talking in the downstairs seating, I was introduced to Jimmy and we talked for a while but I had to catch up on emails so moved upstairs.

An hour or so later returned downstairs and meet Marilyn who had travelled up from Tennessee. She explained she was born in Fargo and grew up there until she married. I asked are the people there weird as seen in the movie and tv series, she said 'yes' then came out with this memorable line. "When I lived in Fargo I thought people from everywhere else were strange, after I left and had lived away for a while I realised it was me and the people of Fargo that were strange".

This is music to our ears as we love all the Fargo film and tv, and to meet someone who was born and lived there was such an exciting moment. That she said Fargo really was weird makes it all the better. 

Rosie and I had planned to eat at Lou Mitchell's a couple of blocks away, it would be our second visit and asked Marilyn if she wanted to join us but she was too nervous as she might just miss her train. We guaranteed she had no problems as LM's isn't that far and we would personally put her on her train, that did it and good company she was too,

We get a nice booth in the center of the diner, good waiting staff and Marilyn recommended Denver omelettes which we had never heard of, very good choice for hungry people. The place was packed and as in New York quite a few families with children too, very happy and jolly atmosphere. LM's is another great recommendation from this forum.

 

THE Lou Mitchell's

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We learn that after Marilyn and her husband spent 25 years teaching in Japan they settled in Tennessee, although both are from Fargo. She has an extraordinary family which at times sounded like a tv sitcom. She was a very positive person but a little anxious about travelling on her own. She was such a nice person to have lunch with and she was born in Fargo!

At the end of our meal she started to get a little anxious about her train, she couldn't walk far or fast and that bothered her. So we left with plenty of time to make her train, Rosie holding one arm and I the other. Well us three amigos made it back to the lounge in time, recovered Marilyn's case, she said her goodbyes to Rosie then I walked her to the correct platform. After helping her board in the right car she smiled and thanked us. That made my day, gave Marilyn a little hug and off back to Rosie as we were leaving soon too. Back at the lounge Rosie produced Marilyn's shawl, spoke with the staff in the lounge and they said it was too late to run back there, the train was just about gone. Marilyn had given Rosie her address, we'd send it to her from LA.

 

Rosie took these photos while I escorted Marilyn, think most people reading this know of The Polar Express and it's customs. Not sure if the parents or children were the most excited.

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We didn't get to have our walk to the lake but sometimes you can't have everything. We had blue skies, used the lounge, a memorable lunch, met someone from Fargo, it's Christmas Eve and we are soon to be on the Southwest Chief heading to LA, how fortunate can you get.

 

To be continued...

 

 

Edited by v v

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On 1/28/2019 at 8:12 PM, v v said:

SarahZ, thanks in particular from Rosie for encouraging us to visit Radio City Rockettes Christmas show, you tipped the balance for us, great advice. Thank you.

I'm so pleased. You are most welcome. I wish you could see how big my smile is right now. I'm glad you enjoyed the show!

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Nice to see you are "back on track" with your trip reports, always a pleasure to read the detailed information, and see the great photos.

 

Ed.

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Thank you so much for continuing to update this! :)

Sorry to hear about your experience on the Cardinal. The Amfleet II diner-lite it uses just has a convection oven for cooking facilities, so has to serve that limit selection of heat-and-eat entrees. But even with the prohibiting 
equipment, poor service like that is never okay. :angry: Hope I don't end up with that same LSA when I ride the Card for the first time this June.

Hopefully your dining experience on the Chief was a bit better...

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Monday 24 December Day 11 ~  leaving Chicago
France ~ Sunday 10 February 2019

 

Amtrak 3 Southwest Chief  - Departing CHI at 02:50pm 24 December 2018   -    Arriving Los Angeles Union station (LAX) at 08:00am  26 December 2018  ~  Roomette

We get precise directions to our platform, are we becoming old hands at riding Amtrak trains as it all feels so effortless. Happy with our roomette, polite Sleeping Car Attendant (SCA), we are doing well. Later he mentions he was asked to work at very short notice as someone had called in sick, didn't mind as his mum was working too so no one at home anyway.

The atmosphere through the train felt jolly and light hearted, the dining car was good too. We get to eat with a two doctors from Lawrence KS, their 3 teenage sons were at the table across the passageway. They were a happy group of people who had spent a couple of pre Christmas days in Chicago and were returning home on the stroke of Christmas Day. He and she also had a real sense of humour which came out when they heard my name. Did I have nieces and nephews, "yes?". So you are Uncle Jamie "well yes I suppose I am". Roars of laughter including Rosie, what's going on. Bet they like you though? "not sure but hope so", more laughter but I'm none the wiser. Am I the only person who hasn't seen the movie 'Love Actually'?

Good company, good diner staff, real cutlery and fabric napkins, what more could we want, we are very happy. Christmas Day in the morning.

Edited by v v

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18 hours ago, v v said:

 Am I the only person who hasn't seen the movie 'Love Actually'?

I haven't seen it either, but now I am intrigued...

I am still having so much fun following along with you... thank you for getting back to us. And I am so glad that you and especially Rosie are not worse for the wear.

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Tuesday 25 December Day 12 ~  Christmas Day on the rails
France ~ Sunday 10 February 2019

 

Blue sky on Christmas morning. Santa Claus welcomes us all to Raton NM, now we all know where he really comes from. His helper Elf is to his left carrying his stash of presents

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Thanks for being so sweet Jennifer, this post is for you from Rosie and me.

 

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