My Amtrak Writing Retreat: The fast trak back.

After two and a half days of dealing with Los Angeles traffic, I was more than ready to get back on board the train and head east. Especially since I went ahead and upgraded to one of the bedroom compartments.

Los Angeles’s Union Station was every bit as big and busy as Chicago’s, with old-school architecture and lots of unique touches. I found the Metropolitan Lounge, and proceeded to kick back in there for about three hours. The lounge began to fill up, and I played a game where I tried to predict who would be getting on the Chicago-bound train with me; They’d be my “neighbors” for the next day or two, and I’d most likely be sharing a table at the dining car with some of them.

We were escorted to our Superliner train; they split up the sleeper cars, putting one in the front of the train and one in the back. My room was in the front, so I was to have the added joy of again being serenaded by the train horn at each and every RR crossing. At least the dining car was the next car over.

Train attendant was named Tila, I think. Tila insisted upon putting my bed down for me even though I told her I could do it myself (the instructions weren’t that hard to understand). Maybe it’s because she’s legally required to do it, so they can avoid idiots suing them if they lose a limb or something. Either way, I felt like a big dumb oaf just standing there, while this 5’2″ lady worked so hard at setting my bed up.

The eastbound Superliner was quite a bit more turbulent than both of the westbound trains were. I don’t know what it feels like when a train derails, and I hope never to find out, but all the shakin’ and quakin’ this train was doing must have been pretty close to it. I’m glad I don’t suffer from motion sickness or it would have been sheer hell. No Wi-Fi on this train, either. Oh, well.

I made sure to get all my writing sufficiently backed up when I got back to the lounge at Chicago’s Union Station. I went off in search of a steel mug to add to my collection with either “Chicago” or “Amtrak” on it, but could only find the ceramic coffee mug in that picture at the top. My Viewliner bedroom was also more spacious. I was near the front of the train again, and the dining car was no less than seven cars down. I only made the long journey once for dinner, and just ate snack bar crap for the rest of the trip.

Made it into Boston just as night fell. I’d decided to sleep at a hotel and board a daytime flight back to Tampa. Figured since I was in Boston, I should order a Boston Cream pie for dessert. Was yummy.

Downtown Boston is somewhere behind that fog. 

All in all, the ten days I spent traversing the continental U.S. was fun and rewarding, even if the ride wasn’t as smooth as I remembered, and the lack of reliable Wi-Fi was a bit of a bummer. I didn’t finish any of my works in progress, but I made some progress.

Would I do it again? Yeah, probably not. I think I’ll look into some other version of retreat, like a cabin in Colorado, or some other wilderness-type place. Well, a wilderness-type place with strong Wi-Fi, that is.

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