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Back in July I attended a wedding in Iowa. I was originally planning on driving or flying over there from Michigan but the plane tickets were too expensive and I really didn`t want to spend 12 hours behind the wheel of a car. So I thought I would try something new! I booked a Amtrack ticket for around $200 it was half the price of flying and only a little more expensive then driving.
I traveled from Durand MI to Chicago where I had a layover and then I got on the California Zephyr headed to Iowa.
I have been on trains like at the zoo before, but i`d never been on a real train before. I have had a fear of trains for a long time so I had a bit of anxiety standing near the tracks waiting for the train to come in, but I survived!
The trip out to Iowa wasn`t to bad, it took about 13 hours in train to get where I was going. The first train I was on from Durand to Chicago wasn`t very pretty, it looked more like a subway then a regular train, but it had free wifi.
The second train I was on went from Chicago to San Francisco California with tons of stops i between. The only problem? No wifi. The train trip from one end to the other was a few days, and they didn`t provide any type of internet, plus traveling through some parts of illinois and iowa there wasn`t any cell phone reception either.
I just kicked back with my laptop and watch some movies, but to be on a train longer then that with no wifi would have been too much.
My trip back home wasn`t so happy. The train was originally supposed to be at the station around 7am, but am track called me to let me know it was 45 minutes late. We got to the station later then we originally planned to but by then it was 3 hours late. The train didn`t show up until after 1:30 that afternoon. I wouldn`t have been to bad except I had a connecting train that I was supposed to catch at 8:30. My connection was the last one for the day.
To top it off I sat at the train station all day waiting, where they didn`t have any food and by the time I got on the train all the food on the train was gone too.
We finally made it into Chicago Union Station around 10pm the car attendant announced that they would be putting the people for my train on a charter bus and driving us to our stops.
Now that didn`t sound to bad. There were 6 of us that were supposed to be on the connecting train.
We get over to the station and are escorted out and they have a small van.
We then drove all through the state of Michigan stopping at the different train stations to drop people off. I made it home at about 6:30am the next morning.
I was furious. It was nice that they sent us home, but it would have been much better to be put in a hotel for the night. On the ride home I couldn`t use my phone because it had to be charged so I could contact my mom who was picking me up at the station. There was no time frame when we would actually get to the station, so my mom and i were both up all night. To top it off, I was starving!
I have to say the train ride was beautiful, traveling through towns you would never see is amazing. I think a train trip across the country would be a great experience, but I would definitely plan it out differently next time and expect that delay. The man who drove the van to our station said he does it a few times a week. Maybe I didn`t do enough research about Amtrack, but I was extremely disappointed by the lack of planning. It seems to be a really common problem, but there was no compensation. The situation made me very bitter about train travel and it is something i probably will not do again.
The photo`s above all belong to me, please do not take them.