A Tale of Three Pictures

After all the posting I did about Chicago, you’d think I’d be done by now. But I have one more story: how Amtrak derailed our return trip on Saturday.

Picture Number 1:

IMG_3611.JPG

This was our view of Chicago as we said good-bye from the last car of the train (which surprised us by leaving on time). Ever hopeful, we should have known better. We learned to dread the train sound system, because every time it came on we heard something like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the conductor. I apologize for the delay, but ________. We plan to be on our way shortly. Thanks for your patience.”

The various scenarios included (and I’m not making these up):

  • A broken track switch, causing us to have to stop while they attempted to fix it, then backed up to a previous track switch when it was determined they could not. Time lost: 1 hour.
  • An unidentifiable object (alien spacecraft? grain silo?) on the track, requiring removal before proceeding. Time lost: 30 minutes.
  • A “rail issue,” though no clear word was ever given as to what this was. Time lost: 30 minutes.
  • A possible train hijacking, complete with East Alton, IL, police and Union Pacific rail officers called to secure our train and conduct a thorough investigation. Time lost: 3 hours.

Picture Number 2:

IMG_3617.JPG

It’s not a good picture of the police cars, I know, but what else are you doing to do while waiting for 3 hours with no word from Amtrak as to what in the world is going on? You try to take a picture to post on your blog, of course. This was after making sure all the girls had shoes on and that my purse, camera, and computer were within easy arm’s reach in the event we had to make a speedy evacuation.

In my mind, I kept thinking, “It’s drug related. No, it can’t be drug related, if it were, they would be searching all the bags and there would be a drug dog on board. Not drugs. OH NO! IT MUST BE A BOMB! Wait, it can’t be a bomb. If we were in danger of being blown up, wouldn’t they have evacuated the train already? They would, wouldn’t they?” You know, calm, rational stuff like that.

Picture Number 3:

IMG_3620.JPG

My family at – can you see that clock? – 12:17 am. We just hadn’t had enough of Amtrak by this point, so decided to wait around the station for photo opportunities. While we did this, we took bets as to whether the 3 bags and 1 box that we checked made it back with us. Our bad train karma prevailed: half of our bags were either left in Chicago or headed on toward Little Rock. Nobody knows.

The important thing is that all the children made it back with us. Oh, and our train was not, in fact, hijacked after all. And we slept until 9 this morning. And all the dirty laundry from the week is taking a joyride on an Amtrak train somewhere in the Midwest. It’s all about the silver linings.

We’re officially two for two on bad Amtrak experiences. We’ll see if the lure of the low price will draw us back the next time we decide to go to Chicago. After last night, it’s not likely.

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26 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Pictures

  1. Mom & Nana says:

    Dorothy (I mean Megan)
    “There’s no place like home!” I’m so glad your dad and I are taking our trip in the truck. (Now that I’ve said that, “Please don’t let us have truck trouble!!!”
    Luv ya lots-get some well deserved rest.

    Like

  2. Mom & Nana says:

    Dorothy (I mean Megan)
    “There’s no place like home!” I’m so glad your dad and I are taking our trip in the truck. (Now that I’ve said that, “Please don’t let us have truck trouble!!!”
    Luv ya lots-get some well deserved rest.

    Like

  3. mopsy says:

    I’m sorry, but I am giggling at the image of your dirty laundry criss-crossing the heartland.
    You seem to have a great attitude about your experience, though. I’m with Claudia—I’d be in tears or on the phone with corporate, being not-nice.

    Like

  4. chickadee says:

    that’s just terrible and i was wondering when the bomb threat was going to make it to the list. i love your daughter’s glasses. my daughter wanted red glasses but she has a very tiny face and we couldn’t find any small enough.
    losing your luggage though has to be the worst. hope it all makes it back to you.

    Like

  5. Monica says:

    I’m glad you’re home safely – though sorry it was such an ordeal. I really enjoyed seeing all your pictures and reading about what you did in Chicago. I’ve always thought a train trip sounded so *fun* – hmm, maybe not.

    Like

  6. Megan says:

    Come on, Travis. We’re going to Birmingham in a few weeks. You know you want to come with us to experience this in person… Right?

    Like

  7. Trevor says:

    Hey Megan,
    Next time you should take the MegaBus. It’s cheaper and faster. It’s how Antonia and I go everytime. It picks you up at Union Station, St. Louis and drops you off at Union Station, Chicago. Tickets start at $1. We usually pay $8 or $16 each, one way.

    Like

  8. Bonnie says:

    At least you’ll have a story to tell for eons to come, sometimes those times are the bonding, “remember when…” moments in the end. Nice job keeping your cool.

    Like

  9. martha10 says:

    actually, this sounded better than a few of your recent vacations. no one got sick or injured. not ticket mess-ups. you had a really fun vacation. true, the trip both ways took longer than expected and your laundry day is delayed from today, but that isn’t all bad:) the good thing is that you didn’t lose your cool so you have a great memory in the “remember when…” collection. all in all, i think this vacation was far from a disaster. in fact, it sounds like craig learned that he actually misses out on some fun when he adds a lot of work to the vacation. that may have been a really good,enlightening thing that came from it too:) i’ll bet if you add up the plus/minus column, this will be a long way from a disasterous vacation. m

    Like

  10. mopsy says:

    I’m sorry, but I am giggling at the image of your dirty laundry criss-crossing the heartland.
    You seem to have a great attitude about your experience, though. I’m with Claudia—I’d be in tears or on the phone with corporate, being not-nice.

    Like

  11. chickadee says:

    that’s just terrible and i was wondering when the bomb threat was going to make it to the list. i love your daughter’s glasses. my daughter wanted red glasses but she has a very tiny face and we couldn’t find any small enough.
    losing your luggage though has to be the worst. hope it all makes it back to you.

    Like

  12. Monica says:

    I’m glad you’re home safely – though sorry it was such an ordeal. I really enjoyed seeing all your pictures and reading about what you did in Chicago. I’ve always thought a train trip sounded so *fun* – hmm, maybe not.

    Like

  13. Megan says:

    Come on, Travis. We’re going to Birmingham in a few weeks. You know you want to come with us to experience this in person… Right?

    Like

  14. Trevor says:

    Hey Megan,
    Next time you should take the MegaBus. It’s cheaper and faster. It’s how Antonia and I go everytime. It picks you up at Union Station, St. Louis and drops you off at Union Station, Chicago. Tickets start at $1. We usually pay $8 or $16 each, one way.

    Like

  15. Bonnie says:

    At least you’ll have a story to tell for eons to come, sometimes those times are the bonding, “remember when…” moments in the end. Nice job keeping your cool.

    Like

  16. martha10 says:

    actually, this sounded better than a few of your recent vacations. no one got sick or injured. not ticket mess-ups. you had a really fun vacation. true, the trip both ways took longer than expected and your laundry day is delayed from today, but that isn’t all bad:) the good thing is that you didn’t lose your cool so you have a great memory in the “remember when…” collection. all in all, i think this vacation was far from a disaster. in fact, it sounds like craig learned that he actually misses out on some fun when he adds a lot of work to the vacation. that may have been a really good,enlightening thing that came from it too:) i’ll bet if you add up the plus/minus column, this will be a long way from a disasterous vacation. m

    Like

  17. Rhonda says:

    I rode Amtrak with my family back when I was a kid. My parents thought we needed the experience of riding on a train. What do I remember most? The delays! The unscheduled stops that went on, and on, and on.
    It would seem that Amtrak hasn’t changed. 🙂

    Like

  18. Rhonda says:

    I rode Amtrak with my family back when I was a kid. My parents thought we needed the experience of riding on a train. What do I remember most? The delays! The unscheduled stops that went on, and on, and on.
    It would seem that Amtrak hasn’t changed. 🙂

    Like

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