Friday, January 18, 2013

Christmas Travel Adventures - Part 3 - Choo Choo

Happy Friday Bleeps!

Okay, I know you all have been clamoring for Part 3 of my Christmas Travel Adventures to and from Florida.  I will make you wait no longer.

As fun as it was to drive down (stopping in Charlotte to see friends and FINALLY visit Savannah...if only for dinner), I was so on board with taking the Auto Train back. If you don't know what that is, let me explain because lots of people got confused "You drove down, but took the train back? where is your car???".  The Auto train is an Amtrak train with cars for both people and vehicles.  You can choose to ride in a coach car with regular seating or a sleeping car with beds. Your vehicle is boarded in a car in the back.

And now, on with our story....

On my last morning in Florida I woke up way early. My brother had to leave for work by 8 and I wanted to make sure I got some time in with him.  Also, if I was up early and ready to go well before it was time to leave that meant more Baby Time!  I'm no dummy!

Deciding what to wear was difficult. Whatever I wore I would be wearing until noon the next day. I had to sleep in it.  I was also starting the trip in Florida and ending it in Virginia where they had just had snow. The former Fat Girl would have been all over pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt. I would have worn my jeans, but they had dog slobber all over I picked a pair of sweat pants, a running shirt, and a sweat jacket. I kind of wanted to look a little nicer, but the sleeping part was key and I wasn't really planning on changing clothes in a train bathroom. I wasn't even looking forward to using it for it's intended purposes.

So our train was scheduled to leave at 4pm. We were told to try and be there by 2pm. The latest you can check in is 3pm. That is when they start hooking all of the cars together.  We were 70 miles away and planned on getting on the road at noon.  They started loading at 11:30, but that would mean giving up baby time and also we heard that the first cars on were also the last ones removed.

I made sure we ate breakfast and we had planned on stopping at a Starbucks on the way for a little caffeine jolt and a sandwich for lunch.  That was a good plan, but have you ever tried to drive through Orlando on a Thursday afternoon? DON'T DO IT!

I was flipping out to put it mildly. We hit so much traffic in a 15 mile area it was ugly. I wasn't worried about missing the train. I was worried about missing lunch. We would get dinner on the train, but we had no idea what seating times would still be available when we checked in. My blood sugar was dropping. I had to pee. You could hear my belly crying. It wasn't pretty my friends.  Finally we were 1 exit away and it was 2:15. There was a sign for Starbucks and I practically burned the rubber off of my tires pulling off of the exit. It was the best pee ever!

They were out of my paninis for lunch, but they did still have two of their regular sandwiches. So we grabbed them and then ran back to the car. We pulled up to the station at 2:40...20 minutes to spare people!  There were no lines and they took my car right away. So here's the thing, all of this time I have been stressing about trusting someone else to drive my car and load it on to the train. What if it's banging around?  What if they leave the car on and I'm out of gas when we arrive?  What if they leave a light on and my battery dies?  I'm a little nutso like that. But, I was so happy that we arrived that I didn't care. Here are the keys to my baby, have at it!

Amazingly enough, we got a 5pm dining time. I don't know how that was possible, but I was not complaining.  We even saw the menu and it didn't look half bad: chicken parm, beef tips, veggie lasagna, and some fish dish.

Just as we checked in they called boarding for our car. Sweet. This is working out nicely. When we booked our tickets we booked the lower level. We didn't really want to be carrying bags up and down stairs and honestly, I was thinking that the upper level would probably be rocking more and I might not be able to sleep well. So we walk in and in the lower level there are about 12 seats. It sort of felt like we were in time out. We were all facing the front of the car...which was just a wall. Behind us was the hallway for the bathrooms and a lounge car. It was a little weird at first. Our car was very quiet and we had to sit there for an hour before we even got started. So we ate our sandwiches. SO hungry...thank goodness our dining time was in two hours.

Among the announcements was that free fruit would be available in the lounge car upstairs. Sweet!  We passed through the lounge car on the way to the dining car. Oh and that's a fun walk. So glad we picked the lower level. I was bouncing all over the place trying to walk down the aisle. Thank goodness I lost the weight because it didn't feel like a lot of room to walk through.

When we were seated I ordered the chicken parm. It came with mashed potatoes and veggies. It was okay. It wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't horrible either.  I stuck with my water to drink. And then there was dessert. Coconut lemon hello!  It wasn't a large slice, but it was tasty.  On the way back to our seats we grabbed some apples and bananas from the lounge car.

We could plug in to charge, but there was no wifi. I had hoped to start blogging then, but that didn't happen. I could have written some and saved them for later, but I didn't get my laptop out.  Actually I was more inclined to download all of my pictures and edit them, but we were in a not so hotly ventilated car and my breathing wasn't that great. So I knitted until I ran out of yarn and then I read.

Most of the people in our car read and slept. I was not arguing. Quiet was nice. I wasn't worried about me being able to sleep because I can usually sleep anywhere, but I was having some breathing issues (I was fine upstairs in the dining car). There was lots of room and we could lean back and put our feet up. I sleep on my side and that was not easy in the chair so I would sleep for an hour then wake up. Then sleep for an hour then wake up. I probably would have done better to try and sleep sitting up. Anyway, I did get 6+ hours eventually.

Breakfast was being served between 6-8am. They would make an announcement at 7am.  I woke up at 6:30 so we decided to go up and eat before the rush. They had cereal, bagels, fruit, and juice. Do you know how hard it is to try and pour orange juice into a little shot size cup on the second level of an amtrak train?  Well I do. It ain't easy. I could barely get any in mom's glass. Hope she liked here tablespoon amount of juice. lol.

We arrived in Virginia an hour late, but that's okay. We didn't really have anything planned...except a SHOWER!  We were the 10th car called and were at my aunt's house before they even finished unnloading the rest of the cars. We visited there for a little while, but then the plan was to go to Cracker Barrel and tell all about the trip...and show pictures. Cracker Barrel was packed, as always and we had to wait a little while. I started to get punchy. I am not used to eating breakfast at 6:30am. I was super hungry.

I got my usual Eggs in a basket with turkey sausage. It's so yummy and I can't control myself with the hash brown cassarole...possibly the best thing ever made. It's always good going in, but I have cleansed my system so much from the grease that it is not always pleasant after if you get my drift. Sadly, that doens't stop me.

So let me just tell you that my shower that day was one of the greatest showers of all time!  And I could Breathe again!  YEAH! Sending a big shout out to Breathing!

After my shower I opened a couple more presents. My mom's roommate, who I adore, got me a Booty slide dvd. I am kind of a little excited to use this. haha.

I don't know what possessed me into running all of our errands that night, but we did. By the time we were done it was 9pm and we still hadn't eaten dinner. Bah!  Panera was closing and I couldn't wait for a waitress. So we stopped at Baja Fresh for a couple soft tacos. I am telling you, when I am hungry I can't make good decisions. And that's why I always try to plan ahead.

I don't remember much about Saturday except that I went to my Aunt's to watch the Syracuse Football game and finally download the pictures of the baby...awwwww.  Shout out to the Orange for their last win in the Big East.  Bring on the A.C.C!

Sunday morning I had an appointment to finally get a much needed mani/pedi. I had competed in two half marathons since my last wasn't pretty. And it pays to be loyal. The lady that we have been going to for the past 15 years switched salons. She knows me and loves me and opened the salon an hour earlier for me. It was nice and private...which was good cause I got in trouble for cutting my toe nails wrong. DOH!

Even though I got in trouble, it was a nice way to end the week. I headed home later in the day and got back to my regular routine.

I am so glad for the train ride back and would totally do it again. I would pack more water and healthy snacks though. They do have some stuff, but not a lot. And I did make sure to get up and walk around every couple of hours. It's kind of tough to sit for 17 hours. Especially since my thigh was still cramping from the drive down.  Lessons learned.

Have a Blessed Night my friends

Don't forget my Fundraising for Autism Research:

****Please note****

If you feel like you are alone on your journey and you just need some encouragement I am here for you! Shoot me an email and I will do my best to check in on you or give you the words of support you need several times a week. The journey is so much easier if you have support.

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