2023 Trip: Part 2 - Eastbound

August 16, 2023 10:19 am

The Best Western we stayed at in Colton, CA kept a hot breakfast running until 10 and checkout wasn't until 12. Which was great for us coming in exhausted from being out in the sun and on our feet all day.

For breakfast Corinne had bread with whipped cream and sprinkles--because vacation! She was in heaven (I think I made her eat some yogurt too).

We spent the day driving into Arizona. I was able to buy a Raspberry Pi 4 just before our trip and outfit it with OSMC so the girls could watch TV shows and movies on the van's screen while we drove. A lifesaver for long drives.

We stopped in Tucson and had dinner at a Cracker Barrel. A thunderstorm rolled through as we continued south on our way to Benson.

We got to Mike's observatory not super late, but late enough that it was bed time. In the morning we found that out train was an hour behind schedule. So we had a slightly less frantic start to the day. We had breakfast and packed up our stuff and then Mike drove us to the station. Where, here, "station" means a dirt parking lot, a slab of concrete, and a two-sided shed with a roof just big enough for two benches--it's not a busy station. And yet, on our way out and our way back there was more than one other person also getting on or off so go figure.

The train was 2.5 hours late and I went across the street to the gas station to buy some cold drinks for our wait. The shed may not have been much, but it was crucial to not melt in the heat (98F) and sun. The train arrived and we got on without issue and ate lunch while cruising across Arizona.

I developed a sore throat by this point and so the train ride was less than enjoyable since nothing is enjoyable when you're sick. It was lame. I'd spend the next ~5 days suffering the worst of it and still have a little congestion lingering almost 3 weeks later. Thankfully it seems no one else picked it up from me.

We had the family room on the train which sits on the lower level and spans the width of the car. Once we figured out a way to arrange the room that allowed us to effectively stash our luggage it was roomy. During the day we kept the top bunks open and put all our luggage up there.

Usually it's nice to step off the train at the longer stops to stretch your legs, but everywhere was 100+F so doing that was actually not very much fun.

Meals are served in local time, so when you're eastbound it feels like you're constantly eating. And since all you're doing is sitting you're not really working up an appetite. But getting up, going upstairs, and moving to the dining car is at least a nice change in scenery. I will say being on the upper floor is nicer than being on the lower floor. You have a better view out the windows and the objects you're seeing generally aren't moving as quickly past the window (since you're 7 feet up from the ground) so it's less likely to produce motion sickness (or seems to be for me).

The train was late into our destination at Malvern, AR arriving around midnight.

Jess' dad picked us up and we got back to their house and crashed.

The next morning we visited with the families of Jess' siblings that were able to meet us there for the weekend. I had to go pick up the rental car we had reserved with Enterprise. Two months ahead of time I reserved a minivan. I'll give you one guess as to whether they had a minivan available when I arrived to pick it up.

They did not. Well, they had a minivan, but apparently had just given that away to someone else (who could have predicted that I'd be showing up to get the car I reserved?). They offered me a full-size SUV instead, cause who wouldn't want a vehicle twice as large? The smallest thing they had which still had 6 seatbelts (so Jess' parents could ride with us instead of taking 2 cars) was a Ford Explorer. So that was annoying and yet entirely predicted. They at least knocked $150 of the price. Though when I returned it the person checking me in showed me a price $300 more than my original reservation, but when I said that was the wrong price they were able to find the correct price.

Back to the house with the car and then hanging around for the day.

Corinne collected a pile of sticks for the visiting dog. Babies are always a hit. And playing Swoop.

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