"...all the valiant men arose and traveled all night..."
1 Samuel 31:12a
After breakfast and packing up the car, we all piled into the van and drove up to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Northern VA. You may be wondering why we went North when Florida was South. Well, we found that out after we arrived at their house. After a prayer in their driveway for our safety on the trip we drove to Lorton, VA where the Amtrak Auto Train is!!!! We have never rode on a train before so it was a new experience for all of us. After getting out of the car and taking a few of the items we would need on the 14-hour trip we went into the Amtrak waiting center. We got there around 11:30 A.M. but boarding time wasn't until 2:30 that afternoon. The reason we were there so early was because we wanted a seat together so we had to be there to make reservations to make sure that happened.
The whole train thing was a complete surprise most of the grandkids (including me). The adults knew but they managed to keep it a secret from us! :)
Diana, our cousin, in the waiting center.
Grandpa is always great at playing the part of "the entertainer!" :)
Grandma and Grandpa
Grandma (and maybe Grandpa) paid for the entire trip.
It speedily became rather boring sitting around in a train station for 2+ hours.
Some played and watched others play video games.
Some played Froggy Farkle with Uncle Greg, walked around, etc. whatever we could do to make the time fly by. (Time always seems to go slower when you're excited about something)
After 30 minutes or so in the waiting area we decided to go watch them put our vehicles on the train. [For more info on Amtrak go to this link: http://www.amtrak.com/ I can't explain it to you - it would take too long! :)]
Our big old bus going into the train! Our car numbers were AV54 and AV25 if I remember correctly.
After watching that we went back into the holding place.
Uncle Greg reading some material on the different things about Disney World.
As the time neared for boarding we would get up and walk around more often. Other people kept coming in and the room was packed before boarding time.
One of the people who worked for Amtrak told us that they were hooking up a train (or something) if we'd like to watch. So, we walked on down and watched the proceedings which were fairly uninteresting, just a lot of noise and metal, but at least we had something to do:)
Walking down the sidewalk to watch the train hook-up.
Back inside the train station looking at Aunt Amy's pictures of Diana playing volleyball (she made Varsity).
Finally the time came!!!!!!
Most of our group outside the waiting station preparing to board.
(Altogether there were 17 of us)
This was the first time we've been on a train so we severely underpacked what we took on the train. For example, jammies were not included, so we slept in what we wore. :)
On the train!!
We all got seats together on the back of one of the trains, which ended up being really nice because we could lay the little ones down for naps on the floor behind the back seats.
Hannah and Amanda.
They were in the same seats together and Diana and I were also! It was lots of fun being beside our cousins the whole way down to Florida.
Stephen and Caleb sat by each other too.
Lydia drinking some water.
The boarding time was right after Lydia would normally lay down for a nap but thankfully she took a nap for us on the train!
The train didn't start moving until 4:00-4:30 because of all the dining/lounge/car trains that had to be hooked up. Once we were as settled as you could be on a train we went to the lounge car where they had some snacks available: apples, oranges, Chex mix, hot chocolate, and more.
After we ate, we all waited for dinner which was at 7 PM.
Hannah reading a book to help time fly by.
It was so neat being on a train! Truthfully it was one of my favorite parts of the entire trips. :-D I don't enjoy traveling for hours in cars and the thought of a 14+ hour drive wasn't at all fun sounding, even though we were going to stop somewhere Saturday night and finish on Sunday. On the train you can walk around while it's moving, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, sleep comfortably, eat a full meal (including dessert), and more - none of which you can accomplish in a car (that's in my opinion :). So, I was enjoying every moment on the train even though there were a couple of passengers that were hard to get along with.
The assistant conductor came into our train car and gave a talk about some of the different aspects of the train, around 5 PM. He had some humor mixed into his talk so it wasn't boring at all.
Before the conductor came around, Grandma passed out some bags. Everyone (of the grandkids, that is) got a paper bag with their name on it. Inside each bag was: a water bottle, hand sanitizer, a coloring book, a gel pen, an ink pen, a notebook, a word search book, a Nemo shirt (everyone got one so we all had matching shirts), a plastic animal, a lanyard, spray sour candy, microwaveable popcorn, a pencil, 2 candy canes, 2 lolipops, fruit snacks, Chicklets and Double Bubble gum, Tic Tacs, Air Heads, Twix, and Newton Fruit Crisps. Everyone's items in their bags varied to some degree but that is what the bags mostly contained. So, we had some snackies before dinner! :)
Amanda, Hannah, and Alexis at the dinner table.
(Amanda wasn't feeling too good but she got better by the middle of the week)
Diana and I at dinner also! :)
For dinner they had 3 options: flat iron steak with mashed potatoes, cod, and "Choo-Choo-Chewies" (a.k.a. chicken). All of the plates had some vegetables with it that were, if I can be painstakingly honest, disgusting. They were steamed or something so they were a little bit mushy on the outside but hard on the inside.
Otherwise, the food was absolutely delicious!
Our waiters and waitresses were the kindest, funniest, group of people I've ever met! We had two guys and two girls that would alternately pass by, serve us food, etc. Jose was one of the waiters and probably the funniest of them all. Diana asked for some more milk and he (playfully) said that she couldn't have any more. Diana was devastated, since milk is her favorite drink, but then Jose said "I'm just playing" and came back with a glass of milk. Since it was Halloween he came out wearing a pumpkin hat on his head, (a few of the waitresses were wearing horns) so we all were joking about his hat. They were so much fun! I wish I could tell you exactly what we and they said but it wouldn't be as funny as if you were actually there. Just know that the train had the best servers around. They were smiley, fun, and altogether wonderful! We really didn't want to leave the dinner table and once we were back in our seats, every time the door opened, we hoped one of them would go by.
For dessert they had the options of cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, oreo pie, and jello. I picked the oreo pie! It was just as good as dinner!
After dessert we went back to our seats and colored, read books, talked, did puzzles, etc. until it was time for bed.
A view of our side of the train.
At the back of the train was a door that you would have to hit for it to open. Then you crossed over a little gap where the train cars connected, and pressed another door to get through each train car to the lounge, dining car, etc. It was fun when the train was rocking back and forth to see if you could make it but it wasn't fun listening to the door banging open and shut when you were trying to sleep. Then the doors became very loud and obnoxious.
The bathrooms were downstairs (we were on the top level) and you had to traverse narrow steps to get to them. The steps couldn't have been more than 2 feet wide and they were definitely not built for two-way traffic! :) When you washed your hands in the sink the water would shoot everywhere consequently getting you and your surroundings wet which you had to clean up after the water was off.
After an exciting day, everyone went to sleep in the most comfortable position that you can be in on a train. I slept wonderfully but everyone else said they didn't sleep good to some degree.
Well, the next post will be on Sundays' adventures, so stay tuned!
All for Jesus,