I have been wanting to take a trip on the train for a few years now and my husband finally agreed to let me research it to see whether or not we could afford it. When I received the dates for the National Conference for one of our favorite ministries, he gave me the go-ahead and I made our reservations. We decided to fly to Orlando, FL for the conference and then take Amtrak all the way back to Sacramento, CA. In doing my research, I learned that Amtrak offers USA Rail passes that would allow us to get on and off the train anywhere along the route, so we would be able to arrange visits with family and friends on our way home.
Our rail trek began at this quaint old station in Orlando, FL. The weather was glorious here, but were heading north where 6 inches of snow had fallen earlier in the week. We were hoping it would be gone by the time we got to DC. We arrived at the Orlando station 2 hours early to make sure nothing went wrong--and then learned that the train was running 2-3 hrs late! Some folks became increasingly agitated over the delay, but DH had his electronic reader and I had my knitting so we were content to enjoy the warm Florida sunshine and relax. We had stopped at a Popeye's chicken place and bought our dinner to eat on the train and had some water, fruit and snacks from the grocery store so we were set. Others had not planned as well and ended up eating from the vending machines at the station.
Here's the Orlando Amtrak station~
Here I am as we were finally on our way...first stop, Jacksonville!
My aunt was waiting at the Jacksonville station and our delay had given her time to run errands and do some grocery shopping. She had called all my local cousins to a family dinner in honor of our visit and needed to stock up a bit, so the delay wasn't as much of an inconvenience as we had feared. It was wonderful to spend some time with cousins I haven't seen in years and to get to know their children and grandchildren. We reminisced about our summer visits when we were children and ate, and talked and ate some more. I told my Spark team that I had to get out of the South soon or I'd be finding out what size jeans came after this one--and not because I was getting smaller! My uncle was a farmer and still grows a "small" garden (nearly an acre!) just for something to do!
Here's a photo of Steve and Uncle just before we left
My aunt drove us up to Savannah, where her youngest son lives with his family. We were only there for a night and the next day as our train was scheduled to leave Savannah at 7:30 pm. We spent the morning at the riverfront and the afternoon at Tybee Island, where my cousin has a vacation home. (photos are on my Spark page) Once again, we stopped for a take-out dinner to eat on the train (deli sandwiches this time) and were thankful, as the train was 2 hrs. late again. This was the same line that came from Miami to DC and we were told that the delays were due to work being done on the rails, among other things.
The only part about the delays that disturbed us was the inconvenience it might cause to the folks who were picking us up. Thankfully, we were able to communicate with them well in advance. Again, Steve had his reader and I was knitting up a storm!
Next stop--Washington, DC!