Sunday, August 6, 2017

Traveling on Amtrak

I found a fantastic price on an airline ticket when I decided to go visit my folks. The only hitch in the giddy up was the departing airport was Dallas-Ft. Worth over 200 miles to my south. It can be expensive to fly out of Oklahoma City, but at less than $100 round trip, departing in Dallas Ft. Worth is well worth it! I could have driven the four hours to Dallas, fought the traffic, and paid to park my car for 8 days, but I decided to let someone else do the driving. I took the train to Dallas instead. If you live in big cities, traveling by subway or train is a convenient way to get from here to there, but in the more rural areas of the country it has become somewhat of a novelty.

www.heartlandflyer.com
The Amtrak  Heartland Flyer leaves for Dallas out of Oklahoma City and several other stops along the way. I chose to leave my car at a friend's house and she dropped me at the little depot in Norman.

The depot was quaint and historic. Built in 1909 by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, today it welcomes the Heartland Flyer outbound in the morning and inbound in the evening. There is only one platform at this small depot, but it is clean and comfortable while you await your train. I definitely felt a nod back to a different period in time when folks only traveled by train on rare or special occasions to visit loved ones who live far off. However, I used my cell phone to produce my ticket, something unthinkable when train travel was common.


The Heartland Flyer is a two story train and I had a seat on the second level. Climbing the narrow staircase with luggage was a no go for me, but the Conductor helped me out. I soon situated myself in a very comfortable seat next to an enormous window. Soon the train pulled gently out of the depot and I was on my way.


As we made out way south toward Dallas we wound through the Arbuckle Mountains and scenery I would never have been able to enjoy from the interstate. We made stops at several small depots like Norman's. We picked up and let off passengers at each stop, only stopping briefly.






I enjoyed the comfort of the train. The seat has an adjustable leg support and there was a foot rest, essentially turning your seat into a recliner. I leaned my seat back slightly and just watched out the window. I rarely am that relaxed. There was even an electric plug to charge my electronics and a drop down tray/desk to set my laptop up on.


Each of the stations I was in were clean and had security present. Clean restrooms and vending machines were in each station. Ft. Worth even had a Subway restaurant inside.

video

Traveling by train is relaxing and enjoyable, but there are some things you can do to help make your ride more pleasant:

  1. Bring snacks and bottled water - food on the train is limited and expensive. Bring a variety of foods with you. 
  2. Bring some disinfecting wipes to wipe the train tray and armrests down - I don't know how often the train trays are wiped down, but I do this on airplanes as well. 
  3. Bring your electronics charger - some of the trains advertise they have on board wifi, but they don't. You electronics will need to be charged as they try to maintain their cellular connections. 
  4. Bring a light sweater, sweatshirt, or light blanket - while I liked the cool air, several others around me pulled out blankets and sweaters. 

One more thing to keep in mind -  Amtrak trains share the tracks with cargo trains. It is not unusual to be running behind. My connection out of Dallas to Ft. Worth on the way home was delayed for more than an hour. Don't schedule connections via air too close or you may end up missing your flight.

I plan to take the train across the US at some point. How about you? Do you ever ride the train?