Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
August 3, 2008
High price of gas causing many people to travel by train
The soaring price of gasoline is affecting the way people travel. Some are staying at home, unable to afford the usual family vacation. Time-consuming security measures and higher fares are persuading others to give up flying. And many folks have decided to ride the train because “it’s cheaper.”
My wife and I
chose to go by train to
has no passenger service from
Inside we found the ticket office but no attendants. A crude sign in the window indicated the office would open in an hour or so. We were scheduled to depart at 2:44 pm. There were a few seats available in the small room but most of us had to stand.
About ten minutes after two o’clock one man showed up to open the ticket counter. He explained to someone that he had it all to himself since two of the workers were out sick. After checking tickets the man began checking baggage. Then abruptly he announced that most of us would have to take our luggage on board. “They will check your bags on the train; I don’t have time to check any more.”
luggage we followed the crowd down the hall and up 30 steps to the waiting
train. No elevator was in sight. The words “Red Cap” struggled to the surface
of my aging brain but in
Our roomette seemed comfortable. Our seats faced each other. Later the porter would pull them together as a platform upon which a thin mattress would rest. What was not obvious at first was just how small a roomette is.
Once the top bunk was pulled down in place, there was about 12 inches between the bunks and the door of our room. With the door closed I could face the bunks or I could face the door but I could not turn around. The only way to undress was to drop my pants to the floor, pull my feet out and stand on my pants. I was suddenly claustrophobic.
The ride was smoother than I expected except when the engineer tried to make up for lost time. At high speeds the cars were rocking sideways, sometimes throwing us first left, and then right. In the dining car we had to brace ourselves carefully or risk falling into some other diner’s lap.
The food was fair to good but not worthy of the price. Scrambled eggs were alright but the hash browns were yucky. The French toast was so tough I had to cut it with a knife. My most enjoyable meal was roasted hen; it was delicious. The service was professional but not always gracious. We kept hearing over the intercom the announcement that they were short-handed; they were simply not prepared to handle the increased number of passengers.
Some roomettes have a commode and a small wash basin. On one leg of our trip we had a roomette without the toilet and wash basin. Down the hall were a shower and a small bathroom that we share with other passengers.
Though our car was called a sleeper, we did not do much sleeping. However, it was nice to be able to lie down and rest during the night. The engineer kept blowing the train’s horn at every crossing until the sound was like background music.
Our train, the Crescent, runs
I wanted to kiss the ground in