I don't know why we always seemed to be surprised when typical winter weather interferes with our winter travel plans! But that was the case that resulted in an unanticipated overnight trip on Amtrak recently. My original plans called for my plane to land in Sacramento, California, around noon, after which I would rent a car to make the drive to my son's house in Klamath Falls, Oregon, arriving in time for supper. The plane landed in Sacramento just fine and on time. However, the weather situation north of there had turned into heavy snow, and my son advised against my renting a car. He suggested instead that I take the Amtrak train up to Klamath Falls. Since I was determined to get to his home, I decided to give his suggestion a try. I had been by myself in a snow storm, in a rental car, in northern California a few years earlier, and it was definitely not an experience I wanted to repeat! I took a SuperShuttle from the airport to the train station in downtown Sacramento, and made myself at home in the train station's historic space. Its architecture reflects the year 1925, when it first opened, as the terminal for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The interior features a mural of the celebration of the completion of the Trans-continental Railroad (upper left photo). One of the most fascinating features of the waiting room was its unique, wooden church-pew-like seats with a heating unit built between the seats (upper middle photo). The very "thoughtful" designers of these unique pieces of furniture must have realized that, with the constant opening and closing of doors going on in a train station, it would be easier to keep the people sitting at the benches warm, by putting the heating unit inside the seats, instead of a more conventional floor or ceiling heat register unit. The upper right photo shows that the train station had modern, flat-screen monitors showing which trains were arriving and departing. The lower left photo shows the "automatic ticket seller" kiosk that was available at this station, as well as many other Amtrak stations. Using this kiosk, one could get their ticket, even if there were no "human" ticket agent available to sell them a ticket. One end of the waiting room had several vending machines, offering every type of food imaginable. And there were tables and chairs beside the vending machines, suitable for "dining" , if one chose to use them. The lower right photo shows one of the vintage and lovely chandeliers that were strategically placed around the high, vaulted ceiling. These unique features are probably one of the reasons that the station has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.
I boarded the train in Sacramento at midnight, and woke up the next morning just outside Klamath Falls. Lots of people exited the train in Klamath Falls, not because that was their destination, but because the stop in Klamath Falls lasted long enough for people continuing on the train to get outside and stretch their legs. I took a photograph of one of these passengers because the man standing in the snow, shown in the photo on the left , dressed in his Russian type coat, boots, and hat reminded me of a scene out of an old Russian movie! The porter shown in the middle photo was in charge of the sleeper car, which I did not get to visit. The photo on the right shows the trackside entrance to the Klamath Falls station. It is also a historic structure, and its unique architecture, along with the building material of black, volcanic stone, made it a memorable stop for Amtrak passengers who had never seen it before.
The photo on the left gives you an idea of the size of the seats that a passenger in coach class has. Fortunately, I had two of these to stretch out in for the 7-hour ride, which enabled me to sleep like a baby! The porter passed out pillows to everyone, which I thought was a very nice amenity! The windows are large and provide a great view of the landscape you are speeding by. There are also curtains that you can pull, if desired, to made it easier for you to sleep. The photo on the right shows that the Klamath Falls station was keeping the walking area beside the train cleared of the constantly falling snow. This had not been necessary in Sacramento because the boarding area of the tracks had a roof over it. The photo on the left also shows how very long the train was, and the nature of its doubledecker superliner design. The bottom floor of my train car had restrooms, chairs and tables suitable for wheelchairs, and a small storage area for luggage. Then there was a very small, winding staircase that led up to the second level where my seat was located.
The other Amtrak trips I had taken had just been a two or three hours in length, and I had never had big luggage on those other trips. However, on this trip, I had a giant rolling duffel bag, because I was carrying some Christmas presents for family. I was very reluctant to "check" my luggage, because I did not have any experience with doing so on a train. However, another traveler I met in the Sacramento station, who had been on several cross country train trips, said she always checked her luggage, and had never had it lost. So I handed over my big bag at the Sacramento station, and I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted it on the luggage cart that was loaded down with bags at the Klamath Falls station. It was covered in snow, but at least it was not lost!! It was interesting to me that the cart hauling the luggage out of the train and to the station at Klamath Falls was so similar to a cart that I had seen at an "antique" or vintage train ride in Eureka Springs. I guess some things never change! Speaking of baggage, sometimes there is lots of emotional baggage that goes along with visiting old friends and family. All that emotional baggage can keep one from enjoying the blessing of being reunited with loved ones. But just liked I checked my baggage at the train station so I wouldn't have to deal with it during my trip, so I need to "check" my emotional baggage so I don't have to deal with it during my visit. There are some words of wisdom in Ephesians 4:3 that say "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace". That is my prayer for you during this holiday season---may you have miles of PEACEFUL smiles! Tricia