Thursday, June 26, 2008

Prelude to the Train Trip

Okay, I'm sitting in the train at the Albuquerque depot. And the air card for my laptop I purchased just in time for the trip is working great. I am so tickled. While we may get into some remote areas where I can't get service, I'm going to try to share a blow by blow experience of this fabulous trip.

Starting with the journey of getting to our journey. The night before we left, we set the alarm for 3 a.m. Luckyman was pretty calm despite all the luggage scattered everywhere, but Chili Pepper, because I put his little harness on him for Delinda the dog sitter, was freaked. I think he thought the harness meant he was supposed to be on duty all night. And even rubbing his tummy didn't calm him down. Truthfully I was wired too, and the two of us didn't get much sleep. Mitch on the other hand, can sleep through a conversation he initiated, if he's tired.

For those of you who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, we are spending the next nine days on the very posh Grand Rail Luxe train. Our journey takes in the National Parks of the West beginning in Albuquerque and ending in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We will experience such fabulous destinations as Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yellowstone, Bryce and Grand Teton National Parks.

So after a surprisingly smooth flight with connections in Dallas, we made our way to Albuquerque, were we were met with a warm greeting and a fabulous light lunch at the Hotel Albuquerque, in the heart of the historic downtown. After lunch we had about 30 minutes to walk around the Old Town and we killed two birds in one stone. We found a jewelry store filled with beautiful turquoise jewelry and Mitch got his watchband fixed, that he had broken earlier in the morning at the airport. There was a lot of "What time is it now?" q's, and I was thrilled when we found the store. Back at the Hotel, after a brief debriefing, we set out by motor coach to our train.

Okay guys, this is where I want you to get out your little violins for me and play a tune. Our vintage rail car, the Savannah, is a beautifully refurbished sleeper car that has been custom designed. Amenities include mahogany paneling and a decent sized shower. Things are compact, but efficient. We managed to find placed to stow all our gear that we had to pack for 2 weeks away from home. We'll be spending a couple of days in San Francisco after the train.

This morning we ate a Continental style breakfast in the New York Club car, a truly elegant period club car president Eisenhower once dedicated. Our porter brought us a copy of the New York Times and we perused the headlines while outside the light rail commuter system the New Mexico Rail Runner was having a media event, rewarding their one millionth rider a year's free travel. The fledgling commuter system had expected to have 1,000 riders a day, and within two years they are having 3,000 riders a day. They are so successful, they are extending the light rail system 82 miles, all the way to Santa Fe. (I think there is a song in there somewhere.)Four dollar a gallon gas is getting us all thinking about conserving our resources.

But we haven't moved an inch on the train yet. We spent the night in the depot, and this morning we will board another motor coach to travel to Santa Fe. We will be picked up in Lamy, New Mexico, where we will ride the train back to Albuquerque and once again spend the night stationary in the depot there.

Am I excited about going to Santa Fe this morning? Yes, I am. I can't wait to go into the galleries, meet fabulous artists, and of course share with them what we do at buyoutsidethe box.--Ruth Mitchell

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