I am writing this entry right after writing the previous one, so this is sort of a continuation, but it’s really separate, so too bad, who cares.
Amy dropped Rohan and I off at the train station early on Monday morning, right after Rohan finally got an espresso shot he really liked. There were loads of PAX people at the station, which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have surprised me: the train is a long, but economical way to get back down the coast, and it has the added benefit of having more room – which means it’s easier to socialise and play games. It turns out it’s actually an annual thing, organised over the internet, for a lot of these people – a chance to continue the PAX experience.
Rohan and I paid extra to get a sleeper rather than reclining chairs. The basic sleeper isn’t huge (during the day, there are two chairs facing each other with a pull-out table in between them; at night, one bed is placed across those two chairs, while another folds down from the ceiling), but it’s cosy enough for two. Including in the price of the sleeper is all meals (but no booze), which is fun: there’s no guilt about ‘do I want dessert’ or ‘do I want a side of sausage with my breakfast’, because it’s all included anyway. You do still need to tip, which is where it’s helpful to drink alcohol – otherwise, you run out of change pretty fast.
The food is tasty, but nothing special; there’s been enough choice that Rohan hasn’t had to eat the same vegetarian option for lunch and dinner. Sleeper car passengers can enjoy free wine and cheese tasting for an hour each afternoon, too. Plus, there’s champagne when you first get on.
And the scenery is spectacular. I think that’s my favourite thing about train travel: there is stuff to see out the window, and it changes constantly. We started off seeing the outskirts of Seattle, including Boeing Field, and later moved onwards, following the Sound down through Tacoma and onwards for hours and hours. Eventually, it all turns into pine forests as you climb upwards through the mountains – and then when we woke up this morning, we were in California, and it was scrubby and barren, rather more like the scenery we’re used to.
There’s wireless in the lounge car that the sleeper cars have access to, but it’s come and go, with rather more emphasis on the ‘go’. I’ve more or less given up trying to use it – and it’s ok. I’ve been curling up and reading for hours, taking naps, and just watching the scenery pass on by. I’d much, much, much rather travel this way than fly. I’d actually argue that this trip – even in a sleeper car – is cheaper than flying and paying for a hotel and food. The same can’t be said for some of the other trips we’d like to do (like the Indian Pacific or the Ghan in Australia), but I think it’d still be worth it.
And sleeping on a train is much easier than sleeping on a plane, in my experience.
We’ve also had some interesting conversations with people we’ve met – some PAXers, some individual travellers. Rohan has found someone to talk game development with, which has been making him very happy, which is fine by me. I do kind of like the communal aspect of dining in this kind of situation, where you do end up talking to people you might not have otherwise met. Not all of the conversations are going to be good ones, necessarily, but there’s the potential for interesting things, certainly.
We’ve just passed San Luis Obispo, so we still have a few hours of travel left, but not so many. It’s all farmland at the moment (it looks like grapes, I think, but we’re travelling too fast for me to get a proper look), but we’ll hit the coast in a while, and then follow that for a while, and I’m looking forward to that.
As enjoyable as the trip is, it will be nice to sleep in a proper bed tonight. And nice to sleep next to Rohan, instead of above him (on a different bunk, obviously).
And nice to have internet access again.