Monday, April 24, 2017

STILL Talking Amtrak Trip: Part Three

For the past 3 days, every time I wake up (in the morning or from a nap) (yes, I am still exhausted from the trip), I'm confused. I'm looking out the window and thinking, "Huh, things aren't moving out there. We must be at a stop." And then I roll over and think, "Hey! There's a green wall over there! This is my bedroom! Why is it on a train?" Also, the bed is rocking.

This is a little scary. I can see it happening once, but 3 or 4 times?

Donner Lake, in the Sierra Nevadas
Speaking of things rocking, let's talk about California. We got off the train in Emeryville (which is on the other side of the Bay Bridge, which is not the Golden Gate Bridge, and who knew there were so many bridges?); but, unlike all the smart travelers who immediately boarded a special Amtrak bus for San Francisco, Susie and I pulled our luggage about a mile (shades of the Chicago death march, I know) to our AirBnB, because it was so much cheaper to stay in Emeryville than in the big city.

No one was there. So we stood outside while I phoned and texted and Susie marveled at the "weird" plants on the West Coast, and no one responded, so we pulled our suitcases back toward the hotels near the Bay Bridge (because, why? I had never heard of Uber?), which turned out to be further than the train station, and there were all sorts of weird detours for pedestrians (Powell Street, WTH?) until we staggered into one of the hotels I managed to pull up on my phone.

There was no room at the inn, essentially. Only, while I was standing at the desk being told that, the floor was rocking up and down beneath me. Earthquake? I glanced around to see if anyone was running for doorways. No, everyone seemed calm. Maybe they were used to this?

Puzzled, I led Susie back outside and we sat down on a bench while I called all the hotels which we could see from where we were sitting. The bench was rocking, too. I could only stop the rocking by pacing back and forth, which was sort of hard after dragging suitcases for over 2 miles. I finally found a reasonably priced room at a decent hotel. "We just have to walk over there," I told Susie, pointing at the sort-of-distant tower. She looked at me doubtfully. "It will be easy," I insisted. "Look, Maps says it's only a third of a mile!"

Have I mentioned it was now evening rush hour, at the eastern end of the Bay Bridge? Don't anyone be asking me to plan your trips, is what I'm saying.

Proof that we made it to SF eventually...
In short, we spent close to 2 hours wandering around Emeryville (read, NOT San Francisco) with suitcases in tow, looking for a place to stay, while our fellow train passengers rode in comfort all the way into the city and were dropped off near their hotels. We eventually did make it to our hotel room and collapsed. And of course the room was moving as soon as I stood still.

Reader, I Googled it. It had a name! What a relief! But still freaky.

Susie and I dined not-so-elegantly on microwave popcorn and Nestle Crunch ice cream bars that evening, because that was the only affordable food in the hotel. Again, professional trip planner is probably not going to be one of my future careers. But here is the joy of traveling with an 11-year-old: Susie didn't mind. She was too enamored with the large bathroom and the real bed to care much. Also, I think she was relieved we weren't sleeping outside somewhere, huddled together under our luggage. Frankly? So was I.

I'm realizing I skipped right over Salt Lake City here, with its two yarn stores and majestic mountains and awesome food. That's okay, I'll get back to it.


  1. We will take it. Who cares what order! Funny adventures to look back on, but probably not so much at the time. I hope you got to see some good stuff too around San Fran.

  2. I hope the AirBnB wasn't prepaid! I would probably death march, too, I just never think of getting a taxi or Uber. Didn't grow up in a taxi city, I guess, then my next big city had excellent public transport.

  3. Poor thing! I think this vacation was fairly traumatizing. I'm glad you're home and can sleep in your own bed (hopefully the train confusion will go away soon!)

  4. Oh, the motion illusion! That's so funny- I've never had it from train travel, but last summer after a very rough ferry ride, the dock rocked when I got off. It passed quickly and I didn't think anything of it, but when I went to bed that night, it felt like the bed was pitching so violently I nearly fell out! My husband felt it to. Something about relaxing the muscles used for balancing I suppose. I actually thought it was kind of fun (I like boats).

  5. Ah you were so close we totally could have met up and I could have played a bit of tour guide. There is a really cool Tiki Restaurant in Emeryville :) Bay area traffic is horrific.

  6. Reader, I Googled it. I officially love you.

    After spending most of a week (occasional stops for a few hours) on a 65-foot vessel in Southeastern Alaska, I had to re-learn how to walk without looking like a drunk sailor. Luckily, I was 15 years old at the time, so no one thought I was really drunk. That motion illusion is REAL.

  7. I'm loving your train stories! What a cool adventure, despite all the mishaps. If it's any consolation...I plan trips like you do. If I ever say I want to take you on a hike somewhere - stay away! That motion thing you're talking about - I had that recently when we came home from our cruise. It lasted about 3 days, but the worst was the first day back. I'm not even kidding. I was so nauseaus and dizzy I couldn't do anything. I googled it to and it IS a thing!