Please, share your stories of long train journeys...

Inspired by this thread. I have been fondly reminiscing all day about some of my long train trips, and I am sure some of you have tales to share, too.

My first trip ever on a train was when I was 3 or 4 - we went to my cousin’s wedding. It wasn’t far, (Yorkton, SASK to Vegreville, ALTA) but it was an overnight, and so we got a sleeper car. The only reason I remember that trip at all is the sleeper car had these hammocks for putting your clothes in, and I was so upset that I couldn’t sleep in a hammock like a pirate!

I remember another trip, when I was 18, from Brandon, MAN. to Kamloops, BC. I got carded in the bar car, and a couple of hours later, the bartender said to me “You have to finish that beer and get out - we’re about 10 miles from Saskatchewan.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Nope, he wasn’t. Guess who the bartender was just as we left Jasper, ALTA…

I also remember a few trips where I got to travel with my guitar - there is something just incredibly inspiring about the fast, rocking motion of the train coupled with the stillness of objects in the middle distance and the fenceposts just off the train whipping past in a regular rhythm. It instantly transforms even a mediocre player into Pat Metheny. Get a sleeper car, a day-nighter or a window seat on the right side of the train and try it out. You’ll be amazed…

I haven’t even begun to talk about the people, and how fun it is to share stories in the dining car, or late in the bar car or the old dome cars.

Even on the short runs, our current family vacation strategy is for one parent and both kids to ride the train, the other parent takes the car so that we end up with a car at our destination, but we haven’t had to deal with anything like the same level of “Are we there yet?” boredom from the kids. We’ve gone to Ottawa, Québec and Montréal that way - it’s fantastic.

Lordy, I love the trains. How about you folks?

I took the train from Tacoma to Sacramento when I was 11 or 12. I remember not sleeping much (seemed like a lot of the trip was at night) and losing a piece from our backgammon set between the seats.

Did a few trips in Europe in 2006. I was living in Nuremberg for three months and wanted to see as much of the continent as I could. Typically, I’d take a night train on Friday, have a day-and-a-half in some city, and home on Sunday afternoon. Saw Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Paris that way.

I got caught up sighseeing in Paris and almost missed my train (frantic cab ride from my hotel, didn’t ask the driver for change, ran through the station, showed the conductor my ticket and the doors were closed before I got to my seat). I took the Thalys (the international version of the TGV) to Brussels (first class, sitting behind a crying baby) and changed there for a German ICE 2. We left about 15 minutes behind schedule (the only time I ever saw a late train in three months) and the engineer must have wanted to make up the time en route. There were TV screens that showed the current speed. The train’s max rated speed was 300 km/h; the screen said 296. There were lots of short tunnels on the route, and all the motors for the train must be under the floor because I was in the front car and could look through a smoked glass partition, over the driver’s shoulder and out the windshield. That was an e-ticket ride.

I chatted with a very nice Canadian couple; had a nice dinner on board, changed trains again in Frankfurt and got home by midnight.

To an American, European transit is borderline miraculous.

I spent 60 hours going from Moscow to Tashkent (Uzbekistan). After crossing the Uzbek border the conductor came into our compartment and undid the air vent system and pulled out about 100 boxes of allergy medicine the train officials were smuggling across Kazakhstan.

I went from Toronto to Vancouver in the eighties (I was maybe 17,) and passed New Years’ on the train.

I met a couple of girls and spent the trip hanging out with them. (All three of us were strangers.) We spent a fair amount of time between cars smoking hash.

One of the girls was also coming to Vancouver, and the other was going to Edmonton. The Edmonton-bound one made a case for all of us getting off with her, getting jobs at West Edmonton Mall, and finding an apartment together. The Vancouver-bound girl went for it and got off in Edmonton.

I was still living at home and didn’t go for it, but I still love that it was an option. I expect that that sort of thing happens a lot less often on planes. I miss the days when cross-Canada by train was an economical option!

I traveled through Mexico from Ciudad Juarez to the Guatemalan border by train in 1977. From Juarez to Mexico City it was in a first class car, which wasn’t bad at all. From Mexico City to Guatemala I traveled third class, which was quite an adventure. The toilet was a cubicle with a hole in the floor through which you could see the tracks as the sped past. We spent most of one night stopped at a station in a small town while we tried to sleep on the hard benches. The next afternoon there was apparently a derailing ahead of us on the tracks. In dusty blazing heat, we would move ahead for ten minutes, then stop for a while, then back up again for ten minutes. This went on for most of the afternoon. The only food available was whatever you could grab from vendors when we were in a station, usually grilled mystery meat on a stick.

The only non Mexicans in the car besides me were two backpackers from Switzerland. One spoke French and German, the other German and English. I spoke English and bad Spanish. The first guy was a friendly sort who wanted to chat with the locals. He spoke German to his friend, who translated into English to me, who translated into Spanish for the Mexicans. For the reply we did the whole thing in reverse. I often wonder what was actually communicated between the Switzer and the Mexicans.

I’ve also traveled across Canada twice by train, from Toronto to Vancouver. They took three days. Magnificent scenery in the Rockies, but they were much less eventful than my travels in southern Mexico.

When I was around 10 I used to take the Metroliner to Washington, DC to visit my grandmother, by myself. It was only a few hours.

But one time my parents put me on a little commuter train that showed up on the right track at the right time, and I didn’t know I was on the wrong train until the conductor saw my ticket. They put me off at a little maintenance house where the train people hung out, and fed me and we had a grand old time, and they showed me the inside of the locomotive where they worked, until they could take me back to my starting point and get me on the next Metroliner. It was all wonderful. I love trains too.

Well, this one’s actually my Mum’s story, but I’m sure she’d encourage me to tell it…

My father and mother were married in Glasgow during the Second World War, the day before D-day, in fact. (Dad flew Mosquitoes in the RCAF - 409 Squadron, the Nighthawks; Media Nox Meridies Noster) After the war was over, the Canadian government arranged transportation for the war brides. It was neither comfortable nor convenient, but it was arranged and paid for, and she was grateful for it.

They crossed the North Atlantic in winter - she said it was an extremely rough trip, but that was when the shipping was available. She arrived in Halifax, Pier 21. They would put the women up in barracks until there was a full train load, and then set out. Mum’s was the last ship needed to make a complete train, so she went pretty much straight to the train.

It was a train made up of women from the Netherlands, Italy, a few from France and lots from the UK. Right out of Halifax, the train would stop at every station and some more women would get off. Mum said the oddest thing was that no one got on. Most of them had no idea of the geography of the country, and even those that did found it hard to grasp just how far and how long a trip it would be. She remembered a Dutch girl who was sitting with her who asked at every station “Montréal will be next?” and the conductor of the train would try to explain that they hadn’t left New Brunswick yet - Montréal was at least a day and a half away.

The strangest thing about that trip was the mix of eager anticipation and apprehension - it was an adventure, and much more enjoyable than the terror of the war that was just over. For all that, they were leaving everything they knew behind, and nothing had prepared them for the sheer vastness of Canada, and the overwhelming sense of distance between cities. It’s difficult to grasp from our modern perspective - we’re used to superhighways, buses, cars, short range flights. In those days, emigration was a one-way trip, for the most part.

At Montréal, about a third of the train got off, and their cars were disconnected. At Ottawa, the same thing happened, as the Ottawa/Kingston/Toronto/London/Windsor contingent went on their way. Across the northern Ontario line, there was a steady attrition of one or two new friends stepping off the train at each station. At Winnipeg, those who were along the northern route had their cars hitched to a different engine, and the company was again divided roughly in half.

The loneliness of the prairie was what really struck Mum - this was what my Dad had described to her, but to a girl born in Motherwell and raised in Uddingston (both now completely absorbed by Glasgow) who used to go to concerts and theatre in the big city, this snowscape (early February by then) was utterly alien. She asked the conductor if he could explain why the fences she saw were so short - they were only one strand of barbed wire high. The conductor had to gently say that those were standard fences about 3 feet high, they were just buried in snow. My Mum shouted “The snow is almost three feet deep?” That was the moment when she said to herself “What in God’s name have I done?”

Finally, at Vegreville, Alberta, it was my Mum’s turn to get off the train, after nearly 6 days. It was my Grandfather who picked her up at the station and took her to his homestead - my father had been ordered to report to Edmonton for his official discharge. It was two days before he could return home and they could be reunited at last. Meanwhile, my grandfather had shown her the farm which he himself had built when he left Québec, and introduced her to the extended ex-pat Scottish community in the vicinity. She took root, and came to love the country dearly, but every time I ride the trains in Canada I think of her and how intimidating that introduction to the country must have been. It’s one thing for me to have grown up with that vastness etched into my bones - it’s quite another experience for someone used to city buildings and streetcars.

My Dad worked for Canadian National for some years, as did most of his family; so when it was a question of “how do we get somewhere?” trains usually headed the list. Even for long cross-country trips–I’m told that my first train trip was when I was two, from Toronto to Calgary. I don’t remember that one, but I do remember the return, from some years later. Dad’s stories were infectious, and so I’ve taken trains when practical–and sometimes, even when they weren’t. Some things I recall from various trips:

– Sharing a table in the bar of a Toronto-Montreal train with a fellow who apparently had a girlfriend in each city. He had to get rid of one, and was trying to compose a Dear Jane letter using paper towels from the washroom.

– Sharing a table in the dining car of a Montreal-Halifax train with an environmentally-sensitive, teetotaling, vegetarian couple who took an immediate dislike to my lunch of a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and glass of beer. Things were, needless to say, awkward; until I pointed out various birds and wildlife outside the window. For all that they felt they were in touch with nature, they sure missed a lot.

– The sweet grandmotherly lady on a Toronto-Ottawa train who, after seeing I was perusing the Daily Racing Form, displayed a knowledge of horse racing I would normally expect from professional handicappers. She wished she could get to the track more often, but church obligations tended to get in the way.

– Travelling from Toronto to Edmonton, we all found out that our elderly barman in the lounge car at the end of the train was on his last trip. He had been with VIA, and before that, CN, for 40 years; and was retiring after this trip. He had some great stories spanning those years. As we approached Winnipeg, where the crew change occurred and he would get off the train for the last time, the lounge car was packed with passengers and crew anxious to hear one more story.

I’ve probably got a lot more, but will have to think of them. This will do for a start though.

When I was 12 years old (1977-78) old I took a solo train trip from Yemassee, SC to Perth Amboy, NJ via Amtrak. I was sitting with a nice older couple who was headed to NYC, and they kind of took me under their wing. In the dining car I sat near a big scary biker looking guy, stringy hair and all, flipping pages of a wet bible and blowing on them. He told me he was in a bad way and was sleeping on a bench the previous night, and when he awoke in the rain, that bible was there and he took it as a sign to turn himself around. When Perth Amboy came up, I scooped up my bag and was waiting at the door. I got off, at this tiny station, and saw the biggest friggin rat in the stairwell up to the parking lot, so went up the other stairs to my relatives who were picking me up.

The next week, the rest of my family, who had traveled by car, were up, and we were in NYC shopping. On the 7th Floor of Macy’s who did I run into but that elder couple who had taken care of me! 7 million people (at that time) and I run into them! They were thrilled to see me with my family. They filled me in on what had happened after I grabbed my bag.

The conductor had come to my seat to get the unaccompanied minor, and I wasn’t there. The elder couple hadn’t seen me in a while, and quite the search was on for me aboard the train while I was battling giant rats at the station. They couldn’t find me, and sent a runner to the station to tell them they would find me and send me back to Perth Amboy on the next returning train since they had to leave. Obviously they never found me, and the mystery had persisted.

February before last, the Quebec NDP held a candidate training session in Rimouski, which I attended as an executive member. Since it was in the middle of winter, I was able to get reasonably cheap train tickets to get out there, including a sleeper back. Down, I hung out in the club car (the only place with a power outlet on the ancient cars then used for the Gaspé run) and listen to some old men argue loudly. Up, I enjoyed the first time in a sleeper car since I was a toddler, and was fresh and rested by the time I got to Montreal.

I did pretty much my whole trip through Europe this summer by train. Some of the most notable train journeys were:

  • the sleeper car from Vienna to Venice, chatting (partly in German! this was an accomplishment for me) with the well-heeled Viennese couple sharing my compartment who were going down for the Biennale;
  • the trip from from Florence to Marseille via Genoa, Ventimiglia, Nice, a train strike, and the most crowded compartment ever – fortunately, the Mediterranean was on my side;
  • my first ever TGV trip, from Marseille to Lyon;
  • the epic journey (referred to in the other thread) from Lure in Franche-Comté to Copenhagen by way of Belfort, Mulhouse, Basel (and a nice smooch from the young fellow I travelled with up to that point), the overnight second-class seat to Hamburg, a fortunate transfer there that was twenty minutes instead of four hours, a train ferry across the Belt, and the second most crowded compartment ever.

Of course, none of this is a patch on the fellow I stayed with in Marseille, a serious rail fan, who’s taken most of the world’s famous long train trips. His biggest achievement was going from Tokyo to Marseille by rail – Tokyo to the ferry to Vladivostok, then the Transsiberian, then via Slovakia home, taking about two weeks and, most bewilderingly, costing an absolute pittance (only a few hundred euro).

The longest train journey I ever had took just 10 hours (it was supposed to take 8, but the tracks are too old and worn), and it was on a sleeper car. It was the best sleep ever! I usually need a long time until I fall asleep, and then I wake up at the littlest sound. But this time I slept like a really tired dog. :smiley:

I think I have some dust in my eye…

Here’s one from our Calgary-Toronto trip when I was a child. Dad loved retelling this story, and I remember the events as well, so here we go…

We had been living in Calgary, but were moving back to Toronto, and the train was how Dad chose to move the family. There were four of us: Dad, Mom, me, and my baby sister, who really was a baby at the time. She needed diapers, bottles to be warmed, and so on. Even though he no longer worked for any railroad, Dad had called home some favours from some friends who did, and so we had the biggest room on the train: a drawing room, known today as a triple bedroom. Perfect for our family, especially considering my sister and her needs.

Before we left, one of Dad’s business associates presented him with a 40-ounce bottle of rye as a goodbye gift. Neither Dad nor Mom liked rye much, but I understand that Dad accepted the gift graciously, and brought the bottle with him on the train.

We boarded in Calgary, and the red cap handed all our things off to our car’s porter, who helped us settle in. He made sure Mom and Sis were comfortable, and that Dad was happy with everything. Dad was, but before the porter left to attend to other matters, there was one thing Dad wanted. He put the 40-ounce bottle of rye on the table and asked for three glasses and ice.

The porter looked at Mom, at Dad, and at me; and then looked at the bottle. “Three glasses, sir?”

“Three glasses,” Dad replied. “And ice.”

Well, the porter was the porter and if the passenger had a reasonable request, it was his job to fulfil it. So he went and brought back three glasses and an ice bucket on a tray.

“Ah, thank you,” Dad said to the porter. “Now, one more thing–would you do the honours?”

“Certainly, sir,” said the porter, and put some ice and a finger of rye into a glass before serving it to Mom. Then he did the same for Dad. Then he hesitated, looking at me.

“Just like you did for my wife and me, please, Porter,” Dad said. The porter nervously complied, but when he finished pouring a finger of rye in the glass and was recapping the bottle, Dad said, “I think a little more, Porter, please.”

“More, sir?”

“More, please, Porter.”

The porter complied, another finger. “More, please, Porter.”

This went on until the glass–a good-sized highball glass–had some ice in it, and plenty of rye. There was no more room for rye, actually.

“Now, Porter,” Dad said, “I’m pretty sure that you don’t normally keep glasses and ice at your porter station, so you probably had to go back to the dining car for those. And I’m also pretty sure that you’ve got some pals in that dining car who helped you put this tray together. Am I right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’d like to thank you and those friends of yours in the dining car. Why don’t you take this glass back to the fellows? You can all divide it up and enjoy it when you get off-duty.”

The porter visibly relaxed. He was not going to be expected to serve a glass of liquor to a child. “I will, sir! Thank you, sir!”

Dad smiled. “Good. Enjoy.” And the porter–and his glass–left us.

But he didn’t really. Because every time we buzzed for the porter on the rest of the trip, he was there in a heartbeat. He took care of my sister’s diapers, he made sure her bottles were warmed correctly, he made sure that our trip–complete with baby–was as comfortable as it could possibly be. And when we reached Toronto, and the porter was helping us debark, Dad produced the bottle of rye–untouched since we left Calgary–and presented it to the porter. “For you and all your friends who made our trip as pleasant as it was,” Dad said. Of course, Dad gave the porter a great tip in cash as well, but as I recall things, it was the bottle of rye that really pleased the porter. And, presumably, his friends in the dining car who had been great helps as well.

After I graduated college, in 1997, I did the Europe by train thing with my then-BF. We were in Verona, headed for Budapest, where the father of BF’s best friend was CFO for Ford-Hungary, and had arranged for us to stay in their house while they were out of town. Sweet, right?

We had the kind of Eurail passes that allow for a certain number of “travel days” within a 8 week period (ie not an unlimited pass). So looking over the timetable the night train Venice-Budapest made more sense; because of the way a “travel day” was calculated. If we took the day train, it would be two travel days even though it was a 16 hour trip. We call to let our friends parents know of our plans, and they tell us they will send their driver to pick us up at the train station. Ah, luxury! A person could get used to this.

So we get our passes validated, get on at Verona and then switch for our train in Venice. The train wasn’t busy and there was only one other person in our compartment – as it turned out, an American expat working for Schindler Elevator, installing elevators in cruise ships. His name is Lionel.

So the train pulls out and we’re chatting amicably with Lionel. About 20 minutes into the trip, the conductor comes into our compartment, looks at our passes, and immediately begins yelling at us in Italian and waving our passes around. Unfortunately, we speak about 20 words of Italian between us. Lionel, however, does speak Italian – he steps in and quizzes the conductor. He turns to us, “The conductor says your pass is not good for the whole trip to Budapest.”

The standard pass is not good in Austria. “Not to worry!” we clarify sagely, feeling rather wise for our foresight, “we paid for the supplement to pass through Austria.” Lionel turns back to the conductor and shares this. The conductor screams at him in Italian. Lionel turns to us again,

"The conductor says this train does not go via Vienna. This train goes via Zagreb and your pass is not good in Croatia. "

It does what now? Zagreb!? Croatia!? We are stunned into silence. We seem to have made a teensy error in reading the timetable. Croatia has only recently been a war zone! Lionel, seeing the look on our faces, quickly assures us that there is nothing unsafe about Zagreb at the moment - in fact he recently vacationed on the Croatian coast. We stop hyperventilating. So… what do we do?

"He says you must pay a supplement to pass through Croatia, or else go back to Venice at the next stop. " We are expected in Budapest – we’re being met by a driver. Our friend’s mom is an excitable sort - the kind that just might call the Embassy if we’re not accounted for.

Oh crap. How much is the supplement? We used up all of our Lira before leaving Venice and TrenItalia definitely does not process credit cards onboard. “He says it is 25,000 Lira each” (about $16). Well, we have some twenties in our “oh shit” money, and this does seem to be an “oh shit” moment. Yes, the conductor will take US Dollars… no he will not give change. Our conductor is pacified, our passes are duly punched, and we are on our way, falling over ourselves with thanks. If not for Lionel we would have surely been sent back to Venice, cost ourselves a “day” off our travel passes and maybe started an international incident

Lionel got off at the last stop in Italy (I think Trieste?). We were sad to see him go but encountered no more adventures on the train. And we met our driver no problem.

I want to take a train trip sooooo bad. So far, the longest train ride I’ve been on is around Hermann Park in Houston.

Houston has an Amtrak station. You can either go east to New Orleans or west to San Antonio and north to OKC/DFW->CHI or keep going to El Paso and Los Angeles. I’ve taken the eastern route before, which stops at a lot of small Louisiana towns and sees some pretty scenery. Be warned: Any train trip passing through New Orleans will find you having to spend the night in that city, which may or may not be good for you…

Here’s a couple more, thanks to my Dad…

Some years after we returned from Calgary, when my sister could walk and talk, we travelled from Toronto to the world’s fair in Montreal. This would have been 1967, and the fair was Expo '67. Of course, we took the train from Toronto to Montreal. Dad had called home a few more favours from his train buddies, and we had first-class tickets in the parlor car on CN for the trip.

When we got to Union Station in Toronto, Dad was dismayed to see the lineup for the Montreal train. It was quite long, and Dad had Mom and two impatient children to think of. We had reservations and seat assignments in the parlor car, and Dad saw no need to wait in line. So, since Union Station was Dad’s “home” station, as it were, and since he knew every inch of the station that a railroad employee would be expected to know, he said to Mom and us, “Follow me, and don’t ask questions.”

We went through doors marked “No Entry” and “Authorized Personnel Only,” and when my Mom said, “I don’t think we should be here,” Dad simply said, “Trust me, and follow.” Sure enough, in good time, we were on the platform by our train, and we boarded our car and found our seats. We killed time, and when the train’s official boarding time arrived and people started boarding, they (and the crew) were surprised to find us already on the train.

Many, many years later, I was going from Toronto to Kingston. Just for fun, I asked my Dad to meet me downtown for lunch, and then he could come to Union and see me off. He was agreeable–heck, after all, I offered to pay for lunch.

So Dad and I have a nice lunch, after which, he walks with me to Union Station. I see the lineup for the Montreal train (which will deposit me in Kingston), and it’s about as long as we remember from the Montreal train in 1967. Dad says, “Oh, screw this, follow me.”

“Dad,” says I, “I’m not a little kid any more. Yes, we could get away with that in those days, but if they have a problem with me now, I could be in trouble.” And I got in line.

“Wimp!” declares Dad, and leaves me in line and marches off. He returns maybe a half-hour later. “So what seat do you want? I’ve been on your train, and made the arrangements.” Turns out that Dad has been to the train platform, identified himself as an old railroader, been recognized as such, spoken with the train crew, informed them that his son is travelling to Kingston on this train, and that his son wimpishly chose to line up with the rest of the passengers. If they could make his trip a little nicer, well, an old railroader would be very pleased and thankful.

Unlike other passengers, I had to pay for nothing on that trip. I had a sandwich and a couple of beers, on the house. Or on Dad’s influence.

I no longer live in Toronto, but my Dad does. When I visit, I make sure that we go to Union Station. Dad is now quite elderly and legally blind, but he loves to hear the PA announcements and feel the hustle and bustle of the station he knew so well. I get us coffee and we sit there, in the station, listening to the PA calls for trains going to places, most of which Dad has been to on a train. We walk around, and invariably, Dad asks, “Hey Spoons–why not get us tickets on the Montreal train? Just for fun and old times’ sake?” I’d love to–I’d really love to–but I don’t. Maybe I should.

A night in New Orleans isn’t good for anyone. It is, however, a hell of a lot of fun. :slight_smile:

Grey Hound from Tulsa to Merida Mexico in 1961. 6 ferries and about 3 days.

Train from Seattle to Tulsa via Chicago in 1962. 28 hours.

Tulsa to Seattle on Continental Trailways bus in 1962. 27 hours.

Go figure…

Tachikawa Airbase Japan to Oakland Calif. in 1964 in a C-118 ( DC-6) sitting backwards. 33½ hours.

Trans Siberian & the Orient Express I could not deal with…

When I was 10 years old I traveled with my mum on the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney. It was a three night journey, 4352km according to their website. We had our own sleeper cabin with fold down beds and a wash basin - I think there was one or two showers per carriage. Meals were included and I remember enjoying the food until I got motion sickness and spent about a day queasy as hell. When I wasn’t dazed and vomiting I did a lot of reading.

It wasn’t the most exciting scenery in the world but even the Nullarbor (as in “no trees”) has a kind of sparse beauty. It was much better than driving, which we did five hellish times (four kids and two parents in a van for four days.) The stops in Kalgoorlie and Adelaide were interesting - I don’t think anyone needs to spend much more than 3 hours in Adelaide.

Nothing as memorable as you guys have told, but my love of trains began at age 9, when my father took my brother (then 11) and I to Florida to visit our former neighbors / adopted grandparents, and then my paternal grandmother.

We were leaving from Harrisburg, and needed to catch a bus to Baltimore to catch the train. Only, the bus never showed - fortunately another bus route was also going to Baltimore, and there was enough time built into our travel schedule.

Dad and Bro got a double sleeper, I got a single - I think these were first-class accommodations (i.e. a bit more leg room). Their room had a toilet in a cubicle, mine was across from my seat and inaccessible when the bed was folded down (so when I needed to potty at night, I had to call the porter since I couldn’t manage the bed).

Dad spent a couple of days with Bro and me at the neighbors’ place, then he headed up to Jacksonville to visit his mother. Bro and I stayed for a few more days then the neighbors put us on the train up to Jacksonville, which was sort of fun - we’d never travelled alone before.

The return trip was pretty uneventful.

The other memorable trip was in 2003, when we took the Auto Train from Lorton VA (very near our house) to Florida for a combined Disney / family visit. Dweezil, then 9, was OBSESSED with trains. We did not tell him we were taking the train… instead, we told the kids we were driving to Florida. Neither of them twigged that we were loading up the Honda Civic vs. the minivan - on such a long drive the minivan was the only sensible vehicle. About 11:30 that morning (they also didn’t twig that we might have left earlier if we were driving) we called them into the kitchen and said “well, there’s been a change in plans… we’re not driving to Florida after all”.

They started to get upset… then I plunked the tickets down on the table and said “look at these”. Dweezil’s reaction was priceless (yes, we had a camera on him). So I guess the memorable part wasn’t so much the trip, as the pre-departure surprise.