We drove to Milwaukee to start our rail adventure. Milwaukee is approximately a six hour drive from our home. We chose to leave from Milwaukee over Chicago for two reasons 1) traffic driving into Chicago can often be a bear and 2) parking in Milwaukee is easy and much more affordable.
We boarded our commuter train and set off for Union Station in Chicago. The first thing my kids noticed was how spacious the seats were. The second was the power outlet which they were super excited about so that they could charge their iPods. Yep, there we go traveling vintage.
My kids were stunned by the fact that were no seat belts and they could get up when they wanted. Overall the trip to Chicago was uneventful except for the fact that we got stuck behind a Metra train and ended up 40 minutes late into Chicago. We had to run to catch our train "The City of New Orleans". I'm sure it looked just like a scene out of a movie!
We had planned our journey in two legs. Our first destination was Memphis, TN. The ride from Milwaukee to Memphis lasted approximately 13 hours, we boarded at 5:45p and arrived 6:45a. We reserved two roomettes to make our travels more comfortable. The roomette is designed to sleep two. During the day the roomette is set up as two seats facing one another with a fold out table between the two. By night, the two chairs folds down into a bed and an upper bunk folds down from the ceiling.
|Roomette Chair (The bunk can be seen in the upper left)|
|Hall of Sleeper Car|
We retired to our little cabin directly after dinner. After all, we were due to arrive in Memphis at 6:45am. And off we went to sleep or at least we tried. We were in a car toward the front of the train and wow, do they sound the whistle--all night! I must say however, that on our return trip we were at the rear of the train and the horn was not an issue.
My favorite car on the train had to be the lounge car. It was wide open with large windows, chairs, side tables and booths. We spent a lot of time in this car on our subsequent trips. We played Uno, built jigsaw puzzles and ate some really great food that we brought along from great restaurants.
It was such a pleasure to be able to have fun with our kids for the entire trip! No worrying about getting lost. No dealing with the hassle of an airport. Yes, it took longer and ended up costing about as much as plane travel. But the trip itself was part of the vacation not just a nuisance that had to be dealt with before starting our vacation.
Would I do it again? You bet your billy goat I would!
Look for the next post featuring the first of our destinations, Memphis.
Check out Amtrak to plan your rail adventure!
'til we meet again,