Tag Archives: Amtrak

Travel Time

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Travel Time

Monday morning was way too busy. I’ve been procrastinating about going to Canada and it was finally time to make some plans. First decision was when I should go. Health blip was taken care of and the fitness classes end next week. Guess I can go by the end of the month.

Next decision was how I go seeing as I am not flying on my broom. My first choice was Amtrak. But it got rather complicated when it came to crossing the border. Guess I’m flying.

Flights were tricky to book. My favorite airline, Alaska, won’t get me to Winnipeg. Air Canada flights and connections were a nightmare. Would have to claim my bag in Vancouver when going through Customs and recheck it. Guess it’s Delta.

Now I have to get to SeaTac. Best option is Wenatchee Valley Shuttle. And it will get me there late at night in time for the Red Eye to Minneapolis. One less hotel to book.

A long enough layover in Minneapolis before the flight to Winnipeg so that my cane can remain collapsed in my carry on. Another advantage is that leaves only one stop with one airline to misplace my bag. And it will go right through to Winnipeg hopefully. Inevitable delays in Customs will not result in a missed connection, just my friend Lise drinking way too many cups of coffee waiting for me.

Then there’s health insurance for the remainder of my time here in the USA. And settling the bill with Confluence for the health blip. And booking that last hair appointment at the salon. And a few other last minute phone calls and texts to get organized. And the obligatory FLIGHTS BOOKED announcement on Facebook.

Not bad. I started at 8:30 am and was done by 12:01 pm. Not even thinking about packing yet, although I did pick up some packing cubes last week. I guess I have to leave something for next week.

Let’s Go

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Let’s Go

Ok. I’ve been in areas and experienced tornados, hurricanes,thunderstorms and blizzards. I’ve seen hail the size of golf balls and have been caught up in flash flooding. But on Sunday I added mud slides to the list. From sunshine to rain to flooding to mud slides in a matter of minutes. Power outages affecting traffic lights and even shutting down Walmart and the movie theaters. Wenatchee was a mess!

Yesterday I was in Ellensburg. It was a gorgeous, hot and sunny day. The drive over Blewett from Leavenworth was beautiful. I never tire of driving through the mountains in Washington. The scenery is spectacular.

When I write I always have music on in the background. The latest added to my playlist is some Marianas Trench from about ten years ago. Don’t ask me why but Celebrity Status has always been one of my faves by this Canadian rock band.

The other day we went exploring at a Coastal store. My friend is an avid equestrian and showed me all kinds of saddles, chaps and other paraphernalia associated with horses. My favorite area was all the cute baby chicks in cages. Coastal also has clothing, kayaks, wood burning stoves,cowboy boots, toys, feed, outdoor furniture and so much more.

I’ve started researching my travel to Canada. Winnipeg is not the easiest city to get to from East Wenatchee. By the way, East Wenatchee and Wenatchee are two completely different cities. The former is where I live and is in Douglas County. The latter is in Chelan County.

Back to travel. Shuttle to SeaTac and two flights or an Amtrak out if Wenatchee and hope someone wants to pick me up in Grand Forks and drive me across the border. Like I told Lise the other day, maybe I should just fly there on my broom! LOL!

Yes I Moved Again

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Yes I Moved Again

Hopefully this is the last Washington move. One night in Seattle, two nights in Leavenworth, one week in Dryden, four nights in Peshastin and now I’m in East Wenatchee.

I’ve unpacked one of my two suitcases. I got here Sunday evening so that’s not bad. The other suitcase has things like pastels and water colors. No time for that yet.

I went into Leavenworth yesterday for a SAIL class. Higher up in the mountains so it’s cooler and there is still snow. I’ll be going into Leavenworth again on Thursday for another class.

We watched House of Gucci last night. I am so glad I watched it in English. Had I watched it in Spanish in Mexico I would have missed a lot of the little nuances. Great movie and I highly recommend it.

For all my hometown friends in Canada…..you are now two hours ahead of me. That means I won’t be calling as regularly as when I was in Aguascalientes in the same time zone. Apparently Washington has also decided to do away with the time change starting in the fall.

The featured photo is the view from my street. I just can’t get enough of these mountains. Living on the flat Canadian prairies for so many years will do that to you. The mountains in Queretero always remind me of the ones here in Washington.

Things are looking better for traveling to Canada this year. Doing away with Covid tests to enter the country is a start. And Amtrak is going to start running to Vancouver again.

My thought for Humpday:

I’ll Try Anything Once

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I’ll Try Anything Once

Please remind me never to travel during spring break again. I thought I’d never get out of Tucson last Friday. Full flights, full trains and full buses. I wound up getting a shuttle to Phoenix. It kind of reminded me of the collectivos in San Luis Potosi. The driver was Mexican, passengers were all Mexican except for one other gringo who didn’t speak any Spanish. I actually loved that shuttle. I was back in my element again, immersed in Spanish. None of the Mexicans spoke English.

In Phoenix it was the same as Tucson. Full flights and full trains. I managed to get the last seat on a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles. We wound up leaving 3 hours late. The bus had blown a tire on its way from El Paso.

I had a great seatmate on that bus, a woman from Santa Barbara who currently lives in Vegas. We also struck up a conversation with a recovered alcoholic and a recovered drug addict who had both become Evangelists.

I got to LA and surprise, surprise. Couldn’t get on Amtrak. And I didn’t feel like starting up with LAX during spring break. Reluctantly I decided to take my chances with Greyhound again. The agent and I played around with all kinds of combinations of buses but I figured going to Santa Barbara or any other beach town during spring break without a hotel reservation would just be an exercise in futility. So I opted for getting one of the last available seats on a bus to Seattle.

I have to give Greyhound a little credit. Excellent high speed WiFi and great charging stations in the station. Not so excellent Wi-Fi on the bus.

Will I ever travel by bus again? Yes in Mexico on intercity buses. I miss ETN with the single seat and the computer terminal at my seat. But NO to Greyhound in the USA.

I heard horror stories from other passengers about missed connections and ridiculous reroutings. I was one of the more fortunate ones. I actually got to where I was going in a more or less timely fashion.

I Ubered it to my hotel from the bus station in Seattle just after midnight. I love you Crowne Plaza Downtown. A hot shower, a Keurig in my room, and a comfy king bed all to myself. Who could ask for anything more?

And I was able to get on the Amtrak to Leavenworth later that day.

What A Year!

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What A Year!

2021 is drawing to a close. A sigh of relief. Almost through year two of the pandemic. It appears that Covid and all of its mutations are here to stay. I wonder how different 2022 will be.

I was living in Wenatchee when 2021 arrived. It was my first winter in snow since 2009. While it was a relatively mild winter compared with the Canadian ones I’d experienced before, it was winter in a cold climate nonetheless.

This afternoon, seven of us enjoyed lunch together outside on the patio of an Italian restaurant. Now that feels more normal to me. With the exception of last year, outdoor dining in December has been the norm since I first arrived in Mexico in 2010.

In January I moved back to Leavenworth. There was more snow and the temperature was colder than in Wenatchee.

In February I was vaccinated and I began thinking about the future. I wasn’t ready to return to Mexico yet and the USA issued a Level 4 travel advisory against travel to Canada.

In March I retained an attorney and applied for an extended stay. I didn’t receive the confirmation that my stay had been approved until July. So I was in limbo for a while.

In April I had biometrics done at the USCIS Field Office in Yakima. Quite an interesting experience. But one step closer to getting that extended stay.

In May I moved to Dryden. It was peaceful living along the river, away from the hoards of tourists who continuously flock to Leavenworth.

The month of June flew by quickly as Amtrak became my new best friend. I traveled by train along the coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, visiting with friends in Portland and Sacramento along the way.

July and August were tense months. I was trying to figure out a way to get to Canada to see my kids and my granddaughter. Every day the rules changed with regards to travel restrictions. The Canadian airlines were gouging customers and I refused to pay quadruple the airfare I had paid before Covid. PCR tests were not available in small-town Washington.

In September I returned to Mexico for the same airfare I’d paid in years previously. No gouging here. No PCR test required. I was back home in Aguascalientes.

Considering that I’m not teaching or doing any volunteer work, I now find myself at more than halfway through my 180 days. The only traveling I’ve done was to Mazatlan for Thanksgiving and to Culiacan to see my family, as well as a day trip to San Jose de Gracia.

I will be with friends in Mexico City for New Years, and then on to Pechuca, Hidalgo. After that, who knows? What is certain is that the travel bug has returned, and that makes me happy.

This One’s Really Real

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This One’s Really Real

When I’m in Mexico, the movies I watch are all in Spanish. The other day I watched a movie about a plane that crashed into the Hudson River. I also watched another movie where a family survived a tsunami in Thailand. Both of these were based on real life experiences.

On Sunday I was scrolling through the news and an article about an Amtrak derailment caught my eye. The Empire Builder had derailed in Montana. Three deaths and several people injured.

The Empire Builder runs regularly between Chicago and Seattle. It’s how we all commute from Leavenworth to Seattle. I know several people who have taken it out east as well. And it’s also been on my agenda for a trip next summer.

For the above mentioned reasons, this disaster really hits close to home for me. It’s not just a news item about another train derailment. This is the train I see every day when I’m in Leavenworth. And I’ve been on that train.

Eight of the ten cars derailed, with three completely tipped over. There were 141 passengers aboard as well as 16 crew. Only the two locomotives and the first two cars safely switched tracks.

An investigation is underway and Amtrak hopes to resume service in the near future.

Despite this horrific tragedy, I still plan to ride The Empire Builder out east next year.

Made It To Humpday

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Made It To Humpday

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I wonder if Charles Dickens was forecasting the year 2021 when he wrote those opening words in A Tale Of Two Cities.”

My first winter in snow in eleven years was actually quite enjoyable. It’s much milder here than in Winnipeg.

In March the USA issued a Level 4 travel advisory not to go to Canada. I retained an attorney and began the process of obtaining an extended stay. Documents, documents and more documents. In April I provided the requested biometrics. But it wasn’t until July when USCIS officially notified me that the stay had been granted.

In June I went on my first Amtrak trip and visited with friends in Portland and Sacramento. The scenery along the coast was breathtaking and it felt so good to travel again.

Once again I’m thinking about travel. I’ve spent the past two days exploring options. It’s been nerve-wracking to say the least. And I’ve finally made a decision. And I’ve booked flights. But that will be discussed in another post at a later date.

Speaking of dates, September 20th is the date of the federal election in 🇨🇦, if the wildfires don’t burn the country down first.

Highs and Lows

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Highs and Lows

My amazing train trip has come to an end. It appears that I have brought the Sacramento heat wave with me back to Leavenworth. Yesterday was a balmy 110 and the forecast for Tuesday is 115.

Lots of highs from my trip down the coast. The spectacular ocean view in California…..well, I just can’t come up with the words to describe this. It’s something you have to experience. Even the photos don’t do it justice. I’d love to do it again.

Other highs I’ve written about in previous posts included the gorgeous rose gardens, the beautiful Japanese garden and the Grotto in Portland, as well as the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

Two places that I’d still like to visit are Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The view from the train was interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot to see in both places. Perhaps next time.

But there were also a couple of lows to this trip. It was quite depressing to see the extent of the homeless camps in every city I visited. They are everywhere and what upset me the most was the children who live here. They are surrounded by alcoholics, drug addicts and people with serious mental health issues. They live out of shopping carts and under tarps, and in tents if they’re among the more fortunate.

The second low was the ever present racial tension. Although this familiar logo was found everywhere, the damaged and boarded up downtown storefronts are reminders that the rioting and unrest are far from over.

My travels in the last three weeks have been memorable, but it is now time to think about traveling to Canada on my next trip now that quarantine restrictions have been eliminated for fully vaccinated Canadians.

Last Post From Sacramento

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Last Post From Sacramento

I’m sipping a last cappuccino at Old Soul as I write this post. This quaint coffee shop not only has amazing coffee, but the food I’ve had here has been delicious as well. The air conditioning and WiFi are added bonuses.

This is my last day in Sacramento and I’m reflecting on my life. I am thoroughly enjoying my travels on Amtrak. The view out the window more than makes up for the lack of WiFi. I’ve seen towering trees, humongous mountains, tranquil lakes and charming small towns.

When this is posted, I will be on amazing train ride along the coast to LA. Can’t wait for those ocean views! I read about this particular train ride a couple of years ago when I was in Mexico. I need to pinch myself that I am actually taking this trip now. When Covid reared its ugly head I doubted I’d ever be able to do this. But here I am, on a train headed down the coast.

This has been an amazing and much-needed trip. I’m just not used to spending 11 months in one place in Mexico without traveling and then eight months in Leavenworth without traveling either. Covid has really slowed this nomad down.

I am determined to seek more adventures for as long as I can. I’m not getting any younger but I must admit that the knee replacements and the cataract surgery have definitely enabled me to do what I do. Life is just too damned short and the days fly by even faster as we age.

June 19th marked 25 years since my mom passed away. I wonder what she’d think about my lifestyle. She lived within 10 minutes of her kids and grandkids, and hated going away for the winter without seeing us for a few months, although we did visit her in Palm Springs or in Port Charlotte. I’ve been living in different countries from my kids for the last 11 years and only see my kids if I travel to them.

I think my kids want me to settle down somewhere. Maybe someday I will. I’m just not ready yet.

Back on Amtrak

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Back on Amtrak

After a whirlwind week of sightseeing with Laurel in Portland and a relaxing weekend in Lake Oswego with Nona, I found myself back on Amtrak headed for Sacramento.

I love Amtrak! I don’t have to get to the station three hours early to go through security. My knee replacements don’t set off any alarms and a body scanner isn’t necessary. And the stations are smaller and less crowded than airports.

The view out the window is also incredible. It’s interesting to see how the terrain changes as we head further south.

The next leg of my Amtrak experience will be along the coast. But my plans right now are all about exploring the Sacramento area.