Sunday, July 19, 2009


I took an Amtrak train to Washington to see my sister. After a very long day of work, I hopped into my beat up truck to drive three hours to the nearest station. Then it was only a day and a night more on the train to arrive, at long last, only an hour and a half from her house.

Despite the long trip, it was all worth it. The train passed by Glacier National Park, which was incredible! I saw several cute, small towns where I'd love to live, and met a woman who taught English in Slovakia for three years after she turned 62. It was an awesome trip.

The only downside was being seated next to a creepy old man. I tried to change my seat early on in the trip, but I could only offer a gut feeling for proof, so my case wasn't exactly strong. Given that a huge group of people was about to board, I had to retake my seat.

Luckily, a look of death kept him in line the first night (and a very watchful eye---I maybe slept three hours total, and usually when others around me were awake). I spent as much time as I could away from that car, usually reading in the lounge car while watching the great scenery. They had live music and a National Park volunteer to tell us about the sights.

The second night, my seatmate moved across the aisle. All was well and good until he started touching himself. I quickly moved all of my stuff as far away in the car as I could, and pushed the call button. When no one came, I went into the dining room to find an Amtrak employee. They got the conductor, and I explained the situation and asked for a seat in a different car. He moved me (unfortunately we had to pass the guy again to get to the other car), but all was good, as the conductor got a full view of his behavior as we passed.

Despite this one unfortunate incident, the trip was great. The conductor responded quickly to my concerns, and willingly moved me. The food was excellent, the other passengers very interesting and nice, and the scenery spectacular. I would take Amtrak again in the future, but I would speak up immediately about unsuitable seating arrangements, whether I had concrete evidence or not. I enjoyed my trip.

Do you have any good, bad, or just plain strange travel stories?

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