We are back in Houston as of last week, where it is warm and occasionally rainy. I miss Detroit, but I am consoling myself with the fact that I can begin planting my garden next week. Our poor little house looks half abandoned, with filthy windows, piles of leaves, broken branches, a dead garden, and the yard overrun with weeds. It's like a little bit of central Detroit in fancy-pants west Houston. The neighbors are delighted, I'm sure.
We decided to make a holiday out of the trip back, and take Amtrak from Detroit down to New Orleans, spend a day in NOLA, and then fly to Houston from there. We purchased business class tickets from Detroit to Chicago, and then bought a large sleeper room for the trip from Chicago to New Orleans. The total fare for the three of us came to $580 after a the AAA discount. Not bad, eh?
We were really excited for the trip, and decided to dress as if we were living in the 1940's. Stone wore a three piece suit with a fedora hat and I wore a dress and long black coat and a broach. We put the kid into her cutest, fluffiest, most polka-dotted dress, because if you can't be good, then be cute.
Arriving on a cold Sunday morning, we found the station on Woodward Ave. Tiny, it looked a lot like a small British train station, the kind built in the 60's and 70's, boxy with a pebble-dash exterior, nothing like the abandoned architectural wonder that is the old train station down on Michigan Avenue. The walls were decorated with vintage Amtrak posters, and there were three friendly staffers, a generic security guard, rows of chairs, and CNN broadcast on an aging TV in one corner. I am delighted to report that there was not a single TSA asshole in sight anywhere, and at no time during the process was I asked to take off my shoes or surrender all liquids in excess of 3oz. Ticketing was easy and straightforward, and did not involve a Kiosk, but a real, live human who was happy to see us and thanked us profusely for choosing Amtrak.
So far, then that's Amtrak : 2 Airplane : 0
|Looking at the Wayne State University buildings across from the train station|
|The snow started falling as we pulled out of Detroit. Pebbles asked if the skies were crying for her. cute.|
On arrival in Chicago, we found the Amtrak lounge and checked in for our sleeper car. The lounge is pretty basic, coffee sodas, cookies, soft chairs and newspapers. You can leave your bags at the bag check in the lounge and thusly unencumbered, go check out the city. We had 4 hours in Chicago to explore the city. The train station is right in the heart of the downtown business / financial district and seemed safe and clean. there's some shopping and places to eat within the station as well.
The train to New Orleans leaves at 8:30 or so, we were delayed about an hour I think. The sleeper accommodation was really nice. I wouldn't do the trip with kids in regular seats, but having a room to yourself is wonderful. Each sleeper carriage has an attendant who will show you around, tell you about the places you are going, and makes the beds, and keeps the complementary juices, coffee, and tea fresh. If you book sleeper accommodation, all your meals are included in the dining car.
We had dinner on board right after we left Chicago, and then pretty much went straight to bed. We girls slept like the dead, but Stone didn't sleep too well. I think it depends a lot on whether you are naturally a deep sleeper, and whether you can sleep on moving things like airplanes or boats or not. The sound of the train horn kept Stone awake for a while.
|The Kid took this picture, from her upper bunk. we were just waking up.|
We woke up as the train pulled out of Memphis around 8, The Kid slept in until like 9:30! The scenery was plain but pretty, and we had breakfast and lunch on board. There are two or three stops in between Memphis and NOLA where you can get off the train for 10 minutes and let the kids run around in the fresh air. We got into New Orleans at 4:30 or so, a couple of hours late.
|the dining car|
The food in the dining car is pretty basic, but good.There is a kid's menu with the basics as well. The beer and wine are expensive, so in hindsight, we would have brought a bottle of our own wine to share in the room. There is also a lounge car with an observation room upstairs, where people play cards, kids can hang out, and you can stretch your legs a bit. It was pretty funny to watch the kid try to walk / run up and down the aisles with the swaying of the train. She looked like a tiny drunken sailor.
|some southern Midwest scenery|
|In our cabin. Thumbs up Bitches.|
|just outside of Jackson. We got married in a fever ....|
|this guy did the cooking.|
|crossing lake Pontchartrain on the way into NOLA|
The total travel time via Amtrak was 28 hours, including a 5 hour layover in Chicago.
We hit the oysters immediately. Good times.
|There is never an inappropriate time to hug a paper mache' lobster|
|This is a hurricane. It is disgusting.|
|the kid fed the remnants of her oyster Po' Boy to the seagulls.|