Uh-oh … comes today an email from Amtrak saying I must contact them about my forthcoming rail trip. I really hate it when this happens, because much of the time it means there's a "service interruption" … and that almost always means there's bus ride in your future.
There was, for example, the time I was booked on the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle. I forget the problem, but the net result was an eight-hour bus ride from Chicago to Minneapolis. Instead of a nice, relaxing dinner in the Builder's dining car, it was a cold boxed meal and a warm Sierra Mist.
Another time -- this was before Hurricane Katrina -- I was on the Sunset Limited heading east all the way to Orlando. Once there, I was going to rent a car and drive to Fort Myers for a visit with my parents. But somewhere in Louisiana came the dreaded phone call with the news that there was some kind of problem up ahead in Mississippi and we would be put on a bus in New Orleans for the ride to Orlando.
I suggested to a conductor that it would be faster and more comfortable if I just rented a car in New Orleans and drove straight to Fort Myers. He looked at me pityingly. "Son", he said, "It's Mardi Gras in N'Awlins! The Lord God Jehovah Hisself couldn't find a rental car in that town tonight!"
He was right. That bus ride was eleven hours.
Todays email made reference to my upcoming trip which includes the California Zephyr from Sacramento to Chicago, where I'll connect with the Lake Shore Limited to Springfield, Mass.
It seems CSX is working on a stretch of track in Western Massachusetts but, to my unbounded relief, my bus ride will only be from Albany to Springfield and will take just about 90 minutes. That I can deal with.
But, for the record, I hate those damn buses!