Soooo we went to New Mexico on the Amtrak train... yep. Here we go...
We went to the train station (on Washington, near downtown). Pathetic is the kindest word that can be said about it, considering that this is the third or fourth largest city in the country.
It was cold.
We went out onto the platform to wait for the train. It was cold. My boys were fussing about being cold, despite the fact that we were waiting for a train which they loved.
Train arrives, yay, it's big, the boys are impressed, etc.
Now we get to board... massively disorganized. Is there a line? Or just a pile? Do we wait for our destination to be called? Or just butt in. Finally decide on the latter, lest we just stand on the platform all night with three freezing kids.
We get on... tiny stairway, but I manage to drag the laptop bag and camera bag (and tripod!) through. We get to our seats... we have a row (2 on each side). Nice seats, lots of room. Quiet car, fairly empty.
Relax... boys are excited about train ride.
Train starts moving... goes right by all kinds of things we know... finally goes through Sugar Land which is fun for the boys.
We go a little ways (Flatonia) and stop. And stay. For. a. long. time. I'm dozing... strange bumping/jerking train noises.
San Antonio. We've been on the train for 6 hours already I think. We leave SA 2+ hours late.
More sleep. Wake up. Train stopped in the middle of nowhere. For hours. Breakfast in dining car. Lunch in dining car. We're now a small number of hours from when we are scheduled to arrive in El Paso.
Only we're barely in "West Texas" at all. The natives are getting restless.
Some guy is smoking in our car. Train personnel spot him and he heads for the next car. Conductor comes and escorts him to his seat. Soon he gets up.
Soon train stops again. This time there's a sheriff meeting it... smoker man is thrown off the train, apparently too drunk and stupid to give ID when asked and not cuss out the conductor. I wonder if he had a good night with the sheriff in Valentine, TX. That obviously wasn't where he was going (there isn't a station, the train just stopped in the town), and there's not another train for days. Have fun!
Are we there yet?
No. Finally the train seems to be spending more time moving than stopped.
Finally El Paso... 6+ hours late. It's cold. Very cold. My oldest freaks out and cries uncontrollably. He hasn't slept well, the train was very late, and later we find out his tummy hurts pretty badly.
Getting the boys and our luggage into my dad's car is the worst experience I can easily recall. One or more boys is screaming the whole time. We have three car seats to install. It's bitter cold (being now almost midnight instead of 5pm when we were due in).
Now we have to drive to Hillsboro, 2 hours away, ETA now 2:30am. I need coffee... where's the 24 hour Starbucks?
Finally we get there. It's really really really cold now. 18 degrees, turns out.
Hillsboro is small. Very small. Roughly 100 people. No cellular service.
The hotel is 5 rooms, one of which is permanently occupied I think? No staff, someone comes by once every couple days.
Key is in the room door. Open room... very nice. Rustic decor. Turn on heat.
Grab kids, get into room. Kids still screaming about the cold.
Oh and there are two large barking dogs in the courtyard. Nice dogs, but barking.
Grab some luggage. Sleep.
Wake up. Beautiful day... warming up a bit (the sun does that).
Good day. Dinner with friends of dad. Great house, she's a photographer, very cool. Good dinner.
Iain has to go to the bathroom... grandma takes him... he throws up everywhere. Huge mess.
Back at the hotel. He throws up three more times during the night.
Next day. We do Christmas. Very fun. Boys have great time handing out gifts.
Gabriel's tummy hurts. Very badly, apparently. He's pretty much fussing about it constantly (literally).
We scrap New Years Eve plans to go out in favor of relaxed time with family. Much better. Good day, fussing aside.
Sleep. Iain throws up again.
Next day. Breakfast at very yummy local place with great green chile. Gabriel hurts too much to go. I stay with him, mommy and the little boys go. They bring me food.
Drive up into the mountains. Snow. Boys have great fun.
Next day. Short hike. Most of family departs for El Paso (early plane the next day). We hang out.
We plan getting to train the next day. It's probably late. They estimate it late. I'm uneasy about planning on that. We decide to reserve a family sleeper room, given the troubles on the way out.
Next day. 5am. Get up, check train. Still a bit late but I don't feel like it's reliable. Assume it's on time. Scramble to get everyone up and fed and stuff loaded.
Get on road. Gas in Hatch. Look for Starbucks in Las Cruces. Big delay.
Train is now on time. Very anxious.
We make it to the station 20 minutes before departure. Get new tickets (for sleeper). Check 7 bags. Grab carry-ons. Kids. Get on train (YAY).
Breakfast is on in the dining car. Meals included with sleeper. Drop stuff, go to dining car.
Relax. Eat. Train leaves spot on time as we sit in the diner. Whew.
Sleeper room is wonderful. We can spread our junk out, lounge, no worries about privacy. Rest. Finally.
Train due in to Houston at 5:45am. Late would be really nice.
Nope. On time.