Princess Muse

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musings on Vacation and the Auto Train

Did ya miss me?

Sorry I've been away for so long.... work has been a little hectic, and then I went on vacation.  And where does a Muse vacation?  Well, I suppose most would go to Greece, but this one goes to LegoLand and Disney World in Florida.

We took the Auto Train this time, instead of me driving down to Florida.  I still didn’t get much sleep (we were right in front of the Lounge Car, so anytime anyone went into it, the noise tended to wake me up.  On our way back, I think I’ll make sure I take a sleep aid and see if that makes a difference--yes it did!), but I also didn’t have to worry about crazy drivers.

It’s about a 16 ½ hour trip from Lorton, VA (where we could load our minivan onto the AutoTrain) to Sanford, Fl (about 15-20 minutes outside of Orlando).  They make a short stop in Florence, SC to refuel and change crew.  (When we drive, Florence is our traditional stopping point to have dinner and spend the night.)
The Lorton, Va station
On the train to Sanford, Fl., there were about 490 persons on our train, with 250 vehicles.  We had 42 cars total (16 passenger and 26 car carriers).  On our way back to Lorton, there were 212 passengers, with 107 vehicles.  We had 44 cars total (15 passengers and 28 car carriers).
The Sanford, Fl. station
We passed through Richmond and Petersburg, VA, but not Colonial Heights. 
The James River

Sadly, the AutoTrain serves Pepsi, not Coke.  Note to self:  buy a six pack of Coke to have on the way back!
Missy’s Top 10 Reasons Why the Auto Train is Better Than the Airlines….
Auto Carrier
  1. I only have to be there an hour ahead of departure time (unless your car is oversized, in which case, it’s still the two hours ahead).
  2. Free wifi in the stations.  And it was easy to get to sign on.  I’ve been to a few airports that promised “free wifi,” but getting to the “acceptance” page was hard.  No wifi  on the trains, but that’s okay.
  3.   NO TSA.  No patdowns, no metal detectors, no taking off your shoes.
  4.  Legroom!  With my derriere all the way back against the seat, I could barely put my feet on the foot rest--and I’m 5’7”.  Even if the person in front of me reclines their seat as far back as it will go, there’s still plenty of room for me.
Look at all the legroom my husband has!
     5.  You don’t have to unplug your electronic devices during departure.  No sensitive electronics to potentially mess up.
     6.   You can move around the whole time and there are no seat belts.
    7.  Free coffee, tea and water.
    8.  Dining cars.  You have a choice of meals (Salisbury Steak, Savory Chicken or Vegetable Lasagna), free table wine (with refills), and a choice of dessert.  The food was pretty good, with a decent portion size.
    9.  Power outlets.  We had two by our seats.  I didn’t have to worry about my electronic device running out of juice.
    10.  Sleeper cars.  We didn’t take advantage of this (I think it costs $50/person extra), but I love that they’re available.  Husband of one my fellow passengers had one (he has a bad back) and said it was pretty comfortable.

Our trip back wasn't as smooth as our trip down.  There was an electrical problem (I think it was just a faulty sensor), but it took a while to figure out what exactly the problem was.  Then, on the overnight portion, there were a couple of trains ahead of us that had mechanical problems.  Instead of getting into Lorton around 9 am, it was about 12:15 pm.  Then it was almost an hour to get our car off the carrier.  Even with these problems, I still would rather take the train than fly.

Well, I have to finish my musings on all the aMusements I had last week....tomorrow:  LegoLand Florida!

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