The Cafe Car is Open

imageTwo weeks ago, I was traveling by train to Washington, DC. Windsor Locks, a.k.a. my home base, is only the second stop on the train that originates in Springfield, MA and the café car isn’t always in operation when I board. I’m not sure why, maybe the coffee hasn’t finished brewing or the cream cheese is still hard as a rock. In any case, a few minutes after we started rolling toward Hartford, I heard the announcement expressed in the title. If you follow this blog, you know how much l prefer trains over air travel and next to “All aboard” this is the thing I like hearing the most.

Travel is full of statements and snippets of information that greatly reduce whatever stress level I may have raised too. In addition to the two listed above, I also love hearing the following:

You’re all set” – That seems to be a kinda-sorta standard answer with the TSA folks at BDL where I begin most air travel. I love hearing that, even though I am still waiting in line with arguably the worst part of the process standing in front of me. The shoe-belt-laptop-phone-change-watch-and-liquid removing step that comes next doesn’t bother me as much as waiting in line for the guy or gal to check my boarding pass and ID. Even the scan, with its privacy-invading capabilities doesn’t bother me – move along, nothing to see here – just let me get to my gate.

We are next in line for take-off – Sweet! Air travel is imageseries of teasing moments. First, you are called to board, only to find yourself standing in line in the Jetway. I have been stuck in Jetways long enough to create the place on Foursqure (back before they ruined that social media service). I was even the mayor of a Jetway at BDL. Of course, exiting the Jetway puts you in a more cramped slower moving line inside the plane because we board by status not by row. And, once seated, stowed, buckled with seat and tray-table up, cell phone off, instructions listened to and puke-bag located, you wait. Sometimes you wait at the gate. Sometimes you roll for a while and wait or roll for a while and wait some more. “Next in line for take-off” means that it’s almost time to use the hashtag #upInTheAir.

…and I have a room ready for you – I don’t care if it’s on the umpteenth floor with a view of the building next door, my room is ready! That means I don’t have to do the hang in the lobby thing or sit at the bar with my luggage. Of course, that’s when I’m traveling alone, which I usually do. If I’m traveling with someone, waiting for a room / better room is ok…unless the person is my friend (let’s call him John).

Once, while traveling with John, we were told at the desk that they were upgrading us to rooms on the concierge level with a river view and several nice amenities but that they wouldn’t be ready for 45 min. I started to say “we’ll wait in the bar” cuz when you have two people; waiting in the bar is easy duty. My buddy interrupted with “we’ll take whatever you have available now” – rooms without a view of the river, and a room (mine) without a fully functional toilet. It worked, but I had to hold the lever down – the – entire – time. I thought of John each time I peed.

We have a nice room with an ocean view – This doesn’t usually happen to me, but it happened the year I took my daughter with me to our Annual Meeting. The downside of the ocean view rooms is that the cellular signal is weak. But, watching the sunrise over the ocean is a pretty cool thing.

I have a Dodge Nitro… – Actually, I don’t care so much about the brand / model, but the time that I got a Dodge Nitro, the two people in line behind me ended up not getting a car. In a Seinfeld-inspired moment, they had all of our reservations, but they only had one car.

Yes, you can eat at the bar – Because I really like to do that when I’m traveling solo. I’ve already explained the whole eating-at-a-bar thing, so I won’t repeat it here. If you’re interested you can read about that here.

This train/flight has WiFi – Of course, this is even better on the train where it’s free as opposed to the we-make-so-much-money-from-fees model that the airlines use. Thanks AMTRAK!

Use of cellular phones is prohibited – This may not last but I love hearing it. I am not looking forward to being stuck in front of / next to / behind some loud-mouthed town crier who feels the need to call everybody he/she knows and tell them the – exact – same – story.

An upgrade is available – This doesn’t happen to me often but when it does, I feel like one of the pretty people. This did happen on our honeymoon. That’s a different story but it had a very happy ending.

Go Buccos / Go Steelers – I am often wearing team gear when I travel and these two teams are as likely to draw a comment as the home team in almost any city.

31 thoughts on “The Cafe Car is Open

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  1. I too love hearing all of the statements you listed when traveling. I’ll even add one more. Our regional economy airline has TSA Pre√, and on my flights to and from Utah recently I had been randomly selected for that perk, and didn’t realize it until the TSA agent said, “You’ve have TSA Pre√. You can enter here,” Entering there led me to a line of 4 people deep, no belt, shoe, liquid, or laptop removal! I just passed through the screening machine/wand, and my luggage went through the conveyor X-Ray machine and Bob was my Uncle! I was through security in minutes. If I flew often I’d pay for that perk.

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  2. These sound so familiar during my traveling jaunts. Different countries have different versions of everything– in Hongkong we were offered a bay view room– we took it, only to find that the view was of a minuscule strip between two tall skyscrapers. It had good wifi tho. :)

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    1. I guess it’s the same all over. If I’m traveling by myself, I almost don’t care what room I’m in. When they say “ocean view” you should be able to see water. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the story.

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  3. Hey Dan! Those were all good – those Seinfeld moments can be excrutiating when you’re in them, but they make great (exaggerated) stories afterwards. You lucked out with the Dodge Nitro (never heard of it).

    Have only ridden the ski train and the narrow guage here in US, and once from NYC to Boston. All fun times.

    I like your photos – soothing beach.

    The phrase I like best when traveling is “Ladies & Gentleman, we’ve just landed at Denver Int’l Airport.”

    Home Sweet Home!

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    1. That’s a great phrase to hear. The worst one I can remember was when we were landing (in Pittsburgh) and they powered up because the airport closed during our approach due to snow. Onto Cleveland and several hours on a bus to get home. The Nitro is Dodge’s version of the Jeep Liberty. thanks for adding to the story Sammy.

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  4. Your writing is lovely Dad, with great phrases that put me right in the ‘moment’ with you. I could relate to many of your travel tidbits since many years ago I often found myself in ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ as a young publisher. Many stories could be shared between the two of us! Lol! Thank you for your descriptive words, so many memories brought back to me! :)

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  5. I still haven’t had a proper trip on a train. :(
    For years, we took the train to the fireworks north of the city every Fourth of July, but it was not a proper train, $5 tickets, 20 minute trip. We liked escaping the traffic, and several of those years, we had babies, so it was extremely convenient. Every time we go up Chicago way to see HME, we talk about taking the train (because we never drive while we’re there) but it never works out. In 2010, we came so close to buying tickets, but scheduling the return wasn’t possible. That turned out to be a good thing, since the train we would’ve been on had a collision, but I still want to take a proper trip on a plane!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not being able to be on a train that had a collision isn’t the worst thing that can happen. How long a train ride would that be? From here to NY is 3 hours, which I think is the low end of perfect. Long enough to get settled in and relax, or work or just stare out the window. Here to DC is 6 1/2 and I need to have something to do. Thanks for stopping by,

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    1. That’s one of my best friends, David. He lives in Ipswich England. He and I have worked together over the internet since the mid-90s. We met for the first time at a conference in Cincinnati in 2000. He’s been in the states several times, and I finally made it to Ipswich last September. He’s an avid photographer. If you check the first comment (mine) there’s a link to his Ipswich Waterfront blog. Spend some time scrolling through, he has some great photos.

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    1. On a recent flight, a woman was on her phone until the point where the Captain called for them to be off. She had it on speaker and was treating at least 3 aisles to both sides of her conversations. I hope they never relax that rule. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  6. I love train and bus journeys. I still haven’t been in the plane ever so I can’t say anything about it. I love traveling in a train where I get to scan the entire rural-urban landscape through the window and see all those settlements passing by. Let the wind blow right on my face.

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    1. Air travel is only impressive these days when you stop and think about the physics and the fact that you are flying. That and the fact that you get to a distant destination faster. I love the train.

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  7. Here’s what I like hearing…
    At a hotel: Yes we’ll give you a military discount.
    Air travel: Welcome to ______, where the local time is __________
    I haven’t done much train travel. Years ago, I took my three young children from NY to Canada via train and the most uncomfortable question I got was, “are these children yours”?

    Liked by 1 person

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