It was a hectic day/week/month getting ready for this bike trip. The key point of failure at this early stage was anything that could go wrong with the train, our chosen means of getting to our starting point in Florida.
Tom, who has ridden trains on other bike adventures, led us to taking the Amtrak as the best way to move the bikes and advertised it as a unique adventure. Having some love for trains since I was a kid and a commuter as an adult bit the bait. We soon discovered that there was a decent priced package to Miami/Ft Lauderdale that included a sleeper car room for 2 and all meals for about $250 each for a one-way. Maybe the only catch was the 27 hours. But hey, I’m retired now so time takes on a new meaning.
The bikes went on at Newark surprisingly easy just hooking them up to the baggage car wall which we witnessed. The awkward part was lugging 5 smallish bags back to the sleeping car, then finding a place for them. My weight of baggage was about 50 lbs or 10 more than planned for. Amtrak tickets say 2 bags not totaling more than 50 lbs. but they clearly are not as anal as the airlines.
There’s this clear difference in train people where sometimes it seems they are too abrupt and expect you to know tbe routine, sometimes extremely friendly and personal and sometimes just a feeling that they don’t like working here, or maybe anywhere. Maybe that’s just what we all feel like sometimes but just don’t express it because for us it would get us fired. I’ll reserve my final opinions for later.
We adjusted to the micro-space of the sleeper car and had dinner in the dining car. We soon met our neighbor cabin across the asile. Paul and Eleanor from Fairfield, CT were a normal looking young senior couple who were very friendly and enjoying the train ride to Ft Lauderdale where they were going to catch a cruise to the Panama Canal. They joined us at dinner and we soon learned that Paul was an expert clock repairman and Eleanor an Exec Assistant in her day. Right now they were considering retirement and enjoying life and they liked train riding. Less hassle.