Remember that winter a while back when Portland got buried under snow and refused to dig itself out? How 'bout now? OK. Amtrak was kind enough to give me a voucher for destroying my holiday travel plans, so I thought I'd give them another try. Free trip, what could possibly go wrong, right?
I'll skip the suspense, the train was altogether mediocre and nothing major actually went wrong. Chatty Cathy sat next to me half of the way there (with BO worse than mine) and the water on the train tasted like it came straight from a river. To solve these problems for the return trip, I bought some single-serving fruit punch mix packets and didn't sleep for 24 before departure. Most of the return leg was spent in dreamland and when I was awake, I was sippin' on some tasty artificial colors and flavors instead of straight fish spit. Yum!
The point of all this gallivanting was to spend time with my family. Everybody was back home for the first time since people were doing the macarena. Packed in to the house where I grew up were 14 of us, including little girls age 3, 4 and 7. They're cute, but when you get them all together they're too energetic for me. Something like five Nerf guns were rat-a-tat-tat-ing everything that moved (suction tips DO stick to bald heads!). I'm sure I heard the carpet screaming for mercy. Effective birth control, I say.
My sleep schedule never seemed to mesh with everyone else's. My Pacific time body was up until 4am Central time playing poker every night. Since it always feels like midnight in the dungeon where I slept, the first day I woke up at 4pm. After that it was pretty well over. Everyone else got up when the girls got up (7 or 8am). Right about the time I was getting up, they were taking their afternoon naps. One morning, with the motivation of my mom's sweet rolls I rolled out of bed before noon. We generally just got together for the important stuff, dinner and one night of fireworks. Going by smells worked pretty well. If you smell coffee, it's too early. Go back to sleep. Bug spray and cut grass come later. The smell of food cooking always brings good news. The nights smelled like gunpowder and beer. No watch necessary.
Somehow, Amtrak messed up again, leaving me with even more money in vouchers. Maybe they just want me to see my family more often. Can't much argue that.