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color cycle (slow)

Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Okay, onto plan B
color cycle (slow)
So as I said yesterday, my parents don't want me to use an airplane. I absolutely did not want to ride with them in a car for four days. Well, a compromise was reached, and instead of leaving on an airplane at 7:09 AM in a week, I'll be leaving on an Amtrak train at 4:50 PM next Wednesday. Less security mayhem, and I don't have to spend four days in a car with my parents. I do have to spend two and a half days in a train with total strangers and sleeping in a chair, but that's preferable to me...

Also, from my interview yesterday, I'm certain I'm hired. I was interviewed by the head of the department, the man in charge of the hiring decision; he told me, at the end of it, that I was exactly what he was looking for and he hopes to see me back. There's no official word yet, of course (that's scheduled for Monday), but I'd say my odds are good.

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Do note that Amtrak trains have to yield to freight, so it might easily be closer to three days.

On the total strangers front, mostly I've ignored them and vice versa, beyond light conversations related to purchases of snacks and meals. I did have someone try to start a conversation I didn't want on my last long trip, while I was sitting in the dining car watching sunset over the Hudson River; after a few monosyllabic replies didn't deter her, I just said "you're welcome to the seat, but I'm not up for conversation" and she went and found another corner and conversation. Conversely, on that same flight I had been chatting with my seatmate, one of a group of railfans; I'm not nearly so deep into that as they are, nor likely to be, but questions of why we were being delayed, and why the train up had been (sheer chance we'd been on the same northbound train the previous day) did interest me.

Sounds like you've done well on both fronts. Don't stop looking at other employment opportunities, I think your abilities make you very marketable even with the limited experience you have. It's nice when you actually have to choose between two or three offers.

Amtrak is not all that unpleasant. I assume you'll be on a scenic route, since almost everything between the west coast and the midwest is scenic. So relax and enjoy the view. The food in the dining cars was edible if not spectacular the last time I went by train, but I seem to recall you have some very specific requirements so you may want to pack an emergency ration or two.

I was intending to pack as much non-perishible (or at least not-very-perishable) food as I could fit in the leftover room in my luggage. Since Amtrak has a monopoly in their own dining car, I'm assuming that the price tag is going to be through the roof. Since you've been on it before- what are the prices like for food? I need to know how much cash to have on me, since I assume they can't take credit cards unless they're authenticating them via wireless modem.

I haven't been on a train for a few years, so I can't give you current information on that. Prices in the dining cars were about what you'd expect in a mid range restaurant. More than you'd like to spend for what you get, probably, but not astronomical. I'd guess that dinners today probably run $12 to $15 but that's a guess. Lunch and breakfast are less, of course.

Long distance trains like the Empire Builder or the Zephyrs also have a club car or lounge car with prepackaged snack foods and sandwiches and such. Those are less pricy and about the quality you'd get from a vending machine on a college campus. Last time I rode they did take Visa and Mastercard. That may have changed but I kinda doubt it. A quick check of the Amtrak website may well answer all these questions. They used to show the dining car menus and all sorts of stuff.

They had the menus, but I couldn't find any prices! I'll be riding an Empire Builder for the first 40 hours, and it does have a Lounge. I'll be taking a smaller train from Chicago to St. Louis- too bad, because if it was an Empire Builder all the way, I'd be able to have checked luggage!

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