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austin, dc

It wasn't really a big decision, but I guess it must of struck me sometime last year that it'd be interesting to try using Amtrak for more of my travel. So I've ended up using it for most of my trips this year.

I took the texas flyer to sc08, spent a week in Austin, and then took the same train back. As usual, the routine is that you take a few hours trip to chicago, change there, then take an overnight train. Unlike the routes that, say, go over the rockies, the train down to Texas isn't especially interesting. Mainly, you see a lot of cattle. It's a trip up the food chain--watch the fields of feed in the midwest, then the cattle in Texas, then visit the barbeque places in Austin.

Then we took the Capitol Limited for a thanksgiving-weekend visit with my parents in Maryland.

I've had fun riding the trains, and I think there's some routes everyone should try once--in addition to the trips through the mountains, the Coast Starlight up the west coast is great. But I don't think they're going to survive as my default mode. It's not the delays (which I can account for), the time required (I can get work done on the train), or the occasional bizarre Amtrak employees (most of them are fine)--it's my inability to get reliable sleep in coach that dooms the whole effort. If there were some routine, drugs, or whatever, that could reliably get me at least 5 or 6 hours of sleep every night, I'd be happy. As it is, sometimes I sleep OK, sometimes (as on the DC trip), hardly at all, and when that happens I lose a day to the recovery.

So for now I'm calling it a fun experiment but I'm probably back to riding once every few years, and flying the rest of the time. Unless sleeping cars suddenly get a lot cheaper.

The DC trip was nice--we got to see some friends from high school and college that I hadn't seen in a while, in addition to the family.

When we came back to Ann Arbor, there was snow on the ground. Winter has come. I wish I could hibernate.