Thursday, November 23, 2023

The Tomaso Files: Another Amtrak travel story, Fini!

No Fenders Scribe Tomaso flashes the Peace sign after going for an enjoyable romp around the North 40 in Dave’s 1974 VW Campervan Bus! (The Tomaso Collection)


As No Hut-Hut Omaha Jokes Here! Pass me the biscuits Payton…


Ah, the aroma of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and don’t forget the cranberry sauce…


Naturally, with Thanksgiving commencing today, and everybody ensconced in the day’s litany ‘O Pigskin games. What better time to roll out another non related No Fenders racing story. Droning on in two part Harmony instead about my latest travel adventure, utilizing automobiles, busses and trains to go celebrate my birthday with Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen and Hang 10’ Hilo!


As here’s what I scribbled upon returning home regarding my southwards journey, i.e.; leg-two’s  return trip to Oregon.


Began the day by having Claudio waking me up at 4:30AM, when going outside to look at the Stars; notably the “Seven Sisters”, formally known as Pleiades. Then the Alarm went off obnoxiously at 6AM. Finished packing and having breakfast at 6:30AM.


Left for Train station at 7AM (30mins drive) with Claudio having me Checked in and seated in the waiting area approx. at 7:35AM.


Claudio & I chatted about worldly things, along with hearing some Farmers discuss their $1.5m (Million) John Deere tractors and setting up it’s GPS grid system to farm automatically. Before Claudio took me outside to the station’s platform to prepare for boarding my 8:08AM No. 503 Cascades Express to Eugene Train station, arriving at 1:50PM.


As the same station agent that had checked me in assisted me onboards, failing to tell me to watch my head when entering my seat. As Wham! I suddenly (lightly) smacked my noggin’ upon the overhead cargo bin, with the female Amtrak agent apologizing profusely! As I could hear Her apologizing All the way off the train, as I said No Woories…


The good news was that I was seated directly behind the car’s bathroom. But the bad news was that I was seated directly behind the car’s bathroom! And that I’d spend nearly the next six hours getting to hear everybody Slamming the door open ‘n closed, Urgh! Not to mention hearing the door connecting to the next railway car open and close.


As I’d tell Claudio later that either we didn’t stop at Kelso/Longview on the way south or that I’d completely slept thru it? To which He replied sleeping thru Kelso’s a good thing…


Yet this made it fairly easy to discern when the bathroom wasn’t occupied, before I finally made a beeline for it. Making sure to Duck my Head when exiting& returning

To my seat.


Being one of Amtrak’s “newer” trains, these car’s bathrooms utilize “pocket” doors that slide back ‘n forth into a recessed slot, for which I had no problems pulling closed. And even figured out how to lock the door. But when I was finished, originally I could only get the door to retract about three-four inches before it wouldn’t move any further, WTF? Trying to open it multiple times before I figured out why everybody was slamming the door! Since I needed to go to the door’s opposite end and push it slightly inwards to make it retract past it’s sticking point. Which presumably was to keep the door retracted when not in use.


Then just before arriving in Eugene I got up a second time and managed to begin opening the door on somebody who hadn’t locked it! Before I retreated to my seat and waited a few more minutes before the coast was clear!


As you may wonder why I’ve described the act of using the bathroom on a train, Eh? But if you’re Blind like Mwah, then this is always an interesting proposition! Since doubtfully Y’all have never considered how two public bathrooms, be it train, airplane, restaurant, rest stop, public building, etc. Are ever of the same design!


Making the most mundane tasks of daily life very interesting, from simply finding the door’s locking mechanism, the toilet, sink, soap and hand drying methods, i.e.; paper towels vs. hand drier. Not to mention if the sink’s water taps and soap dispenser are manually or electronically activated by sensors?


After a super informative and helpful female Conductor had helped me off the train, we were met by super Cool & friendly  Amtrak Station attendant Scott! Who politely escorted me inside the train station after corralling my “checked” suitcase, before parking me on a bench directly across from His station alcove. Saying He’d make Himself a note to come and retrieve me in 75mins to escort me to my bus.


True to His word, Scott approached me some three minutes early, and I didn’t even need my sign saying Florence. With Scott saying that the Bus driver would let us board early. As I mounted the bus’s four steps with Scott carrying my suitcase onboard for Mwah, helping me find a seat and placing my suitcase next to me, Eureka! As I was safely aboard my lone afternoon’s 3:30PM departure to Bumfiddle’ Florence ten minutes early!


After stopping in Venita and Mapleton, we arrived at Florence’s Three Rivers Casino between 5-5:10PM, which was pretty fast for Rush Hour traffic. Before calling our local Taxi service, who picked me up immediately.


Shuhzamm! I walked in the front door after the friendly cab driver Dennis asked me if I could navigate my Zig Zag walkway when exiting the cab in my driveway,  between 5:20-25PM.


While everybody I’ve told about this outing says I was quite adventurous, since as I mentioned previously. This was the first time I attempted getting to Eugene on my own. Making my connections with thankfully assistance from the bus drivers and Amtrak station and train personnel. As what’s that ‘Ol saying about it takes a village, Eh?


Going North I had the assistance of six people: Cab Driver, Bus Driver, Train Station Attendant and three other train personnel.


Going Home, (South) I had another five people assist me: Two Train Station Attendants and one train Conductor, plus Bus & Cab driver. With both of these trips taking approximately  ten hours, Aye Karumba!


Which being Blind, have I mentioned that lately Y’all? Without All of this great assistance, I couldn’t have done this “Solo!”


As the only two Problemas were on the way home, when the train station agent didn’t tell me to Duck when choosing my seat on the car and smacking my Head against the overhead luggage rack!


And then being so exhausted;extremely Pickled from being up for some 13hrs, I somehow managed to drop the three dollars change the Cab driver handed me when getting out in my driveway. Which I’ll gladly take those two items being my only issues traveling! Or at least I thought so, even though I totally remembered the cab driver handing me my change.


Thus for Humour, I vainly attempted going out to my driveway Friday morning when waiting for another cab, sweeping my White cane feebly around the driveway in Hope of somehow miraculously finding three dollars on the pavement, Hya!


As it just really bothered me for making a silly mistake like that! But overall it was a Great trip and the major issues of making my connections went smoothly! Meaning I can do it again in the future, Hurrah!


And then nearly a week later, Eureka! Wednesday afternoon, when I was searching the No Fenders “Office’s” floor around my desk where I pile my mail for another missing item. Arse-suming it was on the floor. On the desk’s left side I found three folded one dollar bills, Viola! Ergo the missing three Smackeroos! Which must have fallen out when removing my train’s E-ticket & Claim check from my pocket…