...this one has come to an end.
It's always paradoxical that the end of a vacation is seen as something of a relief. Not that I'm eager to return to work; on the contrary, I know exactly what awaits me, and the thought is daunting. No, it's the idea that we are safe and sound at home (which is also safe and sound) where we will be sleeping in our own beds and grazi... er, eating our own food, and sitting in our own fit-to-form furniture. Aaaaaah.
I'm still glad we took the train. The Woodyettes have now had their experience with a train ride up and down the western coast of the country. They slept in coach going up, and first class coming back down. Jelly got to ride in a bunk bed with seat belts, for crying out loud. How cool is that?? We, of course, learned quite a lot about traveling by train. We don't sleep so well on those "mattresses" that were hand-woven by crazed monks who had been sampling too much of their own cooking. Plus, when they're being used as seats during the day, they're not all that comfortable, either. We found ourselves being a little envious of the folks ahead of us in the car that had those two-seater sleepers. Those reclined during the day.
[scribbles in a notebook entitled "Future Woody Family Train Trips"]
Also, the words "pack light" will be lasered on our foreheads for future reference. We had - as carry-ons, mind you - packed roughly the equivalent of twelve cruise trunks full of stuff in only four backpacks and one heavily bungee'd stack of stuff without which we could not live on this trip. The Doodle Woodyette literally had to lean well over forty-five degrees into the wind in order to carry her backpack. Fortunately, she only had to do this to get on and off the train. Daddy carried it the rest of the time.
Of course, the train was never on time. Amtrak has a hard-earned reputation for being anywhere from 1 to 17 hours late on the Coast Starlight, and those days when it happens to arrive somewhere on time are counted as accounting errors. Going up we were three hours late. Coming home it was five-plus. This became a huge deal when that lateness put us in Oxnard (NOT a fun town to be out in public after midnight!) at around 1:00 in the morning. This meant getting family out of bed (or, probably more accurately, keeping them up) to come pick us up. We didn't dare leave our car there. It's no darn'd fun driving a car home that no longer technically exists except for a thank-you note from the gangsters that stole it.
No, we're glad to be home. I'm even (contrary to what I said earlier) looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Yes, I know that gloom and doom will assail me the minute I step in the office. Still, if past history counts for anything, I'll have roughly six hundred emails to wade through before I can even get to my phone messages. They won't see me for at least another three days, if I work this properly.
I already can't wait for our next vacation. I hear the Sunset Limited is always on time, except for hurricane season...