"UH-OH!", the Amtrak Conductor exclaimed as she tried to scan our tickets.
(Is there EVER a time that "UH-OH" is a good thing?)
"There's a problem", she says.
"These tickets are for last night's train."
"UH-OH" said the old helicopter pilot.
"Go right now and tell the ticket agent your problem. Maybe there's an open sleeper on this train."
Heart racing, I ran to the ticket counter. We needed to be in San Antonio for a military reunion.
How did I screw this thing up this badly?
She spent ten minutes coordinating on the phone, then said "You owe me a transaction fee of $12.40. Hurry and catch your train!"
We boarded at 7 P.M., then went immediately to the dining car.
Sara Jean ate one of the best steaks she ever put in her mouth. I ate a grilled chicken breast that was mighty tasty.
Meals are included in the fare for those in "sleeper cars", and are wonderful.
The train pulled out of the station headed South.
Sleeping on the train is fitful. The car rocks side-to-side, sometimes almost violently.
Amtrak does not own the rails... varying freight carriers do. In some places the track is great. In others, Amtrak has to slow almost to a walking pace to pass safely.
We woke at 6 A.M. and prepared to go eat our "free" breakfast. While eating that meal we stopped to disembark/embark passengers at Marshall, TX. That process complete we left that station, only to stop about a mile down the track.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are stopped because the considerable rain they have experienced in this area has washed out the track in front of us. We are now waiting on construction crews to rebuild the track. We'll be here at least an hour."
And the train backed into the Marshall station to allow smokers to get out and do their thing.
FOUR HOURS later, we slowly crossed the area where the track had washed out, accelerated, and continued our journey toward San Antonio.
At Dallas we once again heard the Conductor's voice:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the rain in this area has flooded the terminal controlling our dispatch computers. Traffic separation is now being controlled manually."
That meant slowing or stopping to allow freight traffic to pass.
We arrived in San Antonio after 1 A.M., almost five hours later than scheduled.
We had guaranteed our room, so we literally fell into bed and slept like the exhausted adventurers we were.
We were in San Antonio!
It went GREAT!