Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Trainus Interruptus

So Mom & I got on the Amtrak Thruway bus bound for Emeryville so we could catch the Coast Starlight to Seattle. The driver was chatty, and asked us how far we're going. "Seattle" I say brightly. I was very excited.

"You know you have to take the train to the bus and then get back on the train again?"

No. I did not know. Amtrak did not see fit to tell me this on their web site when I checked my train's status, or anywhere else that I happened to be poking around. It seems that back in March part of the tracks in Oregon washed out because of erosion in the mountains. It is now early May and they haven't been able to fix them due to the weather or whatever.

At this point we were sitting on the bus going around to the different stops in San Francisco to pick up passengers. I called Amtrak reservations and found out that we could be on the bus for 4 to 6 hours to get around the slide. I am not amused. I did not shell out for sleeping compartment accommodations to sit on a bus. My mom has arthritis in her knees and simply cannot sit that long. Flying 5+ hours transcon is about all she can take, and she just did that yesterday.

I make a quick executive decision, called United, and got us plane tickets for tomorrow in the early afternoon. Fortunately they were less expensive than I thought they would be. We had the bus driver leave us at his last San Francisco stop, the Ferry Building, and got Susie to drive us back home.

I'm very disappointed because we had been planning this trip on the Coast Starlight since February. I'm unhappy that Amtrak never bothered to inform at least their premium passengers that there was a rather long bus transfer involved. I'm going to try to get our money back but I'm doubtful it will work out -- we tried to call customer service but they were closed, so at this point we are considered a "no show" for the trip and the accommodations.

On the other hand, I'm kind of pleased with my quick thinking and the extensive library of phone numbers in my cell phone that enabled me to set this all up so quickly. We're all set for another bon voyage tomorrow!

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