So, as most of you reading this know, we recently went on a cross country train trip to visit family for the holidays. If you have never traveled by train, I recommend you try it at least once. It was an amazing experience! Although I will say alone with an autistic child, it was not easy! But I'll start from the beginning!
Our journey got off to a rough start. The morning before we left, our ride to the train station (and home from when we got back) fell through. One thing you should all know about me is that I have severe anxiety, so last minute change of plans like this put me in full panic mode. I had no idea how we were going to make it to the station, as it was a bit of a drive and I don't know many people here! But in the end, a wonderful friend rearranged her schedule to make sure we would get there! I cannot thank her enough for that! Crisis averted!
At the station was another adventure. Talk about your sensory overload! Shaun had multiple meltdowns as we waited to check in. Waiting and autism do not mix. Not to mention loud crowded train stations! (Which did not mix well with mommy's anxiety either. At one point, I could not understand what had possessed me to decide that this was a good idea. But we survived and made it onto the train alive. Whew. And once we were on I remembered why I'd chosen to take this trip.
If you know my son personally, or have followed my blog long, you probably know that my little man is in love with trains. Actually, love does not begin to cover it...he's obsessed. Is there anything more extreme than obsessed? Because that's what he is!! I wrote a post awhile back about how Thomas proved to be one of his greatest therapies. It calmed him, increased his speech, taught him his numbers...he even learned to read all of the trains names. The boy knows his trains. He still is learning body parts- but ask him where a firebox or tender is, and he can show you like its nothing! He amazes me. And so this trip was a dream come true for him. I cannot tell you the joy it brought me to see him in heaven like this. He was born to travel this way. Every time a conductor would walk by, he would start jumping up and down shouting, 'ductor, ductor!'. Adorable. They would stop and chat with him every time they came by and he loved that. It made the bad parts of the trip worth it! Usually, we make the trip home by driving. Nonstop. For 2-3 days. Let me tell you, it's not a fun trip! On the train, we were able to get up, walk around, etc and it made for a much more pleasant trip.
Now onto the downfalls. There truly weren't many. Mostly the sleep. We did not get a room in an effort to save money, so I'm sure if we had, it would not have been an issue, but as it was, it was not the most comfortable of sleep. We turned both of our seats into a makeship bed and laid across them that way. The seats recline, but I'm not one that can sleep that way so we curled up together. Let's just say, I'm glad I'm short! (I'm just under/right around 5 foot). Overall it was a good trip.
After much deliberation, I decided we would take the train back as well. A few days before we left, Shaun got sick with a horrible cough and fever. The night before we left he seemed much better, but woke up even worse but the fever was gone. I knew we were in for a long trip. We also had to switch trains this time around. I had wanted to avoid it, but in this case it was just unavoidable. Remember my severe anxiety? Oh yes, it was kicked into overdrive. At one point I was barely avoiding a panic attack. Partially at the idea of missing our next train, but also because of our luggage situation. Without going into too much detail, the original plan for getting to and from the station that had fallen through, also included plans to get all of our Christmas gifts back. Since that fell through, we had a ton of extra stuff we had to figure out how to get back. We ended up shipping a HUGE box full, and leaving some behind, but there was still a lot. And so I had a lot of stuff, plus a carseat, plus Shaun...who is a runner and cannot walk on his own in places such as this. And our first train did not allow for checked baggage. Things were certainly stacked against me! But thanks to the kindness of strangers and some wonderful Amtrak employees, we got our things where they needed to be.
Despite all that, I think the first part of the trip was easier than the trip there. Why? Shaun slept almost the entire trip. Really, I felt bad for the poor guy, missing out on all his train fun! Usually when he's sick he's still full of energy, but that was not the case here. He just couldn't seem to stay awake! On the last night of our trip, we finally saw his energy return and the trip went downhill...the little stinker had given it to mommy! It was horrible, I was sooo sore, and I didn't have the option of sleeping it off. Thankfully our train arrived early the next morning and I was loaded up with vitamin d and sinupret! Shaun and I are both feeling much better!
And so that was a bit about our trip. I feel like I left a lot out, and yet said so much. Ha! The point is, it was a great experience and again, I recommend it. We will likely being doing another trip in April and can see us traveling this way a lot in the future. If you've been thinking about it at all, give it a try, it's wonderful!!
Here is a slide show of some pictures from both trips. Enjoy! Thanks for reading!