Three years ago, in the spring, I took Amtrak from San Diego to Palatka, Florida, where my daughter lives. I took the Coaster from San Diego to Los Angeles where I transferred to the train that would take three days and two nights to get to Chicago. Transferred again to go down the east coast and got off in Virginia to spend one night with my grandson, Austin, and his fiancé (now wife) Marlo. She was still in the Navy and had to work so Austin and I went into Alexandria to find a place for dinner. We parked and then wandered out to the sidewalk to decide whether to go right or left to find a restaurant. Right across the street was the Bilbo Baggins restaurant! Austin was the one I took to New Zealand to see all the places that they filmed Lord of the Rings! Bilbo Baggins was a major character in that film. I turned to my grandson and pointed across the street. “Austin, we have to eat there!” He looked and grinned, “Yes, Grandma, we have to eat there!” We had a wonderful meal.

I got back on the train the next morning to spend one more night on the way to the brief stop in Palatka where Karen picked me up. My small stateroom was right next to the dining car and the food was delicious. I had three entries to choose from for each meal. I could eat and enjoy conversation that was always interesting with others at my table, and watch the scenery go by. I could retire to my little stateroom and sit in the armchair next to the window to read or just watch the scenery go by. The porter made up my bed each night and when I was at breakfast the next morning put it back as a couch again. The only thing I couldn’t get used to, was my bed rocking. At home it is decidedly stationary! Also, I learned that when wanting to take a shower, I made sure my blinds were closed, got ready, and when the train stopped for a few minutes, took a very quick shower, and got out before the train moved again. Taking a shower in a rocking train is NOT recommended!