Because MAN, does that make for a Good Friday or what?!?!
I am in Valley, Nebraska, in a terribly cold basement, tired and yes, even happy. I got in on the train yesterday at 7:15 AM, approximately eight and a half hours after departure. The train was a much, much, much nicer experience that I had hoped. The "quiet car" to which I was assigned allowed for one person to really have possession of two seats, wider and taller than a first-class airline seat. They had the ability to lean back almost all the way and offered a foot rest. I slept only about an hour on the overnight trip because it was SO COLD. I could hardly stand it, I was shaking and even my nose was cold to the touch. Just like a doggie. After 10:00 at night, overhead announcements are no longer made to allow people to sleep. The lights are dimmed and soft rocking back and forth of the train didn't make me sick as I feared, it made one sleepy. Had I had a blanket I could have slept just fine.
Denver Union Station is a HUGE, beautiful old station. The interior is much like Western Heritage Museum, for you Nebraskans. Upon arrival, conductors (in order of "grouping class") assign each passenger a train car. I listened near the conductor's booth to find someone who was also going to Omaha and was in my seating class, so I could stalk and hunt them down like a lion on a wounded gazelle. Had I been called to board by myself, I wouldn't have even been able to find the train. A spiky haired blonde man in glasses and earrings, who was carrying perhaps the largest duffel bag I had ever seen, fit the bill. He was even clever enough to wear a short overcoat that had perfect ticket-holding pockets, so he didn't have to balance his purse, backpack and duffel bag while clutching a ticket in his teeth. Note - to - self. When it was our turn to board, we wound around to a common hallway used by the light rail and snow trains. To climb up to the platform we went through a door labeled "Track 1" that was, I swear, no larger than a bedroom door. It was very odd, I felt like I should knock.
A conductor stands on the platform, and while he didn't say "All aboard!" used the "All aboard" tone of voice to yell to people to which car the need to go. I got inside the train and threw my largest bag on a pile of unsecured luggage. Coach is on the second level of a car and so I climbed a very narrow, nearly 360 degree stairwell to get to my seat. Above, in the "quiet car," was actually quite expansive. Each passenger had the room of two first-class airline seats, with twice the leg room and high seats which reclined almost completely. (While my legs wouldn't reach it) there is a foot rest for each passenger. The lubbing of the train and the dark, quiet car made me quite sleepy, but the freezing temperature made it impossible for me to rest. I had a hooded wool sweater and jeans but even my nose was cold to the touch, like a doggie. I had treated myself to one cocktail to help me in this endeavor, but it wasn't enough. So, I listened to podcasts and tried to not be too excited. It was like a kid at Christmas. "Go to sleep Dannielle, and when you wake up you'll get presents and love!" Who can sleep under those conditions? Ain't me, friend.
While I didn't have a great view most of the night because of the dark, I really got excited by the time we passed by UNL's Memorial Stadium and Lynn and I were already in constant communication. The scenery from Lincoln to Omaha was spectacular. As is common in the low-lying easter terrain, it was foggy and produced a soft but fiery red and orange sunrise. I appreciated the treeless plains in a different way than I had before, softer and less intimidating than towering pines and rocks. So the first train trip was good, but next time I need to bundle up like I'm going on an arctic trek and take lots of pillows.