Some Things Can Be Forgiven; Others Not.
LOS ANGELES–For once, we soon learned Reality turned out to be less of a hassle than Worst Fears.Train number 3 arrived at the Lamy station just a few minutes late and we proceeded without incident to Albuquerque, a bit over an hour’s ride. It was there that an Amtrak rep gave us the skinny:
There had been a big derailment of a BNSF freight just a couple of miles east of the Gallup, New Mexico station. Most of the cars involved were carrying liquid asphalt and it was a real mess. We were going to be bussed to Gallup where the eastbound Chief had been turned and would be waiting to take us on to Los Angeles.
That was the good news. As is almost always the case, there was some bad.
First, Amtrak had been able to arrange for just two buses in Albuquerque, so at least one more bus would have to be found or these two buses would have to make two trips. They loaded sleeping car passengers and most of the crew on the buses for the first run. After delivering us to the train waiting in Gallup, the buses returned to Albuquerque to collect the coach passengers and the remaining few crew members for a second run. Bear in mind, the trip from Albuquerque to Gallup took two hours and 20 minutes, so it was more than four-and-a-half hours before the rest of the passengers arrived.
In the meantime, when our crew boarded and began preparing to serve dinner to the entire passenger manifest, they discovered that there was no water in the dining car. Regulations don’t permit food to be prepared and served if the dining car is without water, so a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant was called and we were told that in a little over an hour later, a truck would arrive with chicken for all. (It was never explained why the diner couldn’t have been watered there in Gallup.)
By then, however, I had had it. The cafe in the lounge car had reopened, so I went there and ordered a cheese pizza and not one, but two margueritas in a can. I consumed both with gusto at a table in the lounge car, then went back to my roomette where I crawled under the covers and went out like a light.
The dining car was still without water this morning, of course, so the only food available was fresh fruit, yogurt, and pastries
Through it all, most of the passengers took all the delays and the confusion in good spirits. I must say, however, the discovery at the last minute on Friday night that the dining car was without water was the last straw for me. I simply can’t imagine how that could have happened. I am going to complain to Amtrak’s Customer Service people and will let you know if there is any compensation forthcoming.
And so, all that remains is my flight tomorrow from LAX to Maui. As always, it will be very, very good to get home.
That asphalt was probably on the way to a subsidized hardtop project for the almighty automobile!
Wonder if you ever read Jane Holtz Kay’s book, Asphalt Nation. Published 18 years ago, it tells a story of lack of political support for public transportation that hasn’t changed to this day.
Haven’t read Asphalt Nation, I’m afraid. I’ll add it to my list, though.
Train 4 got through the area just fine today. There was a real mess of cars and rails there