2. Train travel--a new adventure…January, 2022

Day 3 1.13
I had slept well & was up early for breakfast.  There is a little dining room just off the lobby, filled with about a dozen tables, a fabulous fireplace & a chef who comes & takes your order.  The menu has about 5 things to choose from & there is also bagels, toast, yogurt, fresh fruit & things like that available.  I ordered a breakfast quesadillaso very very good!

Then I spent the whole day walking around Old Town.  I went in & out of many of the stores & galleries doing a bit of shopping too.  I bought some awesome tea, a robe & my first pair of real Navajo turquoise earrings which I’d been looking for for a couple of years.  I love them!  Simple but a beautiful stone.

Loved these tiny alleys leading back to more stores.



The historic Catholic church in the square.

Outside of Old Town, I visited a Pharmacy called Durans that had really fun gift area & in the opposite direction, walked to an upscale food court I’d heard about called the Sawmill.  I only had a cup of artesian hot chocolate there, not finding anyplace I wanted to eat at.  About 2:30, I walked to an old restaurant that’s family owned called Monicas.  The waitress recommended the Chimichanga & it was so good!  But, here’s what I found out about the margaritas at Church Street Cafe…they don’t have the liquor license for hard alcohol, so the bad margarita I had was made with wine…seriously?  No disclosure on the menu either.  So, when I ordered by late lunch from Monicas, I asked if they put tequila in the margaritas or not.  The answer was wine…so I passed & drank water.

Then I walked back to Old Town.  I was on a hunt for a great margarita (I won’t retell all the details & facts that I have done extensive PhD type research on Margaritas & am an expert & what I like).  I kept using Google to try & help me & found a bar/restaurant called High Noon Saloon & the menu stated they used tequila in their Margaritas.  They opened at 4.

The front of this little bar wasn’t too impressive, but wow! the inside was great.  Really pretty & so much bigger than it appears from the outside.  The rooms just kept going back & back & past a super nice bar.  The pic below is one of the dining rooms (lots of statures hovering over you while you eat) but I took a space at the bar & asked the bartender for his recommendation for his best margarita.  

He suggested a "Down the Hatch"…made with Tequila, a red chile simple syrup, & fresh lime juice.  The side of the glass was coated with a housemate piñon salt.  This was a #10!  yay!  This ranks at #3 or possibly tied with #2 of my all time list of fabulous margaritas.  The locals showed up & for the first time on this trip, I was engaged in some delightful, surprising & sometimes unbelievable conversations.  Plus I overheard (two people at the end of this small bar) a really interesting discussion as I savored my drink.  Then I ordered another…which is pretty rare for me to have two.  But I wasn’t sorry…not one bit.  The food looked super great too, but I’d already eaten for the day.

After my drink was gone, I sadly left.  I walked back to my little place for the rest of the night.  Once back there, after talking to Danny & reading a bit, I was for a moment-- or 10 --considering walking back to the bar & having another.  It was a crazy idea & one I knew better than to follow.  In the end, I was a good girl, stayed home & read more (but I might have a tiny bit of regret about that!).

Day 4 1.14
I laid in bed a little longer this morning & made it into the dining room about 8:30 & enjoyed a really nice long breakfast right in front of the fireplace.  When I was done, I walked around the outside for a bit, then back to pack up all my stuff.  I refilled my ice water thermos, & made some hot tea to fill the other thermos (I can overpack thermoss & cups like you wouldnt believe).  Then I checked out, called my Uber & went to the train station.  The Albuquerque Amtrak station is also the Greyhound bus station so its quite a bit busier than the almost always closed & empty Lawrence station.  They did have a worker there that you had to show your ticket to before you could sit in the waiting room (this town, like so many cities in our country, has a huge homeless population).  I had a while before I really needed to be waiting (& the train was going to be 10 minutes late), so I went back outside & sat in the sun.

At Noon I boarded the train, this time without needing to ask any questions & found my seat.  I saw the same pretty Northern New Mexico views on my way back as I did coming & slept during the dark views of Kansas.

My trip had been a success!  I would do train travel again.  I’d love to take one of the more scenic trains like along the California coast then up through central CA & into Oregon; or there is one that goes from Glacier NP west.  

Here are a few things that surprised me about the train:

1. The boarding process is super simple…almost in a scary way.  Most of us that have flown a bunch since 9.11 sometimes bitch about the process & wish for a more simple time.  You get simple & easy with train travel.  Which means, there’s probably a lot of stuff riding in passengers bags on the train that wouldn’t be allowed on a plane.  I won’t list the items that went through my head, but I’ll think differently now about the airline security process.

2. The train seats were way more comfortable than I thought they would be. And, there are no seatbelts; no emergency instructions; & the Conductor only walks by once in awhile.

3. The people:  On the way out of Kansas, there were a lot of Amish people riding the train (& they were a laughing group playing a card game with the Conductor for an hour or so); on the way out of NM, there were no Amish people (or that were obvious to me); on the way to NM we had a guy with a mental health issue that talked to himself non-stop…conspiracy theories & religion.  He would laugh out loud for awhile, then punch down towards the floor.  The Conductor walked by those of us sitting by the guy in the Sightseer car & assured us he was harmless…he rides the train frequently.  This is when I thought about the fact that no one checks your bags, there’s no metal detector or anything like that.  But, the guy wasn’t scary or threatening; it was just really sad.  On the way back to Lawrence about midnight, a couple in the Coach car (where our assigned seats are & where we sleep at in Coach class) got into two 20 minute fights cussing each other out.  I never felt threatened by this either…I wasn’t positive there wasn’t going to be real violence, but they would have attacked each other rather than anyone else on the train.  

I didn’t meet anyone on the train that I visited with…I think Covid has killed a lot of that spontaneity between strangers & travelers no matter where you are. While this all may sound negative, it wasn’t.  I would still ride Coach rather than be in a closet sized room excluding myself from the experience.  It’s always good for the heart to sometimes be around others that may not be like you; a reminder that not every has it easy & that some people live their life in a constant state of chaos.

4.  The train stops at about 5 or 6 little towns in Kansas, a couple in Colorado & about 3 in New Mexico.  So, there’s a constant influx & out go of passengers…even in the middle of the night.

5.  When I travel again on the train, I’ll take a small cooler bag & eat differently.  On the way back I made it a goal to not eat from the snack bar & I didn’t.  

It was a short trip & I arrived back at 5:20am to a closed train station in Lawrence with a snow storm happening.  Danny was right there waiting for me & in the meantime, I had turned another year older….Yikes!

Birthday Fun!
So, technically I was done with my traveling part of this trip.  Danny & I got back home through the snow about 6am & both crawled in bed for a couple of hours.  I unpacked in the morning, did my laundry & we enjoyed coffee time together.  Then at noon, he bravely drove us into Kansas City for a day of fun! I had researched some Speak Easys in Kansas City & after lunch at our fave BBQ place & a trip to Andres Bakery for a birthday treat, we went to three different Speak Easys.  I loved it!  Theres some pics on my IG account if youre interested.  

It was really fun to try something new!

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