Welcome to the UltraEscape

No home, no car, no worries. On the road since 1996, a TechNomad couple share their travel secrets and adventures.

The Texas Eagle

Ugh, the cell phone alarm just chimed. It’s 5 am in San Antonio, Texas. Time to grind the coffee beans and select what I need from my suitcase. This morning is rare. We seldom wake up before sunrise but today we have a 7 AM train to catch.

Yesterday, we struggled to stuff our sleeping bags, tent, grill, and other assorted camping items into two additional suitcases. Our daughter has been storing these items in her attic since the first of the year.

We also will have an additional carry on item – one of those picnic backpacks with our wine glasses, cheese board and place settings for four plus tablecloth and special spices for outdoor cooking. (More about our camping plans later).

We carefully checked the weight of each bag by standing on a bathroom scale and holding the bag. The magic number is 50 lbs. It is oh so embarrassing to have to repack at the baggage check in counter in order to conform to the baggage weight limits!

So, what do we have? Two suitcases with clothes and two suitcases containing camping gear to check, one picnic backpack, one computer bag, one printer bag, one snack bag, my handbag and two stadium blankets to carry on. Included in the carry on bags are our toilet items, a change of clothes, books, crossword puzzles and cards.

While I sipped my coffee and finished dressing the guys loaded up the pickup for the short trip to the station. We arrived at the appointed hour, unloaded the luggage, picked up our tickets, checked four of the bags and then waited to board the Texas Eagle bound for Chicago.

The city of San Antonio is served by a limited facility station with a ticket counter, baggage check in, vending machines, coffee, restrooms and a small waiting area. When boarding was announced we proceeded outside. The temperature was just right as we stood waiting for the conductor to collect our tickets and assign our coach seats.

I held my breath as I watched the luggage being transported to the baggage car via two long wooden trailers attached to a small tractor. One large black suitcase teetered precariously among the assorted bags, boxes and containers threatening to escape as it bumped along the track on its short journey. I prayed it wasn’t one of ours!

And then it was time to go. The conductor, dressed in his white shirt, blue coat and standard flat-billed hat collected the coach tickets, issued orange seating tags and called “all aboard”.

We were second to board the super liner car and proceed up the stairs, as directed. The coach was empty so we selected our seats, stored our carry on bags in the overhead storage area, slipped the seating tags under the metal band with the seat numbers to reserve our seats and settled in.

There was no need to search for a seat that had access to an electric plug as this car has one for seat. Yes, we can use the computer and charge the phones. Next we checked the overhead lights. Occasionally, the lights don’t function and I like to read. With all those items addressed it’s time to settle in and enjoy the trip. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise as we departed the station aboard the Texas Eagle bound for Chicago.

Oops. We neglected to test the foot/leg rests under our seats. Much to our dismay we discovered one of them would not stay in position making sleep difficult that evening. We learn something new each time we travel by train.