Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Plains, trains and buses
My Dad has been asking when I'm heading out to see him in Palm Springs, California but I absolutely refuse to fly since 9/11, given the new Federally mandated annoyance shakedowns.
Heck, I haven't liked flying since Congress deregulated the airlines.
“So why not a train?” asks Dad. “Or the bus?”
So I check Grey Hound. Never mind the fact that it'll take nearly three days to cross the country from Delray Beach to Palm Springs, and never mind the (and I don't really like saying this, but … ) class of people I'll be stuck with for said three days, and never mind the two transfers I'll have to do (only one layover with air travel) but it costs a freaking $338.00 round trip!
I don't think I've paid that much flying to Palm Springs.
So much for the bus. That still leaves the train option.
The only trains I've been on, besides subways (in New York, Boston and Washington, DC) is the local Tri-Rail; taking the train as a serious alternative to the airlines isn't something I've thought of before. So off to the Amtrak site to do some research.
I have to say that the Amtrak site is annoying to use. The airline reservation systems all allow you to input either airport codes or cities; the Amtrak site you need the train station code, which you have to look up manually. Bad design there.
Okay, there's a station in Deerfield Beach (if it's the one I'm thinking of, it's only about four miles away), and there's one in Palm Springs. So far, so good.
Only there isn't a train between the two.
Looks like I'm going to have to split this up into several legs here. Atlanta is a pretty big hub for airline travel in the US, so let's see if I can get there from here.
The good news: There is one; the bad news—Atlanta doesn't seem to be a hub for Amtrak. I'd have to travel through Washington, DC on my way to Atlanta. A thousand miles north to come back 500 miles south across two days of travel.
Okay, so now that I've figured out that Washington, DC is the hub, and I know I can get there from here, let's see if I can get to Palm Springs, California from there.
Amtrak does not make this easy.
So poking around I do see there is a train from Orlando, FL to Los Angeles, CA (with a stop over in or near Palm Springs), which means I get to stop over in such lovely places as Pascagoula, MS and Lordsburg, NM. All in all, 35 stops between Orlando (leaving at 1:45 pm) and Palm Springs (arriving at 3:23 am), taking three days (leave on a Sunday, arrive Wednesday). For someone who liked travelling, this might be fun.
To me, it sounds like pure torture, even if it is cheaper (at $218.70) than the bus.
Then again, Dad could always come out here …
Update, a few minutes later …
Forget the Amtrak links—they're hopelessly broken and when they aren't broken, they're hopelessly useless.
Good Lord just how bad can that site get? Geeeze!