Sleepless Seated Sightseeing

Today’s guest post comes from Edith.

Recently I took a long trip, and was very lucky to have window seats the entire 3 days and 3 nights.

I boarded Amtrak late at night in Kansas City, MO, “slept” through most of Kansas, and woke up to a red sun rising over the prairie behind us.

NM_train9 (1)

During the first day the train went through New Mexico. I never had been to that area before, so was fascinated by the scenery: shrubby trees, hills, some mountains. Lots of browns, but other colors, too.

When I woke the next morning we were running about 1 ½ hours late, but somehow, by 8:30, we had made up 1 ¼ hours of that. The train arrived almost on time in Los Angeles. A good thing for me since there were only 2 hours between our scheduled arrival and the departure of my next train.
Wow, the train depot at L.A. was something else! Huge! Busy! Full of people hustling and bustling around, and all of them knew where they were going; I was the only one who wandered around in circles before I figured out the gate where I was to board my next next train, the once-daily Coast Starlight.

Then I went to the waiting area – to wait, of course. But I got restless. When I noticed people coming in some side doors. I got up to investigate and found a charming courtyard. Trees. Birds singing. Benches. A fountain. Tile work. Grass. Blue Skies. Very refreshing.

The Coast Starlight was pretty full, so I had a seatmate. She spent a lot of time in the observation car. No need for me to do that – not only did I have a window seat, it was on the ocean side.

But we sat in the same spot for a long time while the train was stopped because of a gas leak somewhere near the tracks up ahead. I had a great view of a parking lot and some empty tennis courts.

Lovely.

After 4 hours, we were able to move on.

Lucky me! The train goes very close to the ocean, in spots, so I had great view after great view.
Very cool!

The problem with the train being late was we no longer had any stops where we could get out and stretch.

Uffda, my legs ached from sitting. Even after we left the coast, the scenery in northern California and Oregon was lovely, but i had trouble appreciating it.

My trip_CA17

Finally, after what seemed like an endless time of trying, never very successfully, to sleep in a train seat and wanting to do anything but sit still another hour, I arrived in Portland.

I wanted only to take a shower, sleep in a real bed, and look forward to a day with fellow baboon Steve. Still, despite all the discomfort I had endured, I felt lucky that I was able to see so many beautiful sights from the train window.

How long can you stand to sit?

37 thoughts on “Sleepless Seated Sightseeing”

  1. What a wonderful trip, ljb! Really makes me want to take the train someplace. Back when I did that a lot, I was an observation car person.

    As for sitting, I can make it through a good movie, no problem. When I am sitting at a desk, I have to get up at least once an hour. I’ve spent most of my working life on my feet, so sitting for extended periods of time gets painful fast.

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    1. You might want to re-think taking the train if you can’t sit for a long time, mig. Unless you have a sleeper car ($$$$$), you have to sleep while sitting, so it’s just Too Much Sitting. My entire body was in pain by the time I got to Portland, mostly my knees and my right shoulder (I tried to sleep lying down for a few hours my last night and just about killed my shoulder). But a shorter train trip or a sleeper car could solve those problems.

      I would have been in the observation car more myself – but it was usually so full I couldn’t find a seat!

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      1. Well, nice thing about the train is you can get up and walk about. One of many reasons I hate flying is you really are stuck.

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  2. Wonderful. Happy for you.
    Right now can’t stand anything. Severe cramping all night. Exhausted in wracking pain.

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    1. Sorry to hear that, Clyde. I have constant, daily pain, but it’s more the nuisance kind, just reminding me I’m getting old. Best wishes for you to get some relief. (Can medical marijuana arrive too soon in MN to help those for whom traditional pain relief doesn’t work?)

      Chris in Owatonna

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sorry to hear about your pain, Clyde. That’s easy to say, I know, but I really am sorry. I wish there was something we could do to help.

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  3. I can stand sitting less and less each year. Even after a few minutes, my low back reminds me that it doesn’t like sitting, but I can get engrossed in work and make it up to two hours before realizing my ass is falling asleep. **:-O** Can I say “ass” on the TB Blog??

    Chris in Owatonna

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  4. Morning all. Excellent story Edith – nice to see the pictures too.

    Sitting isn’t my issue – it’s the new “sitting will kill you” world that’s getting to me. Our office got updated about 2 months ago and now we desks that rise up (electronically) if we want them to. I’m trying to get in the spirit of things, only my back isn’t crazy about all the standing (yes, I got a very nice gel mat). And more to my amazement, I find that I can’t concentrate as well standing up, because part of my brain is always thinking about the fact that I’m standing up. Weird.

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    1. Like you, vs, I have more trouble standing than sitting. One reason why I enjoy going to large parties where it’s expected you’ll stand around, wine glass in hand, chatting all night. Just can’t do it.

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      1. You’re not expected to hold the glass expected to empty the glass that makes it easier to stay and walk around and mingle for extended periods

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    2. maybe you need to alternate standing and sitting. my back can start to ache a lot if i stand still, but if i move around a bit, it’s not as bad.

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  5. Lovey post, Edith. I have had a flare-up of sciatica after a quick trip to Fargo a week ago that involved lots of sitting. We left Sunday, drove 4 1/2 hours, and returned Monday, driving another 4 1/2 hours. In between we attended the Concordia Oratorio concert, sitting in hard auditorium chairs through the Brahams Alto Rhapsody, Dvorak Te Deum, and some other choral work by Brahms and one of Brahms’ Slavonic Dances. All were beautiful, but sitting is not good for sciatica.

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      1. It’s true there was some editing, but the story and the photos are all original Edith. I just trimmed a bit. Thanks for taking us on your trip, jailbird. No wonder the seat was so uncomfortable – too much company!

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  6. I’m glad your Amtrak experience was as good as it was, ljb, for increasingly air travel is becoming an demeaning and unpleasant experience for travelers. It is so nice to think we can still travel in ways that let us enjoy local landscapes. And how clever of you to sleep through Kansas!

    I hope to never fly again. Ever. The people who manage airline travel these days have made the whole experience so degrading that I wouldn’t want to endorse their decisions by signing up for new flights. Curiously, the airlines haven’t noticed that I am boycotting them. They keep right on keeping on, damn their eyes.

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    1. Yes, I thought boarding the train at 10:45 pm, right before it got to Kansas, was a good move. There’s only so much Kansas scenery I can take.

      And, isn’t it annoying that when you’ve taken the trouble to boycott something, the boycotted entity doesn’t even notice? I boycott Black Friday, but the merchants keep right on doing ridiculous things to keep people coming at ridiculous times of the day or night. Of course, I didn’t go shopping on black friday even before it became such a Big Deal, so I guess my boycott is meaningless.

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  7. Nice blog, ljb. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Am a little disappointed that you didn’t give us a report on your visit with Steve, however. While speaking of Steve, his cute little hobbit house has been torn down. 😦
    Drove by on Wednesday, and all that was left was a gaping whole in the ground.

    How long I can sit depends on the seat. I have no trouble on airplanes, but some theater seats are awful and result in terrible leg cramps.

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    1. My Day in Portland will be another day’s post. I’m hoping for enough inspiration that Dale doesn’t have to edit quite so heavily this time.

      And — what???? Steve’s house has been torn down? That is so wrong. It was a lovely house.

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  8. Four hours. I am rehearsing sitting for the four days of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2016. I’m saving up the money and the patience to love every minute of Bayreuth.

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  9. Personally, I’m just delighted that my brother has a visitor from home. I just wish I could visit, too. Maybe someday. I bonded with that little boy, Liam, in record time.

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  10. Thanks for telling us about your trip, littlejailbird. Sounds like a great trip. I took a trip by train to Churchill on Hudson Bay in Canada. It was a long trip. However, we had sleeping accommodations on the train so part of trip was spent in bed.

    I think I would have trouble spending long hours in a train seat. I have taken some long trips by plane and was very glad when they ended. I really hate sitting for long periods of time in plane seats. The worst was a very new and modern Dutch airline where everything was good except the seats that were more closely spaced than any others I have had the “pleasure” of using.

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    1. I started and ended my 2-week trip with a plane ride (first to Kansas City, then from Seattle to Mpls. Those were fairly short plane trips, but they were long enough for me. I definitely found out on this trip that my body is happier when not forced to sit all the time – and when I can lie down to sleep.

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      1. To lie down to sleep is essential for me, just can’t sleep sitting up. Never sleep on transcontinental flights, just can’t do it. Not even on very long flights.

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  11. I can sit for long stretches, but I know I will pay for it later with achy joints, so I make it a point to work in plenty of physical activity every day. Hard to do when traveling. Car trips are nice, though – you can park the car and walk around any time you please. Air travel is the worst.

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    1. when the train was traveling by the ocean, i just put the camera right against the window and snapped pictures – not continuously, but very frequently!

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  12. ive always enjyed travel, air plane and train. sitting is part of the deal. imagine traveling to mars for 4 years or whatever it is. you just need to get up and stretch. i found a chiropractor made my car trips tochicago tolerable years ago. i used to sit and by the time i got tocicago i was toast. exhausted from having to sit for extended hours then i got cracked and found out it was magic. i could do it. i always stop for gas at a place i can get up and stretch for a bit. on train rides i am a socialite and get up to walk around and check out the surrounding area. if the club car is packed i may stay put to save the seat but more often than not its possible to wander up and down the aisles and stretch. on planes i move quite a bit. i used to think msp to lax or vegas was long trip but after 24 hour trips to china evern a 8-10 hour trip to europe is a cakewalk. it does take a marathon kind of mentality. you get prepared with books a laptop a mission to write or become a taksmaster to get the job at hand done. i remember one trip to somewhere i was ont he plane and just wanted to get a buzz going to get some sleep and ordered a couple little bottles of bailys for my coffee and a couple bottles of cognac to wash em doen. the flight attendandt asked me if i was trying to self medicate. huh? are you trying to go to sleep by self medicating? i had to laugh. yep thats what i was shooting for. i spent the 70’s self medicating and ate a lot of pretzels while doing it. ive done trains in europe and china more than in the us and have enjoyed the heck out of it. sleeping sitting up is no sweat for me. im able to talk myself into it. i love being able to sit and enjoy the scenery buy often on the train you get those weird gardens along the tracks on the outskirts of towns for miles and miles and then whammo you are in the backside of town wher the buildings are run down because they are along the tracks and the city beyond reamins a mystery until you pull into the station. in the big cities the station is so telling in the smaller ones a telling illustration of the place it plays in the lives of the community.
    edith i commend you for taking the trip . it took some hutzbah to gather yourself up and hit the road. you did good getting the window seat and having a seatmate that hangs out in the clubcar is a plus. i was taught to be a space pig and spread my stuff out all over the train car/ plane seats to get dibs on the adjoining space. if your books computer and body are taking up the adjoing three seats it discourages the folks looking for more comfortable accomadations to go elsewhere. once everyone gets settled in then youcan sit up and organize but departures on a long trip are dibsing time.
    there are stretching techniques that are helpful for travel that i need to employ in order to get throught but i am road warrior and enjoy the challange of travel and on to the mission i am headed off to partake in.
    kinda like life. its a bitch, it hurts if you do it too long but the choice is to do it the best you can or die trying. my mood is driven by the attitude i decide to take. headphones and a laptop is focus mode. magazines and a bottle of something was always a chatty mode and hanging out in the travel waysides is an interesting part of the deal. moving is so much better than waiting to get moving but airport/ train stations are some of the best people watching in the world.
    thanks edith for the window seat to your trip. it looks wonderful and i am looking forward to the steve report. coming soon to a blog near you.

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    1. you’re amazing, tim. and about the window seat – everybody had assigned seats, so getting a window seat on both trains was very lucky for me. and i had no choice about getting a seatmate or not – on the first train, i was alone, but i had two different seatmates on the second train.

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