Thursday, Jan 28 - Sister Imp drove us to the Kingston, RI Amtrak Station and we began our journey back to Texas. We had never been on a long train trip so this was a new experience for us. The train left right on time and headed north to Providence. The Kingston, RI station is a historic train depot that has been restored back to fantastic turn of the century condition. It was not crowded, and was clean and quiet until a group of not so young ladies showed up on their way to Boston for some type of convention and they talked loud and excitedly about all manner of inane subjects, like the color of their shoes and how much stuff they had packed without regard for anyone around them. I think if they had all pooled their collective intelligence they may have been able to fill the average quohog! The ride was nice up to Provindence, though we did make sure the “girls” were well to the back of the car before Sheila and I selected seats up at the front. After Providence the train headed to Boston and I was expecting to see another nice station. I could not have been more wrong! Instead of going into South Station, the train went into the Back Bay Station. To call this a station is exaggerating to say the least. Although it was large and very busy, it was dirty and not heated and to wait on the track for your next connection meant to wait outside, underground with the trash, graffiti and pigeons! I would not want anyone I cared about to pull into this place after dark and have to guess if they made it onto the next train! We quickly grabbed a tea and coffee from the Dunkin Donuts and walked downstairs to shiver until our train to Albany arrived. It was here that we first noticed a young couple already waiting there with what looked like enough luggage for to send a small expedition overseas! They had suitcases, backpacks, folding camp chairs, guitar cases, duct tapped boxes and oversized duffle bags piled into a small mountain at the bottom of the stairs! I said to them, “I’ll say one thing for you guys…..you travel light!” They both laughed and said they were moving to Montana and had carried all this stuff back to the train station today because they had missed their train yesterday. They had been taking each other’s picture in front of all this gear and as Sheila ran to the ladies room I offered to take their picture together with their camera. The train to Albany finally arrived and Sheila and I hopped aboard. When the conductors stepped out they immediately told the Montana couple that there was no way they were getting on the train with all that stuff! We heard the couple protesting that they thought they could just take it as checked baggage as we took our seats but I could see that they were getting nowhere. As the train pulled away from the station the last we saw of the young Montana couple was her breaking into tears as it sunk in that they were going to be hauling that mountain of belongings away for the second day in a row. I still wonder if they ever got started on their way to Montana. On the way to Albany it started to snow and it kept snowing and snowing! It could not have been in more scenic country as we passed through western Massachusetts’s mountains and river lined valleys the whole country was flocked with white and looked like something you would see on the Orient Express. At times it was pure white out conditions and we could not even see the trees just fifty feet beside the train. What a wonderful way to start a train trip! In Albany we got onto the train that had our first sleeper car that would take us overnight to Chicago. It was nice having our own place to stay on the train and a break from all the chatter of people in coach. It was difficult not to feel a little snobbish as we headed to our own “cabin” toward the front of the train! That evening when we went to the dining car we were seated with another couple. They were amazingly enough were from Jamestown, RI! They told us about their planned train trip and also about their home on the North Shore in Jamestown. He was a retired plumber and when I told them I have a sister in Jamestown, they said if she sees a red Suzuki running around the island it would be them! I then told them about Imp buying Sheila’s red Miata and told them they WILL see it all over the island with a blonde and a pit-bull in it! (So make sure you wave to any passing red Suzuki Imp!) It snowed all through the night and when we woke and tried to guess what town we were passing through everything was covered in new snow and the streets were all deserted. Late that night I went looking for a bathroom not wanting to used the toilet right beside the bed, I passed from one darkened car to another and another the snow was drifted a foot deep in the outside section coupling the cars together. The train was dark with no one around and I passed through deserted dining and lounge cars, through empty coach class cars wondering where everybody was, it reminded me of the movie Runaway Train! Needless to say we did not get much sleep, both due to the colds we now have and the fact that we didn’t want to miss any of the train trip.