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Morning in Reno
Early in the morning here in Reno. Skies seem somewhat clear (though still nighttime). I called Amtrak’s 800-USA-RAIL for more information about our fate, since that was one of the recommendations from last night’s customer agent on the phone. The first agent I reached on the phone this morning informed me that there were “no buses and no trains going anywhere” and suggested calling the Reno station (they’ll open at 8:15, another 3 hours away) to find out more.
I called the 800 number again a few minutes later to check and see the progress of the next #5 (California Zephyr) train out of Chicago, the one running a day behind us. This agent (Kathleen) was much more helpful and sympathetic to my tale of being stranded “by the grace of God and Amtrak.” She found in her computer (i.e. actually looked, which appears to be more than the former agent did) a note that confirmed that yes, indeed, a bus would be in front of our hotel at 9:45 this morning. She theorized that this bus would be taking us to the Reno station where we’d be meeting the next #5, due in today (running a couple hours late currently), but it wasn’t clear in her notes if there were a block of seats on the new #5 for us or what.
A shuttle bus to aid the weary travelers in getting from the Reno station to the hotel would have been extremely helpful for us last night, when all passengers and crew had to walk the four blocks — two of the blocks were unplowed and unshoveled, so we were trudging through 1 – 2 feet of snow — dragging all our checked and carryon luggage ourselves to the hotel. A couple cabs started relaying people, especially the elderly and disabled passengers (I discovered a lady in a wheelchair still sitting at the Reno station when I went back to help, some 2 hours after they had annulled our trip, just waiting to see how she would get to the hotel with her luggage. Fortunately a cab showed up and we helped her down the snowy ramp into the cab. It’s a wonder I didn’t see more exhausted passengers face-down in the snow.) I did note that some of the very first people in line at the hotel registration desk last night were Amtrak crew members, I think from the kitchen staff. I did encounter one of the sleeping car attendants coming back to check on the passengers straggling through the snow, and that was good to see — I do hope that other Amtrak crew members had gone back to help those less able to travel in these conditions while I was in line. I really do hope that. Surely there weren’t only two of us (and one of us doesn’t work for Amtrak) that went back to help. I’ll be calling the Amtrak customer service department on Monday to document this experience.
Anyway, I got back to the hotel last night around 11 pm PT, wandered around the casino for about 4 minutes (I allowed myself 3 dollars to spend on the slot machines, and it took 2 minutes to get rid of that), picked up a hot dog from the restaurant, and retreated to my 8th floor room. I got up at 5 am PT and began calling Amtrak. Now I think I’ll nap a little bit before preparing to meet the bus and perhaps even glean more information. Still having a good time, though, but I’m goofy that way .