Free and Discount Tips: Try to catch a ride via craiglist or friends to Chemult to save $25 shuttle fee, Dawson Lodge offers free internet and tea and inexpensive hot case dinner at the next door grocery, bring your own tea bags because hot water will be available on the train and most establishments along the way, if you don’t have a printer or a smart phone you can show your itinerary to board from your lap top, use an AAA membership for a discounted train ticket, total ticket cost Bend-Sacramento return with no shuttle form Chemult: $110. Also, anytime you sleep on your transport it saves you paying a nights accommodation.
Yesterday morning my adventure to California via Amtrak started with a free ride to Chemult! Lucky me my good friend Heather was on her way to San Francisco and dropped me at the Dawson Inn, a quaint local accommodation frequented by mushroom pickers, snowmobilers, and stop overs to or from Crater Lake. Positioned a few 100 feet in front of the station it is a great location to hang tight especially if you are carrying a few bags. As my dad always says: Beggars can’t be choosers and since I had begged this ride I was subject to the mercy of someone else’s schedule. Now, for some, this might have been incredibly inconvenient, for me, I called Dawson’s in advance and asked the owner Colleen if I could hangout for 8 hours in their lobby and wait for my train. Surprisingly they happily offered me refuge including access to all the tea (or coffee) I could stomach and FREE INTERNET. If you have ever been a dirt bag traveler (these adjectives describe me to a T), than you know how highly coveted free internet is. I took the opportunity to re-structure my blog and research an alternative game plan for the California adventure in light of the Yosemite wild fires.
An hour before my train was set to depart I mosied over to the grocery, which Colleen also owned. I was persuaded to purchase a tamale from the hot case by an infectiously enthusiastic woman behind the counter. This tamale evoked mixed emotions. Though I was ecstatic there was a gluten free hot case item to indulge in, the excitement was tempered with a fear of the “hot case shits”. Maybe you have hear of these before? When you eat food from a hot case and then the worst happens on the other end… As per usual, through the overcast of my fears, a down pour never came to pass and I was left with the satisfaction that only comes with a $5 greasy gluten free meal.
When the clock read a half hour till train departure I headed for the platform. Here I met a lonely fate, not a sole in site. The station was so deserted my only company lay in the faint changing colors of the twilight sky. My only redemption, wondering if I had the right day and time for the departure, came when the shuttle (bringing patrons from Bend) finally arrived at 10 minutes till rendezvous. With each minute an additional person would arrive until we were a party of five. After all, the train ended up being about a half hour late.
The online directions for demonstrating reservations to conductors offer a print itinerary option or showing the paper work via your smart phone. Well, as a dirt bag, I don’t have easy access to a printer and I have a very stupid (not smart) phone so those options were out. I decided to take my chances, down load the PDF on to my “lap phone” (I started calling my laptop-netbook my “lap phone” when for a recent two year stent, because I didn’t own a phone, I made all calls on it from skype- clever I know), and prove that I had the smartest phone of all! The conductor took the proof of purchase with no drama, fewww.
On a side note: When I purchased my train ticket over the phone I told the operator I had a AAA card to get a $15 discount. When she asked for the numbers on my card I googled “what an AAA card looks like” and recited the numbers off an example card to the operator. Ethical- not sure. Practical, absolutely.
The train was incredibly comfortable. I popped a nytqil and passed out for the 10 hour ride. As the Aussie’s say, EASY AS. Just remember to bring your sleeping bag so you can get really comfy.