So this is the second time I took Amtrak down to see Bart and Junior and for the second time in a row, they canceled my train ride going home. Yes, twice in two months. The reason? Track repair. The solution? Well, it wasn't a great solution, but I decided to put up with it anyway to see mostly Junior. I would have had to have had Bart drive me to downtown St. Louis's Amtrak station by 4:45am. Yes. AM. And then I'd board a BUS, not a train, to a train station in Bloomington (I think that's the city). Then we all get off and board a train, when it comes. Then we are taken to Chicago. Then from there mostly just me takes another train to get to Milwaukee. Most stay in Chicago. Then I take my final train to Mid-Wisconsin. I get in at 6:30 unless they are late and they are always late. But I was ok with that. There is no easy way for me to see Bart and Junior unless I drive my old car ten hours and I am the Queen of Getting Lost. So it didn't happen. Never will. And that isn't even the worst part. Here is the worst part. On Tuesday I dutifully caught the right train from mid-Wisconsin to Chicago. It was two hours later than it was supposed to be. It starts in Washington State. So I caught the train at a much later time then was scheduled. This happened last time too so we were alert to watching the schedule. Once I got on, it was ok. I relaxed and took out my kindle to read. Nothing unusual happened until my seatmate, who was also going to St. Louis, called Amtrak to ask when the train was due in to Chicago because the train had fallen behind schedule. We had originally been told that we had a four hour layover in Chicago before the St. Louis train came. It was cut to two hours when the train was late, but I wasn't really worried. Last time, it did get behind and we ended up having to run to catch the St. Louis train, but we made it in time. I figured two hours gave us plenty of time to get there, even if we only had a half an hour, like last time. Meanwhile the woman next to me was getting frantic, telling everyone around us (all headed for St. Louis) that the train was losing time and was scheduled to hit Chicago later and later. I tried to stay calm, but I did have a dilemma. Bart, who is not the most flexible kid I have, was supposed to have to stay up late, and work the next day, after picking me up in St. Louis at 12:30am. Yes. AM. On Tuesday he does not have his son so I picked coming in on a Tuesday because I knew Bart would not want Junior to be awakened in the middle of the night and he did not want Junior to be driving through a very crime riddled neighborbood at 12:30am when all the vampires and witches come out. I understood too. Ok. Coninuing. As we got closer and closer to the Milwaukee station, which is on the way, the hysterical woman beside me, who also had no ride if the train was late and would have been stranded in Chicago, was in tears, telling everyone that the train was now only scheduled to make Chicago by six minutes before seven and that customer relations in Chicago would not hold the train and had no plans for a bus chartered to take us to St. Louis if we missed our connection. But not to worry. They would put us up in a hotel overnight with $10 for food. Um, yeah. I called Bart. He said "there is no way I can take Junior through that neighborhood on Wed. night. It's too dangerous and too late. I'm sorry." Understand this. Bart had no options. His girlfriend was working so he had nobod to watch Junior. He is not social. He does not have friends. He has zero guys he hangs with. So there is nobody. Junior would have to come and it is a dangerous area. Now I have to make a quick decision. Do I continue onto Chicago, where my daughter and her husband live, take a Metro to their house, then stay there until my husband can pick me up? I can't go to St. Louis. Out of the question since the only train on Wednesday leaves at 7:00 pm and Bart has nobody to babysit for Junior to get me at the same 12:30am in High Crime Area St. Louis. So I'm either stranded in Chicago with a surprise visit to Princess until my husband can get me. I could do it, but it would be a few days and I felt as big imposition on them in their little home. Then I call husband and he tells me one of the cars is broken down. YIKES!!!!! Being a mechanic, he will work on it, but he couldn't get me until it's fixed. Jumper would have to drive down in her car to get me from Princesses house and then drive right back. She has work. All in all, it was a shitola option which was not good. Meanwhile sobbing lady beside me calls Amtrak Customer Relations, as she was told to do by another Amtrak phone agent, to find out if the plans changed since by now we were sure we were going to miss our connection. Any bus? I took matters into my own hands, as we sped toward Milwaukee, and climbed down the stairs to find a worker. I actually found one of the conductors and spoke to him and he said, "I promise there will be a bus. This is not right." I asked him if he could actually promise. He said, "Well, I would hope there would be a bus there." He backed off. So I have Customer Relations saying no way a bus and Conductor saying he will make sure there is a bus. By then I was emotionally drained and frightened of being stranded either in Chicago or St. Louis. And since Bart was no help, I just decided "I can't go. I'll go another day. Screw it. I'll get off at the Milwaukee stop where at least my husband can pick me up because it's not THAT far and I can go home. Yes, I will cry because I want to see Junior, but the time is wrong. These all must be signs from my higher power and angels. Don't go now. Maybe St. Louis is going to have mega-storms. GET OFF." In Milwaukee, dragging my luggage, tears in my eyes, I got off with the other Milwaukee station people. The conductor was yelling after me, "You're getting off HERE?" I didn't answer. Tired, I pulled my wheeled luggage into the Amtrak station, but...lo and behold...aha!!!!! I was right in front of a Greyhound station. I had never heard a good word about Greyhound, but I wanted to get to St. Louis so I went up to the empty-of-customer ticket counter and asked, rather timidly, if there was a bus tonight that would get me to St. Louis. There was a bus heading just there...St. Louis...in two hours. I called hub and told him, getting my hopes up but not to high. He told me to get the tickets. Very cheap round trip, by the way. $99.00. I had to use my charge card, which I hated, but I bought the ticket and waited, called Bart, told him I would be there tomorrow at 8:30am. Well, there's a problem. Again. He was leaving for work at 7 and had to lock the door. I'm not sure why he couldn't hav eleft it unlocked f or a few hours. He is in a very low crime area with nice neighbors, but he is rather paranoid at times (part of his anxiety...not making fun of him)...he felt he had to lock the door so again...stalemate. Finally I asked him, if I took a cab (another charge on my card) could he put his key under the mat in front of the house? He was very hesitant to do that because "you never know" and he has an electronic's junkies fantasy house. I waited until he finally siad he would do it. I got off the phone, leaned back, and shut my eyes. I HAD A PLAN. It worked too. I did get there. Greyhound was fine except that I had a seatmate who had boozy smells coming out of his pores, like stale whiskey, but that was ok. I just kept my nose from sniffing...you know how you can do that. Got there on time. Cab was right outside the b uilding. Didn't even have to call one. Expect $100 cab bill. Only had to pay $60. It wasn't half as far a ride as Bart let on, but he doesn't really have much of a sense of direction either, like me. I fumbled for the key under the mat and found it, almost kissed it, and let myself in. I WAS THERE!!!!!!! Wow. I made it. Unreal. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!! So after Greyhound takes me home from my vacation on Sunday, I decide I'll call Amtrak to see if I can get a refund. In the past they had given me one, but I heard they were not doing that so much now (wonder why) and did not really want credit I'd never use, but wanted to report the incident anyway. Monday (today) i called and after waiting for a half hour to get a real person and then being transferred and waiting another fifteen minutes to get a real person I had Costumer Relations. I explained what had happened in a tired voice. He grilled me. "You did know that there was a bus waiting in Chicago, right?" I told him no, I had been told there may or may not be a bus and couldn't risk it as the conductor was saying one thing and Chicago's Amtrak people were saying, no, we were stayiing overnight. I explained why Wednesday would not have worked for me and that is why I had booked for Tuesday. He ignored me and said, "But there was a bus there." I told him I hadn't knwon. He said that they couldn't tell me for sure if they didn't know for sure. I told him that is why I got off at Milwaukee and felt I may need a ride home. Because I didn't want to be stranded in St. Louis. I don't think he really got it. In the end, he gave me...you guessed it...a credit for my next ride on Amtrak. Does anyone want a free ticket from Amtrak? I'm never going to use it. And that concludes my story. Questions you may have and the answers: SWOT, why didn't you fly???? Answer: It was too expensive to fly. Period. SWOT, did you have fun after all that once you got there? Answer: Yes! However, I had no car and in Bart's subdivision there is absolutely no place to walk for a fun time...not even a park. So Junior and I had to create fun things to do at home. A few included a pillow fight, hide the toys, hide and go seek, a cool watergun fight, me trying pathetically to pitch to him while he whacked the ball, a walk around in which we counted all of the dead worms we found and watching a few crazy, funny movies. So, yeah, it was worth it, b ut I have no plans to go back anytime soon. It's just too hard to get there. I love my little man. He is such a tall, handsome boy...so smart with good athletic ability and lots of friends. I will Skype him each time he is with Bart. But I can't do the hard traveling all the time.