Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Henry shares his mother’s affinity for photobooths…
photo credit: Jenny Jimenez
Greetings from Brooklyn! We are settled in at our Airbnb in Prospect Heights and Henry & I are having a quiet night in to recoup from our travels (Todd is at a bachelor party/dinner for our friend who is getting married next weekend, one of the reasons we are in NY).
For starters, we made it! The last leg of the trip was a bit rough - combine 3 days of non-stop travel + a tiny room and you get some grumpy Bermans. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me recap the trip as best I can!
California, Nevada, and Utah
Monday we left Emeryville on the California Zephyr and made our way through Northern California & the Sierras to Nevada and Utah. We had a family bedroom, which was waaaay more spacious than I had expected and afforded us a lot of room to spread out and relax. (The family bedroom sleeps two adults and two children, so it was more than enough room for us.) It was also nice to have a private room that was large enough to hang out in during the trip, instead of having to go to the observation car.
Our sleeping car attendent, Alarick, was great! Super friendly and helpful & I hope we get him again on our way back (although the chances of that are pretty slim, I guess.) One thing I took away from this train trip is that Amtrak employees are generally happy. Or at least they pretend to be. Not like airline employees who are generally crabby. Like, everyone on the train was smiling, happy to help, and actually treated you like a human being!
After our stop in Reno, there weren’t really any big city-ish stop until Salt Lake City - and that was at 3:00am. Totes slept through that! Which was amazing because I did NOT sleep well at all on the train pretty much the whole time. I think the combination of the small space + having Henry in bed with me made me uber-conscious of how I was sleeping, so I kept waking up and had a hard time getting comfortable.
They do give you a lot of pillows though, so there’s that. (I love pillows.)
Anyway, UTAH! I woke up around 5:00am to a view of snow-capped mountains right outside our window. That was pretty cool. I tweeted about how it was like waking up North of the Wall in Game of Thrones. But with less wildings and less undead zombie people, of course. The mountainous part of Utah was very beautiful, I wish we had gone through it at a time of day that was photograph-friendly.
Good morning, bed head!
After Utah we travelled through Colorado and the Rockies and that was insanely picturesque. There are parts of the trip that are only accessible to trains (or if you manage to get a raft and float down the river, I guess), so that was pretty cool.
Colorado wasn’t very kind to our schedule though. Due to thawing and snow melting, there were quite a few rock slides (!) and we had to stop a few times so that they could get the rocks off the tracks and repair the fences on the sides of the train. At the time it was no big deal - we had a 7 hour layover in Chicago coming up so we weren’t in a hurry - but it turned out to be the beginning of a lot of delays.
We ended up pulling into Denver 3 hours behind schedule, so there wasn’t much to see but the lit-up Coors Field (the Rockies were playing, I tried to take a photo of the stadium but they all looked like an ugly blur of lights). Coors Field though, is huuuuuge. It seemed much bigger than AT&T Park, but I am also not very good at judging those sorts of things.
I was hoping we’d make up some time overnight, but that didn’t really happen…
I slept through pretty much all of Nebraska. Sorry, Huskers!
Here is a photo of the Omaha train station:
Iowa and Illinois
Our schedule woes continued into Iowa and Illinois, only this time it was due to flash flooding and getting stuck behind freight trains (commercial train traffic trumps passenger train traffic). It was rainy rainy rainy! At one point Todd said he was looking out the window and wondered “what lake is that?” so he looked it up on his phone and it wasn’t a lake, IT WAS A FIELD. A giant, flooded field. So yeah, rain.
Oh, I forgot to also mention that Wednesday was my birthday! We were supposed to meet up with Devon and family in Chicago for a birthday dinner and celebrations, but the rock slides + weather/freight delays meant we didn’t arrive in Chicago until nearly 8:00pm. We were supposed to get in at 2:50. So, that didn’t happen, which made me suuuuper bummed and I was like “I hate my birthday!” but thankfully Todd and I talked about it and decided to change our return trip to include a stopover in Chicago for the day/night so I could get a do-over. It also magically saved us $100, so hooray for us!
Birthday bathroom selfie. I am 34.
We had to leave the creature comforts of our family bedroom on the California Zephyr and transfer trains in Chicago. There are no family bedrooms on the Lakeshore Limited train, so we had a roomette. It was wee! There was a toilet in our “room”, but honestly I could’ve done without the private toilet (which is not really private when it’s right next to one of the seats in your room, ifyouknowwhati’msayin’) for a little more space. I totally forgot to take any photos of the room because by that time I was a little travel-delirious. I will try to get some on our way back, if we don’t end up upgrading our roommette to a bedroom.
Oh, one nice thing about our Chicago mini-layover is that we had access to the Metropolitan Lounge because we were sleeper car passengers. It’s basically just a nicer waiting area, but believe me, by the time you get there, especially after being delayed for hours and hours, you will take any semblance of luxury you can get! They also allow early boarding in Chicago, and they host a wine and cheese reception (!) in the dining car for sleeper car passengers. I already had my own cheese, crackers, and grapes (they were the only food available by the time I got to the food court) so we had our own cheese reception in our room with Henry and the New York Times Crossword app on my phone.
Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
We slept through most of these states too. Sorry, home state!
I used the term sleep loosely because again, I did not sleep well at all. Because the roommette is small, I have a very tall husband, and I had a 6 month old sleeping in bed with me, H & I ended up sleeping on the top bunk (which was wider, but closer to the ceiling, obvs). It’s a good thing there is a safety harness on the side of the top bunk because my bum was probably in that thing all night!
Henry, of course, slept like a…baby (heh) the whole trip.
The second half of the trip through NY was very beautiful - the Catskills are picturesque and of course made me think about Dirty Dancing (Kellerman’s!).
I was so bad about taking photos on this part of the trip! I promise to do a better job of photo-documentation on the way back.
We arrived in NYC at Penn Station, got our 5000 bags (babies, so much stuff!), hopped in a cab and headed to Brooklyn. As I mentioned earlier, we got an Airbnb for the ~2 weeks we are here and it is great! I will post about that later, as well as some takeaways & tips from the train trip, in another post! I am le tired. Goodnight!
Almost to New York.
Well, technically we’re in New York (Syracuse), but not in NYC yet.
Our connection to the Internets has been spotty at best, so for now I’ll just post photos when I can and will do a recap of our travels later!
Just outside Erie, PA. on Flickr.
Babe on a train.
We be trainin’.
Todd, Henry, & I are on a cross-country train trip to NYC. I KNOW, RIGHT? We just left Reno & our next stop is in 3 hours in Winnemucca, NV. Yeah, I don’t know where that is either.
Some of you may be asking “But, whyyyyy?! It takes so loooong.” I would probably be asking you the same! Well, Todd has an aversion to flying (to put it mildly) and we have a wedding to attend in NYC in two weeks. Todd is actually a groomsmen in said wedding, so we kind of have to be there. We decided to take a few weeks to travel to New York, visit friends & family while we’re there, and make a vacation adventure of it! Hence, the train.
I know some of you are probably curious as to how a nearly four-day train trip is with a 6 month old (or even just with a husband) is, so I’m going to try to blog about the trip as we go - Internets connectivity permitting.
All aboard! Toot toot! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
LA Trip: Part Two
I have about 20 mins in a coffee shop - ALONE (!) - so I will try to hammer this post out! (Update: That didn’t happen. It’s a week later, but I’m finishing it now!)
The second half of our week-long kind-of vacation in LA was much more eventful than the first…
Tuesday - Todd still wasn’t feeling great, so Henry & I took a solo trip to the LACMA to see the Stanley Kubrick exhibit. Lil dude is becoming quite the museum patron! LACMA is beaaaautiful - open air and gorgeous architecture. That’s what you get to do when you have a museum in Southern California I guess.
The Kubrick exhibit was much larger than I expected - the exhibit hall sort of wound around from room to room, movie by movie and it was very…thorough? That sounds so clinical for what I really mean, which is that there was a lot of stuff. (Now that just sounds dumb. Ha!)
Henry was pretty interested in everything, and of course liked looking at all the people too. Near the end of the exhibit he started getting a little antsy (I had him in the wrap), so I kind of had to breeze through the last few rooms (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut) but I did manage to get some good photos. I got over my weird feeling about photographing art exhibits since in my mind this was more like movie props instead of “fine art”. (And please don’t lecture me on what constitutes art, I am not diminishing the artistry of filmmaking, mmkay?)
Tuesday evening we had dinner with our friends Jason & Claire at MessHall in Los Feliz - it used to be the Brown Derby back in the day! I had the fried chicken sandwich and it was delish. Henry fell asleep halfway through dinner. Typical Henry.
Wednesday - Todd had a work meeting, so Henry & I adventured on our own. We went to Griffith Observatory and observed. Great views and the exhibits are definitely good for little kids, not so much infants. But, lil dude was a sport.
We had some time to kill before Todd’s meeting was over so I took Henry to The Grove. Todd’s mom and sister mentioned that it was kid-friendly and nice to walk around, and it was a nice day so I thought - why not! (It’s basically an outdoor shopping mall.)
I would like to note that I did not see a single famous person the whole time I was in LA. Not even at The Grove! There was this dude in Nordstrom who kind of looked like Elvis Costello but I doubt Elvis Costello spends his days walking around the shoe department at Nordstrom. Just sayin’.
Wednesday evening we had Chelsea, Nashie, Elya, and Judd over to our Airbnd for pizza and to watch the Tarheels game.
Thursday - Our good friends Jonathan and Kestrin just had a baby girl about a month and a half ago, and our Airbnb was like five blocks from their house, so we went over to meet little Elektra and to hang out with them for the afternoon. She is adorable and so teeny! When I see newborns now I cannot even believe that Henry was ever that size, and he’s still on the little side!
(J & K are our friends who run a mobile karaoke RV called the RVIP and it is amazing and spectacular. Kestrin also just made a movie called Let’s Ruin It With Babies which is timely!)
We headed back to SF on Friday and managed to leave early enough that we only stopped once. ONCE! What a good little travel companion Henry is – for now at least.
And that was our first official family vacation!
LA Trip: Part One.
We just got back It’s been a few weeks since our trip to LA. Henry’s first road trip! (Actually, his first trip in general, unless you count driving to Target in Colma, or to Alameda, as a trip.)
I actually started writing this when we got back but ummm, I forgot that I even started this post…
So - LA! Todd had a work-related meeting down there (no, we are not moving to LA) and since we hadn’t been to LA in nearly a year, we decided to stay the week and see family and friends, too. Insta-vacation!
We used Airbnb for the first time and I must say it was a great decision: the place we stayed in was in Los Feliz (close to friends & probably the most “us” neighborhood in LA), it was super cute, the perfect size for a week-long stay, and was much more comfortable than a hotel. I knew that we’d need to be flexible with our schedule and activities because of Henry, so having an actual living room to hang out in and kitchen to use was very convenient. Also, Todd got food poisoning (blech!) so he appreciated having somewhere to be miserable that wasn’t a hotel room/bed. Bright side, anyone?
A recap of the first part of our trip:
Saturday - We left relatively early given that we have a 4 month old and have never had to pack our car full of our luggage plus all the stuff that comes with traveling with a kid. Seriously, now I kind of get why people by minivans and SUVs. Kids = stuff. No more getting away with packing both my stuff and Todd’s stuff in a carry on suitcase.
Henry was pretty much a dream on our trip down. We stopped once for lunch (for us and him) and once again right before the Grapevine so he could nurse. He was a little fussy as we climbed up and back down the mountains, but overall was a pleasant little buddy!
We didn’t do anything Saturday night because, well, we were tired from the drive and basically we are lame now.
Sunday - Drove to Encinitas to Todd’s uncle’s house to celebrate his Bubbie’s birthday. This was also the first time we got to meet Elya, our nephew, in person! And the first time Bubbie got to meet Henry, too.
Monday - After two days of driving from SF to LA and from LA to Encinitas and back, we wanted some downtime. Henry & I went to the grocery store and took a long walk around Los Feliz. The sidewalks in LA are not very stroller-friendly – so many cracks and general jacked-up-ness happening!
Henry chillin’ by the pool - vacation face!
Monday evening we had plans to have dinner with Dara, who recently moved back to LA after finishing grad school in SF, but about an hour before dinner Todd started feeling pretty crummy (foreshadowing the aforementioned food poisoning, I will spare you the details) and so Henry & I went to meet up with Dara on our own. Between my having a baby and her finishing grad school, we really didn’t get to see each other much over the past 4 months, so it was great to catch up!
Dara fun fact: She designed the invitations to my baby shower! So talented, that lady.
(Part two on the way!)