This last weekend I took the LSL to Cleveland to spend Saturday visiting with a rail fan buddy. On Friday, I arrived at the metropolitan lounge after a hectic day at work at around 7 p.m. As is my usual experience, the 8 p.m. boarding time passed and we waited in the lounge until about 9:15. The boarding was announced, and we made our way down to the train. I was in the 4811 car so I enjoyed the short walk. The door was not open, and initially, I was annoyed. However by the time I walked up to the the 4810 car, boarded, and walked back to the 4811 car, the attendant was at the door opening the trap to board passengers. I showed her my ticket, she collected, and apologized about not having the door open. I settled into my room, and she came by and checked in with me. She admired my Kindle, invited me to attend the wine tasting, and when I asked to have the bed made, she promptly did this. Her name was cocoa. An interesting name to say the least, and looks to match. Most importantly, she provided excellent service in making the bed promptly and waking me up 30 minutes before Cleveland. Though I set my alarm as a back up, she did everything that was required, and did it with a pleasant, mystical smile. A vast improvement over some of the cretins that used to work the LSL.
I had a reservation at the Marriott Key center for Saturday night, and was hoping for an early check in at 6 a.m. I know I had know right to expect this. However, the person who answered the phone curtly told me to call back after 8 a.m. I thanked her and called the Renaissance. They had plenty of rooms and said early check in was possible. I canceled the key center and rebooked at the same rate. Additionally, when I checked in, I was given a coupon for a free breakfast, an unexpected perk for a silver member.
I napped for couple of hours, ate my free breakfast, which would have cost 18 dollars for the buffet, and met my buddy. We rode one of the light rail lines, had lunch and then rode the red line to the airport. We had dinner, and I returned to the hotel about 8 p.m. I slept fitfully, worrying about getting a cab and getting to the train station in time for the 3:45 a.m. departure of 49. At 2 a.m., I woke up, showered and checked out at 2:30 a.m. A cab came within a few minutes, and I was sitting in the station by 2:50 a.m. I had been checking train status and 49 was expected at 3:40 a few minutes late. I had been running 40 minutes late. It eventually arrived about 4:30 a.m. I boarded the 4910 car. The attendant for the other sleeper was at the door, explaining the other attendant was on break. The bed was made, and I settled in for a couple of hours of sleep.
At 6:00 a.m I got up and ate breakfast in the diner. The service was prompt with several cups of coffee. Other members of the crew sat nearby, and socialized, but the waiter remained focused on providing good service. Again an improvement. I returned to my room, and napped for another hour. When I got up, Maria made the bed, and left a christmas card in the room. IMHO, this was a nice personal touch. It is nice to see employees who take pride in their jobs.
The rest of the morning was spent looking at the window and reading as we passed Elkhart and South Bend, which was under a winter storm warning for lake effect snow. We passed through areas of heavy snow which did not appear to affect the train. I know driving would have been a hassled.
We arrived Chicago 45 minutes late.
I have driven to Cleveland, and now taken the train. The train is more expensive, at about 350 rt in a sleeper, but it was relaxing. The arrival and departure times do disrupt sleep patterns. Having early check in made this trip much more pleasant. Not getting a room early would have been uncomfortable. However, driving leaves me tired too. So I think it is an even trade off. One nice thing about the train is that I returned to Chicago at 11 a.m. and still had time to eat lunch with my father, and see a movie with my girl frield. If I have a choice, I would do the train again.