Round trip Dwight - Kansas City on Lincoln Service/Missouri River Runner

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Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
974
Location
Dwight, IL
The hubby and I will be boarding 319 (the daily southbound Lincoln Service train which becomes the westbound Missouri River Runner at St. Louis) this morning, but starting from our hometown of Dwight, IL, rather than Chicago (where a thread on this same route last month started from). I redeemed AGR points to book Business Class seats for today's trip and Coach seats for the return trip tomorrow. I plan to bring along a device (either my phone or an Amazon Fire tablet) which can access the AU forums, so that I can provide trip report updates live or near-live. This will be our first ride on Amtrak since we were both in graduate school back in the 1980s, so I'm both excited and not worried, but stressing over every last detail.

Logged into AU forums on phone, so won't have to pack a tablet beyond the e-reader I've already packed. Might add a few non-crushable snacks, but otherwise everything is packed and ready to go with us on the trip.
 
Just boarded in Dwight, 20 minutes late. No 2 seats together in Business class initially, but my seatmate is departing at Bloomington, so the hubby can join me at that point. Just about to Pontiac already. The cafe area is on the other side of a curtain from our seats.

Just now arriving at Pontiac at 11:45am. Brought the hubby one of the water bottles we had brought with us, and opened the other one so I could take some Tylenol for a sinus headache. (Should have taken something stronger before I left the house!)
 
The Tylenol finally kicked in by the time we arrived in Bloomington. Several people got out, including 1 from Chicago Public schools, and some from Illinois State University. Hubby joined me in our pair of seats, and I then fetched lunch from the cafe counter. No soup 🍲! :( Hubby had a turkey sandwich combo, and I had the hot dog 🌭 combo. The payment gadget was about the same size as my phone, but used physical buttons the attendant had to explain to me.
The Lincoln station was in a pretty older building, but no one got on or off there. Some departures at Springfield; I don't expect more until St Louis.
 
Feels like the train picked up speed South of Springfield; a lot more rocking felt. Finally put the footrest in the seat back to good use, and moved my backpack between our pair of seats. The hubby has been dozing since before we got to Springfield, although he does rouse when stops are announced. Just now arriving in Alton, the last stop in Illinois.

Spotted the Arch just a few minutes ago. Arriving in St Louis nearly on time, so we did make up most of the delay once we were south of Springfield. Automated message said this was last stop, but it is just a fresh air break. Might use the restroom at least. Departure time will be 3:11pm.
 
Departure from St Louis at 3:11pm as previously announced. And on time! Will probably wait until 4pm or so to think about supper from the cafe - and learn how extensive the "free drinks in Business class" policy is on this train. Only one other person in Business class right now, other than the hubby.

We appear to be at the first stop after St Louis; however, there was no automated message announcing it. Great Harvest Bread Company advertising "fresh hot bread" ; sounds yummy!
 
We appear to be at the first stop after St Louis; however, there was no automated message announcing it. Great Harvest Bread Company advertising "fresh hot bread" ; sounds yummy!
Two tunnels between Kirkwood and Washington MO. We may be literally "running" alongside the Missouri River, which was clearly visible from the Washington station. About to go fetch supper from the cafe.

Found out there are actually 3 people besides us, not just 1, when I went to the cafe to get supper. Also learned that we only get 1 free drink each in Business class on this train. Hubby had the hot dog 🌭 combo this time, and I tried the blue corn tamale - a little messy to eat at a tray table, but quite tasty, and not as spicy as I had feared it would be.
Finished supper shortly before arriving at Hermann at about 4:45pm, at least 6 minutes late. Not as delayed as we were, though, and Amtrak 's train status is currently predicting on-time arrival in Kansas City.
 
Just departed Jefferson City, on time or very nearly so. Crossed the Missouri River multiple times after Hermann, so it was sometimes on the north side of the tracks, sometimes on the south, and sometimes nowhere to be seen.
Started crocheting a granny square at about 5pm; hope I can finish it before arriving in Kansas City. Brought plenty of yarn for more squares tomorrow!

Departure from St Louis at 3:11pm as previously announced. And on time! Will probably wait until 4pm or so to think about supper from the cafe - and learn how extensive the "free drinks in Business class" policy is on this train. Only one other person in Business class right now, other than the hubby.
 
Stopped on the tracks just east of Sedalia; not quite sure why. Needed to rest my hands from the crocheting, so read a book on my e-reader for a while. Sounds like we're going to be a few minutes late arriving at Sedalia. Conductor just announced that "we're waiting on an Amtrak train." Maybe it's a freight train instead?

No, it actually was an Amtrak train, which just zoomed by. Moving again now. The passing train was the 316 Missouri River Runner eastbound, over 45 minutes late to its next stop . Just arrived in Sedalia, at about 6:55pm, not quite 15 minutes late.

The conductor just announced that we're almost to Warrensburg, and that we will arrive at Lee's Summit in 45 minutes. Very quick stop at Warrensburg, and we are on our way again. Running 15 minutes late currently.

Just left Lee's Summit, running 21 minutes late. Exchanging Facebook messages with my sister about our mom. So tired!

Left Independence 21 minutes late. If I fall asleep once I 'm in the hotel room, I will update again tomorrow. Good night!
 
We were both very tired and cranky by the time we arrived in Kansas City last night. The hubby kept asking me to slow down on the skywalk into the station, but then wouldn't stop inside the station so I could ask directions to the free trolley! We had to reenter the station and ask directions at the Amtrak ticket counter. We did reach the hotel safely after that, and both apologized for our ill tempers.
Breakfast at the hotel this morning was pretty good, although not quite as extensive as those at other Hilton related properties we've stayed at. Packed up and checked out afterwards, and walked a block to the trolley stop. Currently sitting in the small Amtrak waiting room at Kansas City Union station, waiting for the eastbound Missouri River Runner (train 318) to be called for boarding.

One passenger with a service animal was allowed to board early; the rest of us headed for the platform starting at 8:15am. There were a few stragglers still boarding at 8:35am. On-time departure at 8:40am.
Coach class is much more cramped than Business class, especially since we are not in one of the new Venture coaches. No footrest on the seat backs, and narrower seats to fit the 2x2 configuration. Business class is totally worth it for the extra comfort on longer regional rides, and we will NOT be booking Coach seats on any future trips! (And not enough room to use the tray table in front of one's seat comfortably, so we will eat lunch at a table in the cafe car, if possible.)
Just left Independence, which has a nice red-brick station we weren't able to see last night. 1 minute early arrival!

The Lee's Summit station is apparently an older brick building, with the elevation above sea level showing on the station sign. The local Chamber of Commerce shares the building with the station. 4 minutes late departure, probably due to a freight train which passed us shortly after leaving Independence.

The restrooms in both Coach and Business class appear to have the "dump on the tracks" type toilets. The water in the Coach restroom sink sprays a lot when it comes out, and isn't well suited to refilling one's water bottles on the cheap. (I tried!)
 
9 minutes late arriving at Warrensburg. The hubby wanted to bring the Funyuns we had picked up at the hotel front desk last night into the cafe car when we eat lunch, but that's against the rules. They're still good to eat at our seats, though!

Waited on another freight train to pass us west of Sedalia. Had an earlier than planned lunch, so we could stretch our legs and get the kinks out of our knees. We both had burgers, which were about what one might expect from nuked burgers. (White Castle burgers seem to hold up better when nuked.) Hubby was tired of plain potato chips, and ate my Doritos instead. A young lady across from us was having a loud and somewhat vulgar conversation on her phone, occasionally singing off-key as well. Brought the leftover chips and water bottles back to our seats.
24 minutes late departing Sedalia, while we were eating lunch. Looks like they're hoping to make up some of that time before we reach Jefferson City.

Only 6 minutes late departing Jefferson City. Some of the new passengers are going to Illinois too, although to other towns.
 
The disabled passenger with the service dog is a Marine veteran. When a couple of bags fell out of the luggage rack in the front of the car, near his seat, he got up and put them back, despite his mobility issues. (I had wanted to do that myself, but the hubby talked me out of it.)

About 15 minutes late arriving at Hermann. Rain ☔ had been predicted for central Missouri in this morning's weather forecast, and we finally found it here. Just a few more stops until we cross the Illinois border.

17 minutes late arriving at Washington, and still raining. NWS alert on everyone's phones, but it's only a test. Thinking about what to eat at supper when we return to Dwight. The hubby at first requested DQ, but now wants pizza. No more cafe car chips for us!

13 minutes late arriving at Kirkwood, but at least it stopped raining. Several people got out. Conductor announced that we would be in St Louis in 20 minutes.
 
13 minutes late arriving at Kirkwood, but at least it stopped raining. Several people got out. Conductor announced that we would be in St Louis in 20 minutes.
Just wondering, are you using your Fire to keep us up to date on our trip. If so I’m impressed. My fire changes so many words that one wouldn’t know if we were heading to St. Lou or Kalamazoo.
 
No, I'm not. I'm using my phone instead. Left the Fire tablet at home and brought a small e-reader instead (which is pretty useless at anything but e-books).
6 minutes late arriving at St Louis; leaving at 2:55. Used the cafe car restroom while we were stopped at St Louis. (That nuked cheeseburger 🍔 was catching up with me!)
Just wondering, are you using your Fire to keep us up to date on our trip. If so I’m impressed. My fire changes so many words that one wouldn’t know if we were heading to St. Lou or Kalamazoo.
 
We finally saw the Mississippi River today as we were leaving St Louis. (Too many buildings blocked the view yesterday.) Stopped at Alton at about 3:45pm (7 minutes late). Will try to make do with the bottled water and snacks at our seats until we get home. Assuming the hubby still wants pizza 🍕 for supper, I will try to call in the order once we are at Pontiac.

12 minutes late arriving at Carlinville. We should be arriving at Springfield at about 4:45pm.
Don't know if I had already mentioned this, but a Mennonite couple boarded at Jefferson City, and they're going all the way to Chicago. They are sitting in the pair of seats directly across from us.

We've been having live announcements from the conductor on the Illinois portion of today's trip, compared to the automated announcements yesterday. As we arrived in Springfield, the conductor was making jokes about Illinois politicians, which got a lot of chuckles. Now approaching Lincoln, 7 minutes late.

Now leaving Bloomington, 11 minutes late. Ordered pizza while we were stopped, and told the waitress when we'd be back in Dwight. Conductor was cracking jokes about "Bloomington Abnormal", to more chuckles.
 
We've been having live announcements from the conductor on the Illinois portion of today's trip, compared to the automated announcements yesterday. As we arrived in Springfield, the conductor was making jokes about Illinois politicians, which got a lot of chuckles. Now approaching Lincoln, 7 minutes late.
What do they call the Governors Mansion in Illinois?

Answer: Joliet State Prison🤣🤣🤣
 
Arrived in Dwight at roughly 6:25PM, a little late, but not bad. 1 other person was getting off at Dwight, and she knew a couple the hubby also knew. Our van was sitting right where we had parked it yesterday morning at the station. (Not something we'd do outside our hometown, or for longer than an overnight trip.) Had to wait a few minutes to pick up our pizza, as I had guesstimated our arrival by how long it takes us to drive from Bloomington to Dwight. It was good quality pizza, though, worth waiting for!
A few concluding thoughts:
-- Business Class is totally worth it, especially for rides over an hour long, and especially for older passengers who are no longer skinny (a description which fits us all too well, unfortunately). Being able to put one's feet up and not crowd a seatmate greatly enhances one's enjoyment on long train rides.
-- The Cafe Car offerings vary in quality, depending to a large extent on how well they hold up to being microwaved. The cold turkey sandwich and the blue corn tamale were very good; the Hebrew National hot dog & White Castle cheeseburgers were OK to decent; and the Angus cheeseburger was pretty meh at best. And if you like chips other than plain potato chips, Doritos or pretzels, you'd better bring your own (and eat at your seat). Bottled water is a great thirst quencher between meals, but don't expect to refill an empty water bottle on the train (except possibly in the restroom in the Business Class/Cafe Car).
-- You WILL want to walk around on the train every so often, regardless of where you're sitting. Even a walk to the restroom and back can help relieve sore, cramped legs that have been sitting a long time.
-- Have a plan for how you will reach wherever you're staying for the night, and don't be afraid to ask directions from Amtrak staff in the station at your destination. And finally,
-- If you see something interesting along the way, think about visiting there on your next trip! (The hubby has already expressed an interest in visiting Independence, MO next time, and staying long enough to visit the Harry Truman sites.)
 
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