It's good, when you go away on vacation, to be gone long enough to realize you have indeed been somewhere. Twelve days about did it for us. By the time we headed for home -- a leg of the journey that took far longer than we would have liked -- Dragonstar and I were spent. We were done being gone.
Returning on the Amtrak from Phoenix is inconvenient. There is no train service to the city itself. The nearest point of departure is Flagstaff, two-plus hours north. The train leaves that station once each day, at 5 a.m. It gets into Kansas City the next morning, around 7:30, too late to catch the first train to St. Louis. The second train leaves at 4 p.m.
And so you wait. Union Station in Kansas City is gorgeous, and you'd love to explore it, but there are no lockers to stow your gear, and even though you thought you were "packing light" your 30-lb travel bag has become a lead albatross around your shoulder, and from the look on her face it's clear that your traveling companion is feeling the same about her 30-lb travel bag. Not for the first time you wish you had brought your wheeled bags instead, and not for the first time you remind yourself that your wheeled bags would not have fit in your tiny Superliner Roomette. You barely fit in your Superliner Roomette.
And so you pass the time in Kansas City dozing in the waiting room in the Amtrak wing of the station, because dozing helps the hours go by, and because the wooden benches are not nearly so uncomfortable when you are in the prone position.
Eight hours later, no longer concerned with how you look, you climb back on board a train, headed for home, grateful for the roomy coach class seat with its deep cushions and its footrest. The novel you bought at the bookstore in Phoenix takes you all the way into St. Louis. Your sweetie is waiting at the station, as happy to see you as you are to see him. It was 89 degrees the day you left Phoenix. It is perhaps 50 degrees in St. Louis. You have traveled far. You all climb into the van, and begin the long drive home.
Above, right: tin mask nestled in a stone shrine at the Mystery Castle in Phoenix.