Lessons Learned: Trains are always fun

One of my Christmas presents from last year was a certificate for an overnight stay on an excursion train, and we redeemed my certificate this weekend. Mike and I took Friday off from work to start our adventure, which began early morning when we were awakened by a huge storm that came in the night. Our power went out so we had to take our showers, get ready, and finish packing in the dark. Our journey was delayed by an hour, so that wasn’t too bad.

We had a two-hour drive to our destination: Trego, Wisconsin. We stopped in St. Croix Falls for breakfast where we visited with my sister, brother-in-law (Pam and Dean), his sister Denise, and her step-granddaughter Thelma from Iceland. We met Thelma in California, three years ago, when she came with her sister for a visit. We loved seeing her. She’s such a cutie. The visit got us back on track (pun intended), and we didn’t feel as rushed or frazzled like we did when we first left.

After visiting the smaller towns along the way, we arrived at the new train station five minutes before check in. The Wisconsin Great Northern Excursion Train moved their headquarters from Spooner to Trego, and this was the company’s second day at their new location. We watched as the engine attached the 7th car to the rest of the train. By the sound of the wheels screeching and the loud clunking, I don’t think the train liked the new, curved track.

On board, the porter directed us to our room, a little sleeping cabin complete with bunk beds and a bathroom with toilet and sink. The sink was cool. The basin, a stainless steel bowl, dropped down over the toilet. The water from the faucet stayed in the bowl until you raised the basin up again and let the water drain through a narrow, long slot. The cabin looked like it had all the original hardware intact. I wondered what it was like back in the day when the sleeping cabins were new. We’re thinking our car was built in the late thirties or early forties.

Once we dropped our suitcases off, we went to the lounge for appetizers and drinks. At six o’clock we left the station. I held on to the table in front of me as the cars clunked noisily across the curved rail. We were in the sixth car out of seven. Behind us was the first class passenger lounge and cabins with the kitchen. Our car had a lounge and sleeping cabins. The other cars included another dining/bar area, sleeping cabins, a lounge, the generator, and a bar that included a dance floor with a disco light.

Mike in the lounge of the train car where we stayed.

Mike in the lounge of the train car where we stayed.

We were served dinner as the train took us through a few small towns, an abandoned park with a miniature Ferris wheel, a junkyard with old cars and trucks, and a photo opportunity stop next to the Namekagon river. Again I wondered what it was like back in the day when trains were the mode of transportation, and how a person would react to seeing the territory for the first time. The miles of trees and a winding river had to be awesome and overwhelming.

The Namekagon River

The Namekagon River

The train ride was approximately three hours long. Once we were back at the station, we walked through the cars, took pictures, and had a nightcap at the disco bar. When we turned in, we had the air and the fan blasting in our cabin. We never heard the storm outside, but we knew it came when seeing puddles in the sand and dirt.

After breakfast, we had to leave. We enjoyed our little adventure on the train. I’ve always liked trains. When I was little, we grew up near a railroad track. When the train stopped in town to load up, the caboose stopped near our house. The conductor let us play in the caboose until the train was ready to leave again. Now that would’ve been fun, to stay in the caboose overnight!

Now I’ll have to take a train ride across the states and see how I like it. Maybe even ride the bullet train.

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