The Pros and Cons of Train Travel

More room than an airplane – pro

No free drinks – con

Terrible customer service – con

Nice scenery – pro

Too many delays that add up to hours of my life I will never get back – con

2 people per side of the aisle, so I don’t have to crawl over strangers – pro

Food that must have been held over from WWI – con

No seatbelts – pro

Kids – con

You can walk while it’s going – pro

You have to have to be a surfer to balance – con

No sleeper car, means no sleep – con

Lack of power outlets – con

The train was in its prime 25 years ago – con

They set the AC to “freezer mode” at night – con

The schedule does not account for extensive delays – con

I can drive faster – con

Contributed by Merc:

Free pillow – pro
$15 blanket – con

Joined seats for couples – pro
Joined seats for singles – con

Sporting-event-quality food – con

Ocean view – pro
Forest view – pro
Ghetto view – con

Gas-station-quality restrooms – con

Hearing about first-class entertainment every 10 minutes – con

Key staff taking hour long breaks – con

Not bathing for 40 hours – con

Riding in a cocktail shaker – con

Trains, Planes, Automobiles…and a Ferry?

Merc and I just returned from Seattle. We went up for a quick trip because his cousin Lisa was getting married. (Congrats to the happy couple!)

Sad to say that the trip did not turn out very well at all for us. To save some money, we decided to take the train to Seattle. Everyone had told us how fun it would be and how great the scenery was, so we thought it would be a little adventure. My fair warning to you all is: never take the train. No more than an 8 hour trip on the train. What was supposed to be a 35 hour train trip, took 41 hours. I know, I know, but I figured if I could fly to Australia, I could do this…WRONG. We did not have a sleeper car, and therefore did not get to sleep. While on the train, we also quickly noted that decent food was going to be a lost cause for the next 2 days. One day for lunch, we settled on beer and a Snickers bar. The delays along the way meant that we spent more time on the train than we did in Seattle.

Thankfully, Drew came to pick us up at the station at about 1:00am. We headed to bed to savor the first 6 hours of sleep we’d had in 2 days. The next morning Drew met us for breakfast, and we dashed off to rent a car for the drive to the wedding. They did upgrade us to a tricked out Cadillac for free, score 1 (that’s the only point we get, so enjoy it). We rush to get ready, and set off for the wedding.

We had a bit of a drive ahead of us, but thought that 4 hours would be plenty of time to go about 70 miles. Armed with a 3 maps and a general idea where we were headed, we took off. Getting to the Bainbridge Island Ferry, proved a bit tricky, but once we found it, the real drama began. We waited…probably about an hour and a half to get on the Ferry. Then we took off like the wind thinking that the rest would be simple. (Drew had mentioned something about Seattle being easy to navigate and not having so many freeways like SoCal, blah, blah…well, at least our freeways are marked by signs.) Just to give you an overview, to travel these 70 miles, we drove on 6 separate freeways, three of them were not even on the map! So while we were trying to figure out “Where the hell did 305 go?” and “What’s the 3?” and “Is that what this line is on the map is?” we ended up dead-ending into a college and had to turn around. Finally, we found the tiny town where the wedding was being held. The map directed us to turn onto a road we couldn’t find and having a hunch, we turned around a third time to try an alternate. By the time we actually got there (4.5 hours later), the happy couple was kissing and the minister pronounced them husband and wife.

Well, we made the best of the situation (something we would be sick of by the time this weekend was over). We celebrated, ate, visited with family and danced a bit. It was a beautiful occasion. After we’d said our good-byes and headed back, we reached the ferry terminal at about 10:55pm, where we were told the last ferry of the night would depart at midnight. So we waited another hour to get back. Back at the hotel we collapsed into bed for the second night of 6 hours of sleep in the past 4 days.

In the morning, we headed to the airport. (Yes, we flew back…I knew that was going to be a good choice.) Once back in SoCal, our fabulous driver picked us up exactly on time and we all headed out to a very nice dinner, which we felt was deserved. As Merc put it, “We’ve suffered enough.”

Stuffed Artichokes

So I made my mom’s stuffed artichokes last week, so good. When I was in high school, I found out that most people do not eat artichokes the way my family does. One of my classmates said something about steaming them and dipping the leaves in mayonnaise…I shudder to think of it even now. Anyway, I am putting my recipe out there, since I just can’t imagine eating these weird veggies any other way.

First you prep the artichokes: rinse them off, cut off the stems, cut the very tops off, and cut each of the pointy ends on the petals (kitchen scissors work great). Then put them in water with a little lemon juice so they don’t turn brown.

Next you prep the stuffing: A meatball mixture.

Ingredients: ground beef, Italian style breadcrumbs, an egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, pepper. (If you make meatloaf you can use that recipe.)

So then you pull on the petals and “open up” the artichoke as best you can, stuffing little bits of the meat mixture into each little petal pocket. When you get up toward the top it gets tougher, so just do as much as you can.

Then put the stuffed artichokes in a deep roasting pan or casserole dish. Make meatballs out any remaining meat mixture and put them in the bottom.

Now pour red (spaghetti) sauce over the artichokes and into the pan, be generous. (The sauce can be homemade or from a jar, but please no Ragu or Prego, yuck.)

Cover the pan and place it in a 375 degree oven for an hour, basting occasionally. Then uncover and cook for another hour, basting. Artichokes are done when the petals can be easily pulled off.

It’s just the best! If you want to try it and need more pointers let me know.

Pictures will be up as soon as I download them.