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Introducing the Hotovy Family

Hi, we're the Hotovy family from central New York. Our family consists of a father (Steve), a mother (Marguerite), an 11-year old boy (Mark), a 9-year old girl (Leah), a 7-year old boy (Paul) and a 3-year old boy (Joel). We took a 3 and 1/2 week vacation via Amtrak last spring, traveling from Syracuse, NY to Seattle, WA and back. What follows are Mark's, Leah's and Paul's homeschool trip reports.



Hello, my name is Mark Hotovy. My family and I took the Amtrak train on April 24, 1996. We got aboard the Lake Shore Limited at 12:30 in the morning at Syracuse, NY. On the train I stayed up for an hour because it was my first time being on a train. I went to sleep about 1:30 AM. I got up at 7:00 AM. Our train arrived in Chicago one hour late at 2:30 PM.

The next train we were going to take on the leg to Lincoln, Nebraska was the California Zephyr. We saw the Sears Tower from the train. Here are my journal entries for the trip to Nebraska:

April 24th

My mom is being a huge pain!!! She is making me write one and one-half pages a day in my journal. We have passed 19 trains and a lot more to come. I'm starved. We went over Lake Erie and saw 5 great blue herons. I have explored the train. It's big and the chairs are comfortable. It has been a very, very long trip to Chicago to transfer trains. We boarded the California Zephyr at 4:00 PM.

April 25th

We arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska about 2:30 AM The Ramada Inn shuttle picked us up and took us to the hotel. We got to Grandma and Grandpa's house about 11:30 AM. Everything was close to being the same. Grandma made a lot of desserts or treats for us. I had the following:

  • 7-10 gooey rolls which were great
  • 15-20 kolaches, which were superb
  • 7-10 sugar cookies

Then I watched 4-6 hours of TV. We also went to a playground where we played Ghost in the Graveyard.

We stayed at our grandparent's house until May 1. We had a fun time with our grandparents and cousins. We left and went to the hotel in Lincoln becuase the train was going to leave at 2:30 AM. This train was the Pioneer/California Zephyr which would split at Denver. We would continue on the Pioneer to Portland, Oregon to visit some more cousins.

Here are my journal entries for this part of the trip:

May 1st

We left the hotel early in the morning to go to the station. The train was running half an hour late. On the train most of the people were asleep. We got seats #61-66. When I woke up we explored the train. Paul and Leah soon joined Dad and Joel and me. We went back to our car and had breakfast. We arrived in Denver. Then we went ot the lounge on the train and got cookies. We watched the scenery for a while. We saw a reservation for buffalo or bison. We also saw the main crops of different states. We went through about 2 or 3 tunnels on the train.

May 2nd

In the morning I woke up and had peach cobbler for breakfast. We arrived in Portland and spent the rest of the day visiting our cousins.

May 3nd

We left the Portland hotel at 8:00 AM to catch the train to Seattle. Dad said we would be there in 4 hours. We were! We talked a lot about homeschooling with the cafeteria people. We stopped at a lot of places including Tacoma and Olympia. When we arrived in Seattle we went to a park that Mom and Dad went to when they lived in Seattle. Mam and Dad showed us their old house. We also went to a cinnamon roll spot.

We stayed in Seattle through May 10th. On the last day, we dropped off our stuff at the train station. Then we took the rental car back to Avis. We walked all over downtown Seattle. We went to a bookstore that had desserts. We got 5 desserts and split them. Then I went to the science fiction section where I lookd for some "Star Wars" books.

From the store we headed to the train station. We were going to board in Seattle, but there was a chance of a mudslide near the next stop. We boarded some buses and they dropped us off at Everett. We saw the freight train's conductor reach out and grab a roll of paper notes stuck out on a metal arm as the train went by.

May 10th and 11th

The first leg of the trip was sort of boring. The scenery was nice though. Paul and I played poker all that day. We played close to a 100 games. On Sunday we had breakfast on the train. I had a New Orleans Omelette. It was good! It was an omelette with salsa. We watched the scenery. It was scary when we were on a ledge looking down. We saw tons of mountains.

On May 12th we arrived in Glenview, Illinois to see more cousins. We were going to stay there for 5 days.

On May 17th, we left Illinois on the Lake Shore Limited. I really did miss my cousins. We arrived in Syracuse on May 18th at the end of our 3-week trip.



Hello, my name is Leah Hotovy. I went on a cross-country trip by train. It was spectacular. My family went by coach. We got to look out the window and see buffalo. The people on the train are so nice. They let my 3 brothers and me walk on the train. We started our trip in Syracuse, New York. My family was headed to Lincoln, Nebraska. Here are my journal entries for the first part of the trip.

April 24th

We are still on the first train. As we were passing Chicago, there were lots of dumps near the train tracks. A LOT of dumps. Then we transferred to another train. It was a two-story train. We got to be on top. We played cards and I won 3 times. When there was a 2-hour stop in Chicago we played obstacle courses outside. We saw a movie on the train -- it was really silly. We told a guy about the Bismarck. On the train there are lounge cars, dining room cars and bathrooms.

April 25th

We entered Lincoln at 2:30 AM. So we got on a shuttle van (I always wanted to go on one of those). We got to the hotel and went to bed at 3:00 AM. We got up and went to our Grandma's house. For breakfast we had kolaches and gooey rolls -- nothing else. Then I found a straw hat; it was pretty.

After a week, we left Grandma's house and went back to the hotel.

May 1st

Today my Dad got a wake-up call, so we had to get up. Then we went to the train station. After we boarded the train we went to sleep. For breakfast we had peach cobbler. It was OK. Today on the train I did crosstics. In the evening we had supper in the dining room. Then we looked outside. I saw a mountain like a square. We also went under tunnels. We saw buffalo and deer. It was beautiful.

On May 2nd, we arrived in Portland and I saw my aunt and cousins. Afterwards we went back to the hotel.

May 3rd

This morning I had pancackes for breakfast. After that we went to the train station. The train was 30 minutes late. When we got on the train, I got a soda. Mom said we had to stay in the snack bar for 20 minutes. It is a 4-hour trip to Seattle. When we got to Seattle we went to a restaurant called "Mama's Mexican Kitchen". Then we went to a park and played around.

May 10th

It is Friday and time to leave. It was so much fun in Seattle. Mom and Dad packed up. We returned the rental car. I really missed the car. After that we walked around downtown. We went through this waterfall. After that we went to the bookstore. We got a treat there and Mark and I split 2 things. Then Mark showed us lots of "Star Wars" books and my Dad got 3. Then we caught a bus to take us to the train.

May 11th-12th

Today is Saturday. Every single meal came out of our cooler. We had a Danish and then we walked around the train. And then we went to sleep. The next morning we had breakfast in the dining car. For lunch we were in the dining car again. Mom and I had some cranberry juice and pretzels.

We arrived on Sunday in Evanston, Illinois to visit my aunt and cousins. We had a fun time, but had to leave on Friday.



Hi! I'm Paul, a homeschooler, and I'm 7 years old. Here's some notes I took on our trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.

April 24th

I saw lots of blue herons on Lake Erie. I also saw some hawks in Ohio. I took lots of snapshots with my camera. I went through lots of compartments on the train. I went through the dining car and played cards in the lounge car. The seats are very comfortable. You can lay back on them and flip the footrest.

April 25th

The day we got to the hotel we got there close to 3AM. When we got to Grandma's house we hugged each other. We went upstairs and we got the gooey rolls and ate them.

After we left Lincoln, we headed to Portland, Oregon.

May 1st

We got on the train about 2:00 in the morning. We played at cards. We played a video game in the Denver train station. We went through some tunnels and saw mountains. I saw a carving on a rock.

May 2nd

We got up in the morning and saw dams on the Columbia River. We went to the Travel Lodge in Portland.

We visited our cousins in Portland. The next day we traveled to Seattle.

May 3rd

We went to the train station and played around. We got on the train to Seattle. It was called the Cascadia. We arrived in Seattle. We went to "Mama's Mexican Kitchen" for lunch. We went to the old neighborhood where we used to live before I was born. This is the first neighborhood in Seattle I had ever seen. Then we went to a big toy where we played tag.

We did lots in Seattle. On the last day ---

May 10th

Mom and Dad packed up. We watched TV and had lunch and then returned the rental car. We walked around downtown Seattle. We went through a waterfall. I got nice and wet. We had dessert at the Elliot Bay Bookstore. Dad got us a Star Wars book. And then we walked to the railroad station. We got on a bus and then we got on the train in Everett. We met a guy that worked on the Oregon to Seattle route. He was happy to see us.

May 11th-12th

We just rode the train. And we ate our own food. I liked watching Bugs Bunny, the movie on the train. We played cards. The next day we got into Glenview, Illinois. Aunt Betsy picked us up. We went to their house. Michaela had a birthday. She was 7. We had cake.

We had a great time in Illinois.

May 17th

Our cousins Danny and Michaela took off from school. We played and saw the movie "Jumanji" with Robin Williams. I didn't like it. It was spooky. We left. Danny wanted to get on the train with us. Off we go.

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