Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Listen to the jingle, the rumble, and the roar...

My husband and I are planning a visit to his grandmother, who lives half the country away. Given limited vacation time, I thought that we'd have to go by plane, but when I checked Amtrak's website, I found that there is a daily express train that runs overnight. Woot! And it's cheaper than the other train options, and even taking a sleeping compartment is cheaper for the two of us than going by air.

Good. Every time I hear someone complain about the cost of going by train, or complain that the government is supporting rail travel, I want to ask what would become of auto travel or of flying if the cost of fuel and highways weren't so heavily subsidized. And even then: It's cheaper for us to travel first class by train than it is cattle class by plane. And we can stretch out, walk around, enjoy a dinner that isn't an expensive yet stale sandwich and drink. We can go to the lounge car if we want to meet people. We don't have to show our shampoo and toothpaste to someone. (In fact, shampoo is provided by the train for those in sleeper arrangements.)

So, we'll be on a mini vacation: head over to the train station in the afternoon - maybe grab some juice or pastries in the first class lounge, board the train and settle into our tiny compartment. (We'll be in what was once known as a standard sleeper, now called a "roomette".) We'll have dinner and breakfast reservations, access to shower and bathroom facilities, a picture window and table, and, of course, bunks. We can watch America go by out that window, play cards, sing train songs ... After figuring out that we *could* take the train, I went around the apartment singing "Wabash Cannonball," "City of New Orleans," and other train songs.

No security lines, no having to unpack and repack because some guard caught sight of embroidery scissors I forgot to remove from my craft bag. (Or having one guard decide that 2-inch embroidery scissors are fine, just to have them confiscated on the return trip. Meh.) No being told I can't wait for my husband to catch up. No having to take off my shoes and outer clothing. No having to worry about arriving 2 hours early - 1/2 an hour if you want to check luggage through so it has time to get on board... And, let's face it, train stations look nicer than airports, and at least the one in D.C. has better food choices. Plus, it's much more easily accessible by public transit than the airports...

So I'm definitely looking forward to the chug of the engine, the rattle of the rails, and that lonesome whistle in the night.


Blogger Rae Trigg said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who prefers trains to planes.

10/19/2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I'm a recent and passionate convert to train travel as well. Instead of losing a day on each end of my trip to the misery that is airline travel, the time spent on the train feel like a real vacation. And I rest more on the train than I would at my destination. Plus trains have that awesome whistle.
Have a great trip!

10/20/2007 8:16 AM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Thank you. Yes, I'm really looking forward to the train. In fact, I'm looking forward so much that this afternoon, I pulled down my picnic backpack from the closet, washed all the utensils, and began to plan out what all we would take for our train snacks. Thus far, roasted pumpkin seeds and dried fruit are definitely on the menu.

10/21/2007 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I love trains too. Our family often will take the train to eastern Montana on the Empire builder just because it's so easy. Get on in Whitefish, get off in Wolf Point by 4pm. Let us know how the sleeper works out. I couldn't believe they are only 85 bucks. Way to go!

10/22/2007 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know the song "something 'bout trains" by Jane Siberry? Every time I hear that whistle blowin'..

10/22/2007 2:12 PM  

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