Just Plain Foolish

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm back.

Caught up on my rest some after the grand train adventure. We wound up going sleeper car both ways, and it was lovely. While the "roomette" accomodations are indeed tiny (there was essentially no room for more than my husband's messenger bag, my small handwork bag, our coats and our two selves), they were plenty comfortable, with room to stretch out a little, a fold-out table, and a tiny closet. Meals were included, and while the selection was limited (it might be difficult to maintain a strict diet for more than a day on board), the service was prompt and the food reasonably tasty.

And they provided a space to go for quiet. While we enjoyed meeting many people over meals, it was also nice to be able to go to our own space and shut the door. In the dining car, we met train enthusiasts, a Katrina relief worker and his wife travelling to relatives, a professional dancer on vacation, a woman travelling to a school reunion and other interesting people.

I think if I were travelling with children, the train would have to be my first choice - on our way out, there were two infants on the same car with us, and a family with children. Unlike air travel, there were no major pressure adjustments, even as we travelled through the Appalachian mountains, since we mostly rode along the valleys. There was room to move about for the older children, and even my husband and I found ourselves practically glued to the windows, stopping only to sleep and eat.

The scenery was fabulous: from rolling hills and tumbling rivers to the vast open expanses of the Plains. At night, we found ourselves watching the Christmas decorations flow by. One house was plainly waiting for the train, because as we passed, they blinked the lights and waved to us. On the way back, we were able to tell when we passed the Eastern Great Divide, simply by watching the waters beside us - and watching the Potomac turn from a tiny mountain stream to the churning whitewater near Harper's Ferry was incredible.

Frequently, we found ourselves saying, "That town looks interesting. Can you tell where we are?" We were grateful for local businesses, because they often incorporate the name of the area, or prominant local features. Also, they were often nicer to look at.

As we left Chicago, we passed a large shipping yard and were simply blown away by the volume of freight containers - One part, we weren't sure - was that a warehouse made of freight containers, or simply a stack? We found ourselves thinking about the incredible wealth of a nation that produces those vast yards of food and goods. How can it be possible that we have created a system where so many lack basic heathcare? How could that happen?

Frequently, especially in some of those small towns, or along the rocky gorges of the Appalachians, we found ourselves wishing we could somehow both ride the train to see what comes next, and also that we could get out and explore the treasures that we passed...

I guess what I'm saying is... Wow, what a ride!

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Blogger Little Black Car said...

I love trains. I should find an excuse to go somewhere on a train.

We went through Chicago on a train when I was three or four. We accidentally left my brother's tommy tippy cup in the Chicago train station. Ha ha.

12/13/2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger Quiet Paths said...

Trains are awesome. Glad to know it went well. My aunt always gets a sleeper coming out here from Chicago. Trains slow everything down so you can truly absorb your journey!

12/14/2007 8:27 AM  

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