Tag Archives: train travel

The Traveling Intangibles

Hair Explosion

Closed eyes and hair explosion . We're not always picture perfect.

What do we learn when we travel? It’s hard to put into words, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.People are all different, but the same? Duh! Maybe I’m just lucky, but I tend to gravitate towards happy people and they to me.

A person who loves where they are and what they are doing, right here right now, is a joy to talk to. They could be flying a ship, running a country, or selling newspapers. It doesn’t matter.

If you fall face first in a mud puddle, roll around in it, feel it squish through your toes. It’s a free mud pack. Some women will pay big bucks for that.

Happy people love to tell you about their happiness. You just need to shut up and listen. If you’re drinking – takes notes. You won’t remember in the morning.

Stranded in North Dakota

Flooding on the tracks - Stranded in North Dakota

You never really know someone until you have traveled with them. How do they handle frustration, inconvenience, indignities, schedules blown to hell, pain, or hunger.

All of this could happen in a 5 minute time span in a bus station. Greyhound bus stations in the USA are the armpits of our country. It doesn’t have to be that way, it just it. Why it is I don’t know.

So Mom, Sis and I take our train trip. We never discussed anything about how we were going to handle things, it was unspoken. But it worked. The biggest thing was that we gave each other space,  not just physical but mental. For a question like, “Hey, I’m going to lounge car wanna go with?” “No, thanks” was a perfectly acceptable response.

No grilling, coercing, guilt tripping or demanding an explanation; “Why not? What are you doing? Why don’t you want to go? Are you mad at me? Are you taking a break because you drank too much last night? Well, I went with you last time you went.” Blah, blah, blah.

My Mama-San

My Mama-San

We managed to travel as 3 separate adult women, together as friends. Not triamese triplets, joined at the hip. Good thing too. 3 women hooked together won’t fit through most doors.

We had 2 roomettes (2 person sleeper berth) on the train. We didn’t stake out territory. This is MY seat and that is YOUR seat. We just floated between rooms. The view is better on this side of the train at the moment. We wanted to sit together so sat 2 to a seat occasionally. When one of us wanted some alone time we just wandered off to the other roomette. My sister described it as butterflies. I think it’s a beautiful description. It worked well. None of that “this is MY flower, get off it and get your own flower!”

I’m not saying that every moment was pure bliss, and that we didn’t have any disagreements. But we got over it quickly and got back to enjoying each other and our trip. That is what is most important on a journey.

In Case of Emergency


In Case of Emergency - Drink Rasberry Liquore

In case of emergency break glass. After scrutinizing the emergency kit carefully, there is a glaring exception. There is not a bottle of bourbon in there! If the conductor has to bash me out of my room with a sledge hammer or a crowbar, I’m going to need a good stiff drink. One itty-bitty band-aid won’t cut it.

During this journey I’ve gathered some tips. I hope will help me and whoever staggers in my footsteps. Now I’m speaking specifically of trains in the USA, Amtrak. The following are my informal rules for train travel.

Before boarding the train (pre-travel), try showering in a phone booth while clenching a toothbrush in your teeth. You lose points if you drop the toothbrush or jam it up your nose. You get a blue ribbon if the phone booth is on an angle. Add to that a gold star if you persuade a friend to load up the phone booth in his pickup truck and drive over speed bumps at 70 mph.

train kit

In Case of Emergency - Break Glass

  • Train travel is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. (Forest Gump) But get real, they are all chocolate.
  • Wait until after dinner to have a drink. Any sooner and you will get so groggy that someone will have to drag you to dinner by your shirt collar, and that would be embarrassing.
  • Don’t complain. Just don’t! In a delay or malfunction, everyone is in the same situation. Listening to others whine just makes it worse for everyone else. Trust me. (this works for life in general)
  • Bring your emergency stash. A few miniatures of liquor will put a whole new light on any situation. I bought a little bottle of Chambord in Reno and we shared it right before pulling into Chicago.
  • Don’t even bother to expect to get anywhere on time. Only one who succeeded at that was Mussolini. Not a good trade-off.
  • Tip your car attendant well. He or she works their tail off. They can also make your life a living hell if you don’t behave. This is only an observation, of course. I never misbehave. Well not so bad I get in trouble on the train anyway.
  • Get to the dining car early, they run out of the good stuff. But, the other stuff is good too, so don’t panic.
  • Don’t get your knickers in a twist if the conductor sits down and eats the desert they told you they were out of. He can throw you off the train if you sass him.
  • Pull your pants legs up in the restroom, unless you want the hem of your pants to become awash with God only knows what.
  • Look out the window, relax and enjoy. It’s a nonstop show. Put away the laptop!

Trainiacs Anonymous

Sisters 0n the Train - Reno to Chicago

It’s official! We are now dedicated, experienced trainiacs. Relaxing here in my berth in the dark.Watching the stars and the moon. If I press my face to the window I see the the Seirra Mountains in the moonlight, hear the train whistle blowing. It sound mournful and beckoning at the same time. Can almost hear the whisper “come away with me.”

Sure, a plane is great for getting from here to there in a shorter time, theoretically anyway. If you live near the airport. If they don’t cancel or delay your flight, etc, etc. The biggest differences are the scenery, comfort and meeting other travelers. I’m sitting here enjoying a glass of iced tea with my feet up, sharing random thoughts. Just can’t get much closer to heaven on earth. Passing through the Rocky Mountains this afternoon. Conductor announced we will reach 9,000 feet at the highest pass.

Mooning the TrainThe train is traveling along the Colorado river. We saw lots of white water rafters today. Seems the thing to do when Amtrak passes by is moon the train. I have to admire the dexterity of a man who can drop his pants and wave his behind in the air while balancing in a rubber raft.

To me plane traveling is about like getting strip searched at high noon, shoved into a trunk of a car and poked in the ribs every 5 minutes for 3 hours by some dude crammed in the trunk with me. I don’t get a discount on my air ticket for being slim. Why should I share my seat with the gigantoid in the adjoining seat? Once on a long flight, a large women in the seat next to me actually pulled up the arm rest, informing me she needed more room. I put it back down, enough said.

Back to our travels. Reno was a hoot. What I can remember of it anyway. The casino is designed to loose you in a wonderland of no time or space. Perpetual neon, clanging, dinging slot machines. You could be there for a week and a half and never find your way outside, or even back to your room if things get really out of hand. We did manage to find an exit. Went to the river walk and some gift shops. Got Mr. Husband a set of Alien Dice as a souvenier. Why this seemed the thing to do I have no clue. Just struck me funny. It had absolutely nothing to do with the gin and tonic.

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