I’m writing this from the my seat on the Empire Builder from St. Paul to Chicago. I just put on Ryan Adam’s “New York, New York.” Even though the song is technically about the Big Apple, it seems to work well with the the rhythm of the train. You know about those moments in your life, the ones where the music matches up perfectly with your surroundings. It’s the movie type scene. There’s got to be some sort of word for it in some language.
I sat in the viewing car for a while. That was nice. The tracks paralleled the Mississippi River for a while. That sort of threw more for a loop at first because I’m so used to traveling via I-94 to Wisconsin/Chicago. It was a nice change of scenery. There were lots of fishing boats out on the water, some of them even waved hi. I saw a barge pushing freight. (Is that the correct word?)
The train kind of forces you to be social. A 20-something girl asked if she could sit next to me on the train. I am not the type to take up two seats, so i sad that she could. We chatted a little bit about our journeys. We talked a little bit of Harry Potter and our jobs. It wasn’t serious, in-depth conversation, but it was a pleasant addition to the ride.
Neither busses nor airplanes provide the same window for socializing. It’s hard to talk on planes because of the noise, and the loosening of restrictions on electronic devices provide more opportunities for people to plug in their headphones and ignore everyone. I think you just try to sit in, shut down, and hang on for the bus ride. Bus rides are rarely pleasant. I don’t think busses are designed for you to enjoy the ride. And I’m glad I didn’t drive. Parking lots and traffic are two of my least favorite things.
We took a family trip out east the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a long trip: Minneapolis to Chicago, Chicago to D.C., D.C. to Williamsburg, Williamsburg to Boston (complete with a midnight transfer in New York City), and then Boston back to Chicago. I don’t think I’d recommend doing a trip like that, but just one of those trips isn’t so bad.
I remember a couple things about that trip. I sat next to the chair (or some active official) of the Delaware Independence Party. I told him I wanted to study history. He told me that he thought the three worst presidents in history were Lincoln (for his suspension of civil liberties during the Civil War) , Wilson, and FDR. That sort of surprised me. I remember getting on the train at 4 a.m. at Union Station in New York City and seeing an absolutely beautiful girl. For some reason, I thought she was French. Maybe I was just tired.
On our trip back from Boston to Chicago, we had a layover in Buffalo, New York. I had reached that point in the trip where I just needed to see someone my age. I met a girl who was on a similar college trip as me. Her name was Quilla and she said she was applying to every Ivy League school. We ended up talking with each other for a few hours into the night in the dining car. She got off somewhere in Pennsylvania. She gave me her email address, but I haven’t seen her since. Oh well.
We’re at the Wisconsin Dells now. Well the train might not be the most efficient or glamorous way to travel, it gives you some room to think, which is more than can be said about a lot of ways to travel.