Last blog post I detailed my adventures on Boston’s MBTA. Today I’ll talk about my train adventures inside the U.S.
My first real train ride occurred when I was in college in the mid-eighties. A friend and I decided to travel to New York City to visit the museums and take in all the culture. I’d never been to New York City and was excited about it.
We made our way to South Station and boarded the train to The Big Apple. Despite all the subway trains I’d taken, this was an entirely new experience. The seats were bigger and more comfortable. We talked and read and stared out at the passing landscape, excited about the big adventure we were to embark on. A good deal of the journey took place along the water.
We arrived to the station and made our way up to the street level. My first introduction to New York City made quite an impression on me. A sniffling, coughing prostitute, carrying a small infant immediately propositioned me. We made quickly past her and out onto the street. The size and scope of the city awed me. We made our way to the museums and I was especially taken with the Museum of Modern Art. Then we ended our day at McSorley’s, NYC’s oldest brewery and pub. They served two kinds of beers: a dark and a golden.
My most adventurous train journey took place in September of 2001. I was living in Seattle with my wife and two young children, but we were preparing to move to Maine. I took the train from Seattle to Portland, hoping to find a home for us to live. And what a journey it was. The trip was two legs. The first leg from Seattle to Chicago was called The Empire Builder. Much of the time I sat reading in the view car, which was domed with glass. We passed through the mountains of Idaho and Montana and then cruised through the desolate plains. I didn’t get a sleeper, instead drifting off at night in my reclined seat. In the morning I had my coffee and breakfast in the view car, watching the sun come up and staring at the passing landscape, the sound of wheels over track lulling me into a state of relaxation. Then from Chicago we chugged toward Maine until we arrived in Portland.
I spent days in Portland searching for houses with my brother. Fortunately, he owned a car and was able to drive me around. While viewing one house we heard some disturbing news about an attack on The World Trade Center. We turned on the TV and saw the horror taking place in New York City. Searching for houses while knowing our country was under attack was quite unsettling. But once I did find a house the next day, I headed back to the train station to return home. My wife was upset and we kept in contact, filling each other in.
Train travel was near impossible after 9/11. Everyone wanted to travel by train on account that all air travel had been canceled. Fortunately, I had already pre-purchased my return ticket and had a reserved seat. But many travelers were stranded. The train was packed to the gills, unlike when I journeyed to Portland from Seattle. I made it home and embraced my family, grateful to have arrived home safely.
These were memorable train trips that I’ll not soon forget.