When I left on my trip back east I’d decided not to take my computer with me, mostly because of the extra weight to carry around, and the hassle of trying to keep it secure. So of course, no posts about the trip. In retrospect I wish I’d taken it…
The trip was grueling – three and a half days to my destination, three and a half days for the return. The route took me from Tucson through San Antonio, with a forced overnight there aboard the train each way, to Chicago and finally to Virginia.
The best advice I would give to anyone thinking about traveling by train is:
1.) If you are in a hurry don’t take the train. Delays are inevitable. Near Crawford, TX on the return trip we were ‘side-tracked’ for four hours waiting for a crew down the line to clean up an accident where a semi-truck driver tried to cross the tracks at the signal ahead of the train. He was killed.
2.) Be flexible – both in attitude and in body. You meet a LOT of different people who will try your patience with the human race. And if you’ve got a reserved coach seat, as I did, it’s important to know how to bend like a pretzel.
3.) Don’t be afraid to shout “Quiet!!!” if the kids are bugging you (I wasn’t afraid, but I didn’t shout – I only tried to ‘understand’ – it took a lot of inner strength…)
4.) If you enjoy mazes you’ll love Chicago’s Union Staion.
5.) If you are a senior, traveling solo, and you have been given the opportunity to board the train before others, and you have selected your seat first, don’t allow yourself to be talked into moving to another seat to accommodate other passengers who ‘must’ sit together. Let those who are not seniors, traveling solo, move.
6.) On a crowded train, where almost everyone is talking, or trying to sleep, there is not much room for solitude. Bring eye mask and ear plugs (and if you have a laptop, bring it, with earphones attached.)
7.) Learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time. Or, practice getting your sea legs at sea.
8.) When traveling through certain cities that border Mexico, be sure you are not an undocumented alien. The Border Patrol will find you. Also do not cause fights or fires aboard the train, as you will be removed immediately.
9.) If you smoke, or if you just want to get a breath of fresh air during scheduled smoking stops, be sure to get back on the train immediately when you hear, “All aboard!” Or you will be left behind.
10.) I hear – I did not experience – that hanky-panky happens on trains, too.
There are also positive things to say about traveling by train. Stay tuned for the next post.