Chugga, Chugga Choo Choo

Yeah, that’s a strange title. But I spent 15 hours that morphed into 16 hours {and 25 if you count transit time and wait time} yesterday-today (Wednesday-Thursday, May 8-9) on a train chugging from Worcester, MA, to Toledo, OH.

It’s a joyous trip — my grandson’s wedding Saturday — made even more joyous because I’ll be with my oldest son and two daughters, at least a half dozen grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

But this isn’t about the wedding. It’s about 16 hours on a silver Amtrack tube transporting me and other journeying souls across a third of the country.

This isn’t the first time I ventured by train. And I still am not thrilled at being confined that long with no control but the rails. That being said, train travel is a bargain.

Given my age, the round trip from Worcester to Toledo was actually less than gas. Check one for the train. No tolls. Check two for the train. Scheduled travel time was about the same. Wash. Wear and tear on this old body and the car. I’ll call it a wash, although on the train I was able to get a few winks. Convenience. No contest … driving wins hands down.

I am not particularly a patient “waiter”. I get antsy just sitting around a station for more than, say, five minutes. With the train, my station wait time is less than by air {which is a big reason I don’t fly}. Typically, especially with smaller stations, as long as you’ve pre-printed your ticket and you make it before the train leaves the station, you’re A-OK. I usually figure about a half hour to an hour.

But you do have a schedule to meet. In my case, the train left Worcester at 2:05 p.m. {although I left Dover-Foxcroft, ME, around 5 a.m. to spend a couple of hours with my Charlton, MA, son and family} for a 5:55 a.m. arrival in Toledo. We left Worcester just a couple of minutes late, but by the time we reached Cleveland we were about an hour behind schedule and pulled into Toledo at 7 a.m. My daughter picked me up, but had school transport duty, so we had to coordinate schedules as best we could. Thank God for texting. I just don’t like to be dependent like that.

As for train travel itself, it can be enjoyable. The seats — while not plush — were comfortable and with about half occupancy you could stretch out over two adjoining seats. Unlike air travel, you could walk around at will — just walking the aisle to keep the blood circulating in the legs or visiting the car for light fare and beverages..

People on the train are fascinating. Everyone has a story and many of them are willing to share them. There was a fellow in front of me fresh out of rehab with aspirations to get certified as a drug and alcohol counselor to pay it forward. The Navy veteran with a long goatee beard across the aisle was making his third trip from Worcester to Toledo in two months as he prepares to relocate to his Detroit, MI, home. He is a licensed embalmer and worked  for a medical examiner in Massachusetts. He’s heading to the VA in Detroit. Oh, the stories he shared! There were a couple of young women with small children who received extra attention from crew and neighbors. There was an older Amish family who boarded in Syracuse, NY, for a Cleveland disembarkment. The ladies were talkative, only I couldn’t eavesdrop because they spoke Dutch. My daughter reported while waiting for me in Toledo, an Amish entourage got off the eastbound train and one of the  women was carrying a Victoria’s Secret bag! You don’t see that everyday.

I must be getting better at this sleeping on the train thing. For the better part of the night I caught some zzzs, deep enough to visit Dreamland. Nothing to write about, mind you, but deep enough to fill the mind with pictures. I did discover no one in my dreams talked. Their mouths moved, but I had to use my imagination to construct their conversations. At any rate, the gentle rocking and steady clicking of wheels on the track was soothing, so much so I slept through the Rochester, NY, stop and woke up in Buffalo, NY. I fell asleep as the train shuffled out of Buffalo and awoke only as we were leaving Erie, PA. Overall, I managed a couple of minutes here, maybe an hour or two there, but not out cold like many, if not most of my fellow travelers.

Another cautionary tale. Don’t take the overnight for scenery. There is none … just blackness. As dawn broke, I noticed a lot of shrubbery serving as a break from railroad to private property, the back of a lot of buildings, and rail yards as we approached our stops. And homes adjacent to railroad tracks tended to be, well, less affluent.

The biggest downside however was connectivity. Wi-Fi is strong … but depending on where you are, Internet connectivity was spotty or non-existent. I did have Internet access for most of the Massachusetts leg, but by the time I hit Albany, neither my phone nor laptop would connect to the Internet. It makes a long trip a  little longer.

So, if you want to travel with great people, take the train. You’ll get from point A to point B … eventually.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. — Winston Churchill


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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4 Responses to Chugga, Chugga Choo Choo

  1. My chosen form of travel
    (know I’m a capit’list pig);
    please, dude, don’t unravel,
    but I plan to buy a MiG.
    A -21 will do just fine
    it’s really, really fast,
    and by the time it gets to flyin’
    it’s almost outta gas.
    When the afterburner lights
    with that gorgeous sound
    I’ll be passin’ scheduled flights
    and coverin’ lots of ground.
    Feel the rush, feel the power
    and feel the thousand bucks per hour.


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