Riding the Rails

This is a very civilized way to travel. It might not be fast but it’s very comfortable sitting here in the lounge car, IPad plugged in, tea at hand and incredibly beautiful southwest scenery out the huge windows. Upstairs is the lounge with the glass top where you can sit and stare out the window and feel like you are accomplishing something with no effort.

I have my own little (and I mean little) roomette in a sleeping car a couple of cars forward from here. There are two comfortable seats that face each other and also recline to a comfortable angle. There’s a little table that folds out and two cup holders. Traveling light, I have room for my bag on one of the seats but other passengers have their suitcases on a luggage cart in the downstairs part of the train. When it was time to sleep, the porter pulled down the upper bunk for me (the seats also can become a bunk) and I climbed up into my womb-like sleeping space. I did have a moment when I wondered if I’d be able to get back down again. I slept surprisingly well, rocking with the motion of the train. I woke up a couple of times when the train stopped but it was the call to breakfast in the dining car that really got me going.

Breakfast is the one meal when you can just stop by. Lunch and dinner is by reservation (meals are included in the price of a sleeper). Tables are set for 4 so a solo diner like me gets to meet other passengers. At dinner, I met Bob who is a train aficionado traveling all around the country including in a private car from L.A. to Portland. My breakfast companions got on the train at 3 a.m. from their homes in Kansas and are going to the balloon festival in Albuquerque (another thing for the bucket list).

The terrain changed dramatically overnight from the dried up corn fields of Illinois (still 80 degrees there!) to the high desert of southern Kansas and Colorado. I saw a huge prairie dog field during breakfast and Pike’s Peak with snow on top not long afterward. As the day progressed, I saw flat land, rolling hills, climbed switchbacks up some mountains and saw a variety of desert landscapes.

The weather varied too from a sunny rest stop in LaJunta, Colorado where we could get out and stretch out legs to a cold and rainy stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I got off just long enough to see the vendor’s wares and buy a bar of homemade soap.

At dinner tonight, I was seated with Edith for the 3rd meal (dinner last night, lunch and dinner today). We discovered lots of similarities. We are both from New England, both drink milk with dinner, are both teachers (she’s a retired biology professor), both love to travel (she has been to every continent) and we both have birthdays this weekend. In this era of people plugged into their electronic devices,it was such a pleasure to meet and converse with such an interesting woman. She will be turning 87 tomorrow. I hope I can have a similar story at her age.



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1 Comment

  1. Phyllis Biegun

     /  October 9, 2011

    I can just picture it – sounds wonderful!


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