I’ve always had a fascination with trains. No, I’m not like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. I don’t know the name of each engine and I can’t tell you what each noise means. I simply like traveling on trains.
It goes back to my earliest memories of my grandfather. Now, he was a train fanatic. His basement, and then his garage, was filled with photos of trains, track nails that had long been removed and discarded along the tracks they once secured, and old conductor lamps that used oil to light the way when steam engines still ruled the rails. His family had a history of railroad work, and he had many memories of growing up in houses along the tracks – the plates and floors shaking as the engines roared past.
He’s the person who bought me my first train set. The person who took me to every model train show that was running. The person who taught me the joy of riding a steam engine with the smoke blowing past you. For him, trains were a symbol of freedom, and they brought him pure joy. To make it simple, trains were in his blood.
That brings me to where I am today – sitting on an Amtrak train as I roll down the rails toward Orlando, Florida. When I found out that I had to travel to Florida for work and that I needed to bring a lot of supplies, I jumped at the chance to take the train. I know, flying gets you there in about three to four hours, but the costs are crazy and I just didn’t feel like dealing with everyone traveling to see where the big mouse lives.
The total travel time to Florida from Boston is about 24 hours. If you’re in a hurry, this trip may be a little difficult. But, if you have some time to spare, this is a trip that can’t be beat.
If you’re on vacation, WHY NOT!? Vacation is all about taking it easy, and what better way to unwind than rolling down the rails and being rocked into relaxation. Just take the extra day or two of vacation, and use the opportunity to do the unthinkable…relax.
If you’re working, this is the way to go. You can spread out – the seats are much roomier and more comfortable than any that can be found on a plane. There’s room to work and relax when the work is done. No emptying bags to be scanned, removing your shoes, or flight delays because of some crazy person not liking the particular bag of pretzels they were given.
Rail travel in the U.S. gets a bad wrap. First of all, the more it’s used, the more value is seen in it. In turn, the more money is put toward not only maintaining the system, but upgrading it. To quote an old saying: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Secondly, this is NOT the grimy system of the 1970s. It’s clean!
In Europe, along with most other parts of the world, train travel isn’t considered a luxury or a special experience. It’s a way of life. It’s a daily lifeline for people to reach their destinations, bring their goods to market, and stay connected to the rest of the world. Sometimes we Americans forget, most people in the world don’t own or use cars. I’ve traveled by train in Europe and wouldn’t have it any other way.
No, I don’t have an endorsement deal with Amtrak. I’m also not an old-fashioned hobo – I just can’t eat beans out of a can. I’m simply a traveler who sees a golden opportunity for anyone who’s looking for an inexpensive and fun adventure that can be found close by, no matter where you are
The snows of winter are piling up, but many of us are already beginning to plan our spring and summer getaways. Do yourself a favor and include some rail travel in your itinerary. Just in case you need it, you can find Amtrak at www.amtrak.com.
The airlines certainly don’t need your money and you deserve to relax a bit. Now, excuse me as I go back to watching the world go by and getting some work done at the same time. What a great way to multitask!