visit. by train.

I realize that for some train travel is a part of everyday life. I’m guessing that for those growing up in Europe, the Northeastern United States, or the suburbs of a major city riding a train excites you about as much as sitting in a car at rush hour traffic appeals to me. But boarding a train is a special occasion in my life. In fact, until 1999, my train experiences were limited to a second grade field trip, movie scenes, song lyrics, and stories from my grandparents.

It took a trip to Europe to reveal my love for trains. While overseas, I purchased a Young Persons Railcard for Britrail travel over 3 months and a 3 week Eurail pass. The train became my portal to the world, and I loved my travel time. Free from a steering wheel and responsibility, I wrote and read and played games with friends. I watched the landscape outside the window and the people across the aisle.

Ten years later, I had ridden trains through European cities, Peruvian mountains, and under the waters of the English Channel, but I had neglected the trains here in the states, opting for the independence of my own vehicle or the shortened travel time of flights. Finally, this summer, I found myself without a car and only 100 miles from my brother and sister-in-law. I jumped at the chance to take the train for the first time in some time – certainly the first time in the United States in decades. The affordable $11.00 fare made the choice even easier.  

Greensboro, NC Station

Greensboro, NC Station

The relatively short trip was a pleasant one, though according to the locals I was lucky to be riding this line, a more reliable one than others in the area. I arrived safely and on time along with my checked luggage. So Southerners, if in this economic climate you find yourself with more time and less money with which to travel, try the train.  

To help you, here is the very informative Amtrak website: www.amtrak.com

To inspire you, here are some new favorite train-related tunes.

“The Sandman, The Brakeman, and Me”
by Monsters of Folk (Conor Oberst, Yim Yames, M.Ward & Mike Mogis)

 (listen here)

The Brakeman is letting off some steam
This has to be the slowest train that I have ever seen.
And the Sandman’s waiting to deliver me my dream
Guess I’ll lay my head against my elbow and the window
Watch the wheels go, watch the wheels go

Roll on, roll on, old wheel train
Brakeman blow your whistle, throw your weight upon the chain
Make way, for whatever will be will be
between the Sandman, the Brakeman and me

And the Sandman’s waiting to deliver me my dream
deliver me my dream
deliver me my dream
today
Guess I’ll lay my head against my elbow and the window
Let my wheels go, let my wheels go

And roll on, roll on, old wheel train
Brakeman blow your whistle, throw your weight upon the chain
Make way, for whatever will be will be
between the Sandman, the Brakeman and me
And roll on, roll on, old wheel train
Brakeman blow your whistle, throw your weight upon the chain
Make way, for whatever will be will be
for the Sandman, the Brakeman and me

 

“Stop This Train”
by John Mayer

(listen here)

No I’m not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind but…
I just can’t sleep on this tonight
Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
But honestly won’t someone stop this train

Don’t know how else to say it, don’t want to see my parents go
One generation’s length away
From fighting life out on my own

Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly won’t someone stop this train

So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find away to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
He said turn 68, you’ll renegotiate
Don’t stop this train
Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in
Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we’ll never stop this train

See once in a while when it’s good
It’ll feel like it should
And they’re all still around
And you’re still safe and sound
And you don’t miss a thing
’til you cry when you’re driving away in the dark.

Singing stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take this speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
Cause now I see I’ll never stop this train

I’d love to know your favorite train tune. There are so many great ones, so post a comment!

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