The train hugs the cliffs around a curve.

I’ve always enjoyed taking the train.  I grew up walking distance from the tracks.  I remember going to sleep to the train whistle as it passed in the night.  The train tracks were the shortcut to everywhere out of the neighborhood.  In grade school it was an adventure to walk the tracks to our local McDonalds.  In Junior high and high school we’d take the tracks from the suburbs into Minneapolis and catch a bus downtown.

I’ve ridden the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto.  I’ve ridden the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  I’ve had a Eurail pass and traveled through Holland, Germany and Switzerland (with a little stop in Austria just to say we’d been.)  I’ve taken the train from Edinburgh to Salisbury.  I’ve taken the train from New Delhi to Jaipur to Agra (are they still going by those names?)  I’ve taken the commuter train from NYC to DC.

The train we took to Montana probably looked a lot like this one built in the 1940’s.

My sisters don’t really remember the train ride we took to vacation at Glacier Park in Montana.  The old Empire builder was a little scary for a small girl walking between the cars and watching the rails go by underfoot.  I may remember the trip because I got stuck there.  The door was too heavy for me to open from the moving platform.  Luckily it wasn’t long before someone else came through.

We took the Empire builder again with a 3 year old special needs child.  Orion was particularly sensitive to noise so we went first class.  We had a lovely sleeper car for the trip all the way to Seattle.  This weekend Orion tried to convince everyone that he remembered it when we visited the historic Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway.

It was a beautiful day and Orion loves people and motion.  He talked to anyone who would listen about his “experience” on the rails.  It was a complicated day for the volunteers who run the restored line.  They got a call about a freight train coming through.  Since freight has priority on American tracks they had to move the train out of the way, which delayed our boarding time.  They also had a group of cyclists riding the train so when they moved the train back they parked to make it easy to load the bikes in the baggage car.

VIP in the baggage car.

Orion patiently waited until everyone had climbed aboard.  Then they moved the train again – just for us!  They had to get the box car we were riding in aligned with the platform so they could use the portable lift.  This was old fashioned technology – a hand crank!  I told Orion he must be a VIP.  It isn’t everyone who has a whole train moved just for them!

There are trains that I dream of taking.  The Orient Express from Paris into Asia Minor, the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan, the Queensland Rail across the outback all promise adventure and fantasy.  I probably look every year at the possibility of taking the Amtrak to New Orleans.

The old train depot




The thing about riding the train is that it really IS the Journey not the Destination.  It is in that spirit that we ride the historic train for an afternoon.  Not so much an adventure as a chance to sit and enjoy the scenery and dream.

cattail from the train


About lisaspiral

I've been writing and speaking about spirituality to small groups for years and am looking to expand my horizons. Hopefully this blog will inspire you to expand yours as well.

Posted on September 17, 2012, in Bio and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. What a wonderful trip! When my husband and I were in college in Chicago we often rode a train just about every day – commuter, elevated – but they were more of the destination variety. All three of my kids have a minor train obsession which has turned the commuter train we used to ride home to visit my parents into a journey rather than just a way to get to a destination.

    Some days I think I should plan a vacation with the family and travel by train.

    • That whole commuter thing makes it tough to be in the moment doesn’t it? Much easier when you’re going for fun. It’s expensive to travel by train in the US but when you start adding up plane tickets and make the train the vacation it looks a lot better.

  2. How wonderful that you love the journey as much–or more–than the destination, Lisa. That’s what it’s all about. By the way, my daughter and I took the trains around Europe twice in recent years, too. Did you ever ride a train and feel seasick afterwards like you were still moving on the train? P.S. Glad Orion got to be a VIP!

    • YES I have gotten that seasick feeling after riding the train, especially if I’ve been riding backwards for a long time. Trains are a good reminder about the journey/destination thing. I think the pace of actually taking awhile to get somewhere rather than being behind the wheel or flying is more humane.

  3. I like riding trains too, though mostly in Europe. We don’t really have any in the area in which I live, but if we did, I would travel that way often. Your enjoyment clearly is reflected in the descriptions of your travels. And by the way, the Orient Express is at the top of my list for train travel yet to be enjoyed. Someday…maybe…

  4. You’re lucky to be able to ride trains. Where I live, trains stopped running long before I was born, so I never got the chance to ride any. =[ But hopefully someday! It’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

  5. I thougt of you yesterday on the equinox. Hope you are well. I love trains. Didn’t ride them in Thailand, but took them a number of times the length of Vietnam–Saigon to Hanoi and back again–30 hours! I should be back to me regular blogging schedule Monday morning. About time, right?

    • Thanks for thinking of me. I’ve never been to Vietnam, but that’s quite a trek even on the train. I’ve missed your blogging and am looking forward to hearing about the bizarre.

      Hugs back!

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