Have you ever traveled by train?
My first trip with with my Sweetie (my mom's mom). This was fitting as she was the one who had told me the most about train travel. As a girl she used to ride the train between Houston and New Orleans.
I love the photo above of the ceiling fans all in a row in this train car. It makes me think of the grand era of train travel in this country.
My first trip by train was from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA aboard Amtrak. Sweetie took my brother and I so that she could experience train travel as children just as she had as a girl. We had a grand time! We were on our way to visit my dad's parents and my parents met us there too after flying out. This was special time just my grandma and us. We had a sleeper car, ate our meals in the dining car and spent our days in the observation car mostly watching the changing countryside go by. We had made travel bingo games with our own drawings before we left and we joked that people must think we never got out when we exclaimed so enthusiastically over "a cow! a cow!" or "a windmill! a windmill!". I remember liking the trip very much. I remember stepping off the train just briefly somewhere in Arizona to stretch our legs at the station and that is the only time I've been to Arizona. I remember playing bingo. I getting all situated in our "home away from home" for the three day trip in our sleeping car. I am pretty sure I remember my little brother falling off the top bunk but I'm not sure. I remember the crowded hustle and bustle once we got off the train in LA. What a treasure to have those memories and to have had that time with my grandma.
Besides taking the trains at Disneyland and Astroworld on occasion, I suppose the next train trip I took was a whopping 24 hour trip from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Florence, Italy. I was a junior in college and part of my university's travel abroad semester in Florence. We flew into Amsterdam, spent a few days seeing the windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, Anne Frank's house, canals and museums before boarding a train that would take us to Florence.
We were advised that it would be a good idea to buy food ahead of time to take on the train with us as the food they would sell on board would be expensive. I bought food and as we were waiting in the train station, a bird flew over and POOPED ON MY BAG! How could he???? Gross! Luckily the food was safe but who wanted to carry around their food in a pooped on plastic bag? A friend had a gallon ziploc that they gave me which was fantastic and so I juggled my luggage for a semester and a bulging bag of food with no handles to loop over my arm. Oh well! At least I could eat.
My most vivid memories from that train trip with 39 other college students and 4 sponsors who were still mostly strangers but who would soon become friends were of waking up in the middle of the night in our little sleeping car with 6 bunks 3 stacked on top of each other on either side and feeling so, so very HOT! It felt as if we were *roasting* in that train car. We kept fiddling with the heater trying to get the thing to turn off. The boys in the next car started beating on the wall. This is all in the middle of the night. I decided to give up on sleep for the time being and went out into the small corridor. One of our professor's wives, Frankie, was there. She told me to be watching. I looked out the window and very soon, before my eyes came one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. There in the darkness with snow coming down was the Cologne cathedral! Magnificent!
Sometime the next day we arrived at SMN! Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence became one of the places that has had the greatest feeling of "home" to me over that semester. We would travel and see things and then come "home". When I went back to Italy two years later and pulled into Santa Maria Novella I was just amazed at how much it felt like home. Again in 2001 I experienced the same. What a blessing.
Have you traveled by train? Where have you been? Do you have any stories to tell?
all photos taken in Grapevine, TX of the vintage railroad