You may remember a little (*cough* 53-hour) train trip I took from DC to Texas in December. I've been waiting until I sorted through some of my video to write more about it. Of course, if you follow me on twitter, you probably already saw my train travelogue. I took a similar trip a few years ago and loved it. It should then come as no surprise that I went into this trip completely romanticizing the journey.
Maybe it was because I'm almost ten years older or perhaps because the train was a lot more crowded, but it didn't turn out to be the inspiring trip that I expected. Despite the unexpected, there is always so much to take away. I've grown to love the Texas countryside after years of craving mountains, greenery, and trees.
I didn't realize it until I was midway through my trip, but one of the things I like most about trips like this is people watching. Trains are chock full of a variety of different characters. As I watched the way they interacted with each other, it occurred to me that I was developing plot lines around this not-so-merry band of travelers.
Spending as much time as possible in the observation and cafe cars, I left myself open to random conversations with my fellow travelers. The conversation that will stick with me most is an early morning chat over coffee with a Chicago nun on her way to West Virginia to visit her sister. Her demeanor was infectious, and her stories of bear spotting and dancing at midnight in a meadow are the reason I'd consider doing it all again.
Some of my favorite notes (made to myself on my phone) include:
"Love gained and lost. Plaid pajama pants. Smoke break relationships."
"In real life, people who hook up aren't always attractive. The unfortunate and downtrodden also seek solace in each other."
That last note might seem a little harsh, but you weren't witness to the things I was during the witching hour in the observation car.