Taking the train

I just took the train from California to DC. There were others taking the train from coast to coast, though not so many of us. Of course, more people boarded in small towns, or where airplanes cost a lot.

I asked fellow passengers why they travel by train, except those obviously taking the kids on a visit of the US. The most common response was worry about airplanes. Second was a desire for a vacation, to relax into a vacation rather than going from a hectic life to a hectic vacation with a hectic airplane flight in between. Some mentioned costs, last minute trips by plane can be costly.

I wanted to see how I would do with a few days of travel, because I noted that so many around me seem to be tied to cell phones and busy schedules. I was busy enough for long enough before leaving that sitting down in the train and looking at the view was a joy. Normally I like to walk several miles a day, and just sitting isn’t restful. (There now are several smoke stops, where people frantically pile out of the train to puff away. I could walk short distances during these stops. Are heavy smokers forced to drive in today’s culture?)

Several people have told me recently that they prefer trains and buses because one can actually meet real people, on planes we don’t talk to one another.

One of the difficulties we face in giving up our current way of living, which is very carbon intensive, is the resentment of time getting there and time returning home. Yet I remember reading somewhere that if we think of dishes as a task to finish before we get to our real life, we miss the joy of doing the dishes.

I don’t know what I learned about my own ability to schedule more time for travel, more time for contemplation and meeting strangers. Before this trip, I mostly took Greyhound for trips of less than 24 hours, and flew for longer trips. Perhaps I can survive the longer time untethered from either my home or my “destination”. Perhaps living more slowly can be part of my destination.

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