Wednesday, November 28, 2012

training myself

I am on the road again.

Or, more accurately, I am on the tracks.  On an Amtrak train heading toward Olympia, Washington.

My house cleanup has not been as steady as I would have liked.  So unsteady that I have extended my Oregon stay to 9 December. 

Even with the extension, the house will not be ready to go on the market.

But I needed to make my way north.  I may -- or may not -- write further about that.

When I am in Europe, I use trains extensively.  I seldom do in the western section of The States.  Car travel is simply far more practical.

I must confess, though, I do love trains.  Not in the trendy left way where trains are seen as noble reactionary beasts doing battle with automobiles.  It is not a fair fight.  And without substantial infusions of taxpayers' money, there would be no fight at all.

For $54 (US), I get a very comfortable reclining seat in the business class car.  A wi-fi connection (that I am putting to good use right now).  And a closeup view of a portion of America I have always loved.

My love affair with passenger trains began in the mid-1950s when our family took the train from Portland to Detroit to buy a new Ford station wagon.  We then drove back to Powers briefly visiting sights along the way. 

My Dad was one of those drivers who saw driving as a start and a finish.  All of the stuff along the way was merely interference in getting where he wanted to go.  As a result, my memory of the middle section of America is a bit hazy.

In 1966 my parents sent me off on the train with a group of high school students to visit Boston, Salem, New York City, Washington, and Charlottesville.  Being 16 on a train without parents was the very essence of freedom.

Other than two trips between Seattle and Portland in the 1990s, that has been my history with the American passenger train system.  It is just enough to keep the romance alive.  Any more trips would make me realize train travel is nothing more than riding in a spacious Greyhound.

So, for those of you who are American taxpayers, thank you very much for the subsidy.  I am enjoying my trip.


norm said...

A sore subject for me. The trucks pay a road tax viva the fuel they consume, it goes to pay for fixing the ware and tear that they cause but the majority of that tax comes from the cars and they do little to no damage to the roads. The freight trains on the other hand pay for their road in full-no hidden tax funding to ease their way. If the trucks had to pay full price to use the highways( fix the damage they cause), there would be a whole lot more freight moved by rail. It is cheaper to move by rail but for the gas tax that cars chip into the highway fund to help keep the 18 wheel traffic crushing the road to bits. The gas tax distorts the equation.

The cash subsidy given the passenger trains is but a speck compared to what the trucks get in fuel tax from the driving public. Policy...

Steve Cotton said...

I need to keep you away from my mother. Having made our living from trucking, she has some rather strong feeling about railroads. Of course, the west has always felt far less friendly to rail than do easterners. Just another of our many regional divisions.

norm said...

It's more fear for me. The triple trailers scare the what-ever out of me. Just swaying in the wind here in the flat lands waiting to smash me and mine to bits. Give me an unguarded crossing anytime.

NWannabe said...

For me the rail is just a bunch of big flashing red lights that cause me to be late to work in the morning. Of course there is the occasional, still do not get how it happens, pedestrian that gets run over which stops the train for hours. TRAVEL BY TRAIN - novel idea at best..

Steve Cotton said...

I am toying with the idea of spending a month or two on Amtrak and centering m blog around the experience. Just a thought.

Shannon Casey said...

I find the idea of train travel rather romantic, although I have spent very little time on them. As a teenager I used to take the train from North Vancouver to Whistler mountain to ski, and years later, the Royal Hudson, an old steam engine that went from North Vancouver to Squamish for a dinner run. Pretty scenery, a lovely meal and a stop midway for dancing to big band music. I would also love to take the Copper Canyon train trip here in Mexico.

Steve Cotton said...

The Copper Canyon train is well worth doing. I did it in January. My friends in Olympia have resurrected thoughts of taking the train across Canada.