Saturday, September 3, 2011

LA to NYC, Three Days

And so it begins. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do one of these travel journals at all, but given that I decided to take a cross-country train on a whim, I reckon I can bang out a couple of words about the trip on a whim too.

I’m making a journey by rail from Los Angeles to New York City via Chicago, to meet my mum and sister both of whom I love and miss very much. And not just mum and Peenu, I’m going to see a f*ck-ton of people I love and haven’t seen in too damned long, so I’m really looking forward to this trip.

Observations so far:

1.    I got weird looks from people all the way from the sidewalk outside Union Station to the ticketing kiosk, and right up to the train itself. I’m still getting weird looks. Yes, lady in Seat 14, this means you. Stop giving me the heebie-jeebies, I’m thinking the same thing you are.

2.    This is going to be a lot more comfortable than I’d prepared for. I have everything I need with me (carry-on allowances are rather generous) and there’s electricity available to charge the gadgetry that I’m reliant on. For internet, I’m tethering my Macbook Pro to my iPad, which will have internet wherever it can grab signal.

3.    My Macbook is a beast. I have a couple of tabs open in Firefox, I’ve got this post going in Word and I’m editing a catalog of 16 RAW files in Lightroom and I have 8 hours of juice left. Awesome doesn’t quite begin to cover it.

4.    Train travel in the USA is clearly not being shunned, despite the system being utterly rubbish. A journey like this anywhere else in the ‘first world’ would be quick and painless by train. I guess with flying as cheap as it is, there’s no incentive to bother with good rail services but when oil prices go skyward (as they’re sure to), Americans will be struggling with overland travel while the rest of the developed world switches seamlessly to rail.

5.    I’m feeling terribly hot.

For the next two days, I will be living with a carriage full of strangers, with nothing but strangers to interact with in the train, at the stations we stop at and at Chicago, where I will have a couple of hours to while away before I go on to New York.

Those who know me will, I think, be as interested as I am to see how I handle the journey ahead of me. Before I left I told the few people who asked why the hell I was doing something this mental that “I just wanted to take a journey instead of flying to my destination” or something trite like that. I think in all honesty, I just wanted to push myself – throw myself into a situation that I’m highly unlikely to be comfortable in. Now why I would do that, I cannot say. Think of it like skydiving, only less awesome and much slower.

And now we’re moving. I’m going to grab my camera and wander around the train.

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