Some of Us Get It. Some Never Will.
My passion for train travel goes back to the late 1940s. My grandparents had a winter house near Ft. Myers, Florida, and a visit with them over Spring break was a grand adventure. It meant traveling south from Hartford to New York’s Grand Central Terminal, then catching a cab for the ride across town to Pennsylvania Station. From there to Fort Myers was about a 24-hour ride.
I was probably just eight or nine, and have dim memories only. I do know that we were booked in a sleeper and our accommodations seemed to me at the time to be wonderfully posh. I had to sit facing forward where, every so often, I caught a glimpse of the locomotive up ahead.
Any train ride was an adventure for me, but the trip to Fort Myers was really special because we went to sleep in the North and we woke up in the South. We knew that for a fact because there were actual palm trees whizzing by when we woke up and peered out the window in the morning.
I was the oldest kid and was always assigned to the upper berth, which I took as a kind of privilege of rank. On one of our trips, I scrambled up and was thrilled to find a small window and I lay awake for several hours soaking up the sights and sounds as we whizzed through small towns and across country roads, with flashing red lights and clanging bells that changed pitch as we thundered by.
The thing is, I still love the whole experience of long-distance train travel … all those same sights and sounds, but with the added pleasure of meeting people over meals in the dining car or while relaxing in the lounge car. And I pity those who miss out on the experience opting to fly because the train takes longer.
Strange, isn’t it? The reason they don’t is the reason I do.