You Go Your Way; I’ll Go Mine.
Flying was once an adventure. Most of the time it was also a pleasure. Not any more. The airlines speak about the wonderful experience that is waiting for us on board. But when we actually are on board—after paying several hundred dollars for our ticket, plus, typically, $30 to check one bag—we discover our knees are pressed against the seat back in front of us and we’re in an elbow-shoving contest for use of the one arm rest between us and the guy in the next seat.
The airlines do have one—and only one—selling point: They may confine you to cramped conditions, but it’s the fastest way to get anywhere.
Here in Hawaii, inter-island flights are mercifully short—Honolulu to Maui, for example, is about 25 minutes. Flights to the mainland are longer, of course, and because of the almost constant winds blowing out of the west, flights TO Hawaii are longer than flights FROM here to the U.S. mainland.
* Honolulu to Seattle is 5 hours, 30 minutes; Seattle to Honolulu is six hours.
* Honolulu to JFK is 9 hours 40 minutes; JFK to Honolulu is an 11-hour flight.
Even at 500 miles-per-hour, however, Hawaii is the most remote populated spot on the globe. Once your passenger jet takes off from an airport on one of our islands, the closest airport is five hours away.
I’m planning a trip at the end of this month. It will include seven cities, Red Sox games in Minneapolis, Boston and Baltimore, and an opportunity to visit with family members. When you live 2500 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, our visits to family are probably less frequent than yours.
But here’s the thing: Once I reach the mainland and leave that damned aluminum tube, all my subsequent travel—and that means eight trains (six overnights), eight cities and more than 10,000 miles—will be by train. While I’m traveling, I’ll have privacy when I want it. I’ll be served three meals a day, wine with my dinner, and a nightcap in the lounge car if I’m so inclined. There will be fellow passengers to meet and chat with in a relaxed setting, and a comfortable bed to sleep in at night. And the entire time, the United States of America will be passing by right outside my window.
Why do I prefer to travel by train? That’s why!