Some Observations While On the Road.

I am in Los Angeles heading for Connecticut where I will be delivering the eulogy for my brother-in-law, the lucky man who married my sister.

(A brief word of advice should you be asked to perform this service for another member of your family: think twice; there are pitfalls, of course, but I found the writing itself to be very difficult. The pressure you feel to “get it right” is immense.)

My flight arrived here well into the end of the day since the West Coast is three hours ahead of Hawaii. And, as is my usual habit, I am staying at the Hilton here at LAX, where as usual I ask for a room with a view of one of the runways.

Spend ten minutes or so taking in that view and you will just begin to realize the immensity of the aviation industry.

A jet aircraft, each carrying several hundred people, is taking off from that runway every 90 seconds. This is goes on seven days a week, not quite around the clock.

And just out of sight on another side of this building, there is another runway where planes are landing at the same rate: one every 90 seconds.

I tried working out the numbers to estimate how many of those passengers are heading for destinations that are just a 90-minute flight away, but it’s been too long and the numbers are so huge that the point is obvious: there is a serious need for passenger rail in this country.

I’ll be leaving the hotel in an hour, heading for Los Angeles Union Station. I’ll board the Southwest Chief at 6:00 p.m. and an hour later, I will be having dinner with three fellow passengers in the dining car.  I’ll spend the following night having a brief reunion in Santa Fe with a fraternity brother I haven’t seen in more than 60 years.

Then it’s on to Chicago and another overnight train—the Lakeshore Limited—to Connecticut for services to help us all say good-by to my brother-in-law.

It did occur ro me that this mission is just one more reason to take the train: you don’t want to rush into an event like this one.