While Laurie is already on the West Coast (she had a wedding there this weekend), I am just starting my trip to our first stop: Seattle. I’m travelling cross country by train, which I’ve been doing pretty frequently for the past 12 years — in fact, the very first time I ever did was for the book tour for the first BUST book, back in 1999.
Anyway, the first part of this 3-day journey is an overnite train trip from NYC to Chicago — all of Amtrak’s trains that go to cities on the West Coast (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles) originate in that windy city. The ride is an easy one – you leave Pennsylvania station ’round a quarter to four (yes, 3:45 is exactly when the Lake Shore Limited departs). You settle into your room (if you’re lucky enough to have one, which I am), and look out the window as the train winds its way North, right along the Hudson river. Eventually, the train heads Northwest towards Chicago, arriving there at around 10am the following morning.
In fact, if you’ve ever seen “North by Northwest,” the train that Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint travel on is following this exact same route — New York to Chicago along the Hudson river. They even got the shot out of the window right.
My sleeper’s pretty roomy, with it’s own bathroom/shower, sink, and couch (the couch converts to a bed over nite). Although it’s not quite as glamorous as the one that Eva Marie Saint travels in (and neither am I).
Still, I am able to stretch out on the couch and read, just like she does.
Later on in the evening I head toward the diner (all meals are included in the price of the sleeper car), where I eat crab cakes and have pleasant dinner conversation with a nice air force medic who, like me, loves to travel by train. And also, who, like me, is not very fond of flying. Which, really, is a surprising thing to hear from someone who’s in the air force.
(above: not me or the air force guy. He did share with me, however, that his wife is a distant distant distant cousin of Cary Grant.)
After dinner, I head back to my room to make a cup of coffee, and settle in to watch a DVD on my computer. Since we’re experiencing Snowtober around these parts (freakish east coast snow storm much earlier in the season than normal) today’s scenery was pretty spectacular. Oh, and by the way, I’m afraid anyone who was planning to fly to Chicago today from NYC wasn’t going anywhere, because of the weather. The train, however, can make it through sleet and snow and pouring rain. It’s a big giant hulking piece of steel and, like the honey badger, it don’t care. It soldiers on.