Thursday, April 9, 2009

Riding the Rails

While on vacation, Jon Carroll did something unusual; he took the train. The contrasts with flying were obvious, and not limited to altitude.

I had forgotten how much I liked taking the train. For one thing, Amtrak has not heard of the Great Shoe Threat. Believe it or not, you can get right on the train - a train that is crossing international boundaries - without once taking off your shoes.

We arrived at our train shod and cheerful and settled into our seats, with oodles of legroom and lots of overhead storage. At no time did anyone say to us, "In the unlikely event of a water landing ...," nor were we required to watch a video about safety features. The conductors were large older men, and they were not dressed stylishly, and they did not smile unless something amusing happened. It wasn't one of those vending-machine trains, either - there was a guy behind a counter, and he sold sandwiches and drinks, and there were tables to sit at and everything.

Kids waved at us as we passed through small towns along the route. I waved back. That's something that happens rarely on airplanes.