I hate driving. In fact, if I could convince my family, I’d happily skip every interstate possible when we are traveling on vacation1. I don’t care about “getting there fast.” I care about “getting there non-stressed.” What good is rushing around if I’m a basket case when I arrive?
I will tolerate flying. I don’t much care for air travel, personally, but sometimes it’s the best method available when balancing time and cost. Still, when I travel by air I feel as though I alternate between the identities of “cattle” and “refugee.” The actual flying is ok, being above the clouds sparks my imagination. The rest of the time, however, it seems as though I’m not really wanted by the airport masters. Even with the wonder of the clouds inevitably wears thin. The experience of being cooped up in a metal tube, thousands of feet in the air, overcomes my fascination that I am thousands of feet in the air. I just want to land get on with things.
This past week, however, I travelled by train for the first time since I was in college. I am in love. Heading to the train station carries none of the incredible stress associated with an airport incursion 2. There is no taking off your shoes, or being threatened with mass radiating bombardment. There is no boarding by aisle number and struggling down a narrow track apparently meant for hobbits. There is simply a staircase, a ticket check, and a line to get on the train. And, if you are struggling, people actually help you. On the train I found the seats to be comfortable, and each row had full sized outlets and free wifi. Rather than being strapped to my chair I could get up and walk around, and even head up to the cafe car to get some refreshments or to stretch my legs. This gave the journey a more relaxed feel than air travel, which I appreciated. So much so that when our train got stuck behind a slow-moving freight train, and ended up being 45 minutes late, I found I didn’t care one bit.
For our trip, the timing was similar to the length of time it would take to drive but, and this is huge, without the stress. I have always wanted to take an overnight train across the country, my short jaunt down to Williamsburg only deepens this desire.