A train-wreck of an idea?

I like to travel. This should not come as a shock to most of you, but for me, I'm learning the joy of the experience is not solely in the destination but in the adventure of getting there. This has become even more apparent to me in the last couple of years as A and I have become MUCH more well-versed in traveling together. While I was all "Speedy Gonazalez" to get places, he was more of a slow-moving creature, readily stopping multiple times for coffee, snacks and bathroom breaks (I know the abundance of stops for the first two causes the abundance of stops for #3. That's why I liked to stay starched and parched and plow on through).

However, since getting married I've mellowed. I no longer feel this insatiable drive to "beat" my last trip time. I'm all for breaks where we languish in Barnes and Noble, stretching our legs and getting some coffee. After a lifetime of long baseball trips in the car with no say as to the schedule, A has the art of taking trips at our pace down. And I like it. After months of impatience at how slow our progress was when we were driving somewhere, I've started to recognize the beauty of traveling together, making memories as we go and setting a decent pace. I don't feel the rush to get places like I did, so I'm A-Ok to stop for bathroom breaks when other people (or I) need them. There's no need to get stomach cramps just for a ten-minute-earlier arrival. That's just crazy. Furthermore, I don't like to be separated from him for too long - even if the destination is amazing. I think it's part of that whole "become one flesh" thing. When one of us has to be gone for a few days or more, it is about as fun for me as someone trying to pull my arm from my torso. Again - one flesh. Neither feels good.

So, all that to say, next week A will be working in Charleston. Originally, we were both going to drive down together (since we're such good travel partners now and since it would be six days apart) but then his work-shift got extended an extra two days - time I can't take off from my job right now. So...that left us brainstorming. Frequent flyer miles? Drive both cars down separately? Greyhound? A train?!

Like most world-travelers (do you like how I made myself sound like such a travel snob right there?), I am not unaccustomed to train-travel. In fact, one of my most memorable moments in Scotland involved a train, a toilet seat and some sheep...but I digress. I like trains. I like the ability to use the bathroom while still progressing and the option to read, watch movies or nap without worrying about my safety. I've met interesting people on them and have enjoyed being able to see the scenery. Until trying to figure out how to get down to Charleston cheaply, though, it's never really occurred to me to test out the waters of domestic train-travel with Amtrak.

Something about train travel has always seemed kind of romantic and nostalgic. I attribute it to the fact that I was that kid that read lots of historical fiction about the beginnings of the railroad, and I'm still fascinated by it. Go ahead and call me a nerd - I'll own it. So, in my head, thinking about taking the train to Charleston, I have visions of me with my camera, a steamer trunk and a jaunty little hat climbing aboard the Palmetto for a pioneer adventure.

Buuuuut, I know that's not reality. Trains don't look like they used to. I don't think this one has a dining car, or a coal engine or even the ability to make that "chug, chug, chug" noise of my dreams. These days, I know trains are a lot less mahogany wood and a lot more bright steel. The sepia-tones and steam-stacks of my imagination have been replaced by speedy silver bullets. Plus, I own neither a steamer trunk NOR a jaunty little hat. And yet....I'm really, really tempted to hop on a train next week by myself and take a trip to Charleston. In my head, it looks like a grand adventure, but A always tells me I romanticize ideas that shouldn't be.

So what are your thoughts? Yay or nay to a day trip on the Amtrak Palmetto to Charleston? Do you have experience with Amtrak? Recommendations or warnings? I'd love to know if I'm the only one who thinks that for $65 this could be a fantastic journey, or if I'm the only one who thinks traveling Amtrak by myself would be a train-wreck of an idea!



Anonymous said...

I've only ever taken a train ride in Europe, so I can't really give you first-hand advice about American trains BUT do you ever watch Sex and the City??? (I know, I'm a sinner, lol) There was an episode where Carrie and Samantha take a train to LA, it's hilarious! They had all the same fantasies you have and it ended up being a complete nightmare. Sooo...I'm just saying. BUT, a train ride from NY to LA sounds like a train wreck of an idea, not so much with a train ride from Raleigh to Charleston. I say, go for it. If anything it'll make a great blog post!

Michelle said...

Yeah, I also have never taken a train in the States, but I love trains. I'm with you...it's great to not have to pay attention to the road! I say go for it!

Matt and Lindsay Bledsoe said...

Wow you are one busy girl! Sounds like you're having fun though. :) I think it would be so neat to ride on a train, I would think it would be safe too.

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