Riding The Train

This is a follow up piece to Melancholy Goodbye.  I wrote this the day I boarded the auto train with my pickup truck loaded with all my music and recording equipment and a few delicate items that I didn’t want to chance shipping in the moving container.

The day I have thought about for over three months is finally here.  It came three days later than expected but it is here.

I haven’t written in over a week due to the closing of the house sale and getting everything packed, moved or tossed prior to the sale.

I was supposed to leave on a Thursday via the auto train but due to a tropical storm/hurricane deciding to move across northern Florida and then up the east coast, my train ride was postponed not once but twice. But finally here I sit in the train station with two hours to kill.

Since I picked the 7:00 PM dinner reservation I decided I better eat something in the station even though I had a nice big breakfast with my wife, son, daughter and grandson before setting out for the train station in Lorton, Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C..

The “café” had such a wonderful selection of overpriced prepackaged food, I decided to go with the sub that I believe was left over from the Nixon administration.  And in true government run fashion the “café” at the beginning of the day was already out of mayo packets so I choked down the sub with a generous portion of mustard.

Anyway I thought I would write some thoughts on this somewhat new experience of taking the auto train, which I am sure is just the first of many more new experiences to come in my life.

I say somewhat new because I have used the services of Amtrak one other time in my life.

Forty years ago I took a train from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg. I was living alone in Pittsburgh playing in a band and I didn’t own a car.  I wanted to get back to my hometown and the train seemed to fit the bill.

I don’t remember much about that trip but I do recall I boarded very, very early in the morning.  I remember the sun rising as I was traveling and I remember a 4 hour car trip (national speed limit was 55 mph back then) turned it into a six hour train ride.

Now I am about to board this train and have it be my home for the next seventeen hours.  My truck packed with all my drums, all my recording gear, my vintage guitar and my vintage amp is loaded on the train, at least I hope it is.

The train will be full.  The terminal waiting area is filling up quickly and the line of vehicles checking in still has not subsided with only an hour and a half to go before check in closes.

Well I have 16 to 17 hours to get some writing and thinking done.

After eight months of preparing for this day it still doesn’t feel like I am actually moving and changing my life in such a big way. It still feels like I am sitting in a terminal waiting to take a trip that will last for a couple of days and then I will return to my old life.

Footnote – The 16 to 17 hour train ride turned into a 21 hour train ride.  Some moron in North Carolina decided to play beat the train (not our train but one using the same tracks) at a crossing and lost.  We sat for hours waiting for the crash scene to be cleared.  Then just forty five minutes from our destination we had to stop and wait again as a new crew had to come onto the train since the train crew can only work a set number of hours.  But after a three day and 5 hour delay I finally got to my destination.  Then the best part was of the 300 and some odd cars on the train mine was one of the last ones off, so add about two more hours to the trip.  But I finally made it to my new life safe and sound and for that I am thankful.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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