Slow Travel

train.me_.picThis week I went to visit my mother in Colorado. I live in California. The quick thing to go was fly. But I had a better idea. I took the train. It was nostalgic for me. When I was a little girl we took the train to Grandma’s house all the time. This trip I traveled on the Amtrak California Zephyr. What a treat! Yes it took me two days to make a journey I could do in an afternoon by plane. But the chance to slow down, relax, and think—to savor travel rather than endure it—was a welcome change.

train.red_.picSlowing down on the train has a lot to offer. First of all I booked a sleeper car. I had room to stretch out, and overnight the two seats turned into a bed. While we crossed the desert at night I read for a while and then turned out my light to sleep.

train.bluesky.picMeals are included with the price of the sleeper car. Dining on the train is a community event. I was a single passenger. Every table seats four. Time to meet some new friends. On the train everyone asks, “Where are you going?” and “Who or what are you going to see?” One of my tablemates had been to Seattle to see a museum exhibit, another to San Francisco for a brother’s funeral, and a third was going to Reno to see the grandkids. It’s pleasant to swap travel stories. No rush to leave the table.

Taking in the scenery was one of the best parts of the trip. There was plenty of time to enjoy it. The best views were in the observation car. The seats are pointed to the windows, the roof is clear, and the company is lively. When someone saw a herd of sheep off to the right side of our train, there was a whoop of excitement as we all looked. A few quick passengers got pictures. I also got a kick out of watching the train take a bend in the track. Staring out the window I could see the three engines pulling our thirteen-car train.

train.dinner.picThe sounds of the train are something I love, too. There’s the distinctive blast of the horns as we headed through towns or pull into stations, and the click of steel wheels on rails. I also like the rock and sway of the train. It can make walking a challenge, but it lulled me to sleep at bedtime.

train.lake_.picOf course I brought my knitting on board. I had a cowl, a scarf, and a sweater to keep me busy. There are miles to fill watching the landscape roll by or chatting with folks in the lounge car. Stitch by stitch I watched California turn to Nevada, ease into Utah and then become Colorado. My cowl grew on the needles. And I found a sock knitter next to me in the observation car!

There are views from the train you can’t get any other way. I peeked in backyards. I came out of tunnels looking down into valleys. Snow-covered mountains and jagged canyon walls. We traveled by ranches. I watched herds of cattle razing, saw horses in their carrels, and sheep out to pasture. They all reminded me of a slower life, more in tune to the rhythms of nature and seasons.

So the next time you set out to go from here to there, consider taking the slow way. Take a walk to the post office or store or next errand you have to run. Slow down your rushing around. And the next time you have to travel across state lines consider taking the train.

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Lisa Bogart (64 Posts)

Lisa Bogart. Lisa is a movie-loving, book-reading, sweater-knitting, cookie-baking, world-traveling woman. She is also the author of Knit With Love, Stories to Warm a Knitters Heart. She won the Guideposts Writers Workshop in 2010. These days Lisa works part time at Piedmont Yarn in Oakland, CA. And she loves nothing better than writing all morning, knitting all afternoon, and watching a movie with hubby in the evening. You can find Lisa online at LisaBogart.com.


Comments

  1. Really nice post. 🙂 Me too, I love travelling by train! You can really enjoy the time and relax. Usually, I’ll bring a book and something to work with me. And of course my camera! You never know what you’ll see on a train ride.

    Have a nice day!
    Jola

  2. My Colorado based best friend took the train to San Diego and loved it; the trip back seemed much longer as the train climbed the mountains. I have taken a train from San Diego to Eugene OR and loved it! I dream of doing the cross Canada train trip some fall.

  3. I was surprised by how many regulars I met on the train. Folks who think train first and only fly in an emergency.

    And like you Jola I had a good book and my camera. Though mostly I knit in the observation car. Loved it!

  4. These pictures are stunning, Lisa! I love them. 🙂

    I took the Amtrak a few weeks ago, but it was only a 12-hour ride.

  5. And those pictures were just taken with my phone. The scenery is that great, even a little phone can give you a taste of how pretty it was.

  6. Oh Lisa. I never, in a million years, considered that mode of transportation. I don’t know why, just never crossed my mind. You have painted a picture I will soon NOT forget, as my next adventure may just be a train. Thank you for your “birds-eye-view” of this wonderful way to travel. And by the way, call next time. I’d love to meet you.

  7. Oh Deb! It’s a great way to travel. By all means give it a try. And I am sorry there was no time to say hi this trip. So busy helping mom clean out. Next time I’ll take it slow and come by! I’d love to meet you too!

  8. Sherry Glover says:

    My husband and I love traveling by train. We want to take a trip across America, but in the summer time. You look soooooo cold. Now for me I am a warm weather person. I’m live in California also.

  9. Sherry, I live in California too actually! But I’m a mid-west girl at heart. I love the winter. I was glad to step off the train to stretch my legs and walk in the cold air, it can get stuffy on the train. However you are right I was cold! So much better to take pictures of the snow than to scrap it off my windshield! teehee Summer train travel would be great….go for it!

  10. What is a “carrel”?

  11. I loved traveling on the train!!

  12. How about countries which it’s railways are virtually dominated by the high speed one like in Germany or Japan?

    • True there are countries where train travel is high speed. But I still think it’s romantic to travel by rail you see more than if you fly over the country to get where you are going. And leaving the “driving” to someone else frees me up to relax, even at high speeds. Have you taken high speed rail? What did you think?

      • Not yet, but my country (Indonesia) now constructing it’s first line since 2016, Jakarta-Bandung.

        And I have not yet taken a regular train travel to several destination in Java and Sumatera (the only 2 islands in Indonesia with rail systems). I looked for that, through (both regular and HSR).

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