I hear that train a coming.
If you do follow me online or you have signed up for my email list you then you know that I performed at the LAUNCH Music Festival in Pennsylvania. I had to admit it was a hard decision to make on whether or not to go. One, because it’s expensive and recently the company I work for closed their doors and secondly, I had a show the very next day in Washington State. So, I sat down and looked at all my options on how I could afford to get to the show and not spend all of my money I had saved up! I ended up buying a train ticket to Lancaster, PA and booking a flight back home. Here is how the train went…
*Note my writing jumps from past to present *
The train was expect to arrive 9:42 PM, which meant I needed to be there a little after 9:00 to have a cushion incase the train showed up early. When 9:42 came around there was no train in sight! I won’t lie; I was starting to panic a little. I checked out my ticket and looked at the train times with a sigh of relief; it said my train was running 30 minutes late. However, when 10:15 came around and the train wasn’t there yet I checked out its time frame again and it was now running 40 min late. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with the train and if it was a good idea to get on it. I decided to wait until 11:00PM after that I was going to head home. While waiting, a stranger came up to me to ask for the time but at 10:30 a night I figured I should keep my distance and just pointed to the big clock by the train station. Finally, at 10:52 (an hour and ten minutes after the scheduled arrival time) the train showed up. I grabbed my stuff, presented my ticket, and boarded the train. I was lucky to find a seat by itself and was able to sprawl out on the chairs. I tell you what though, sleeping upright is not a comfortable task and I was glad I brought my sweater and scarf to use as a pillow.
After getting comfortable and falling asleep, I woke up to the sound of the conductor at 7:30 AM announcing that the breakfast cart was now open and our first stop in Montana was about to happen. I rode through Glacier Park which was awe inspiring! After that, which was about 11:00 AM, Montana was as flat as counter-top and on top of that, it was very dry and desolate. I watched as we passed ghost towns and cattle farms stretched across miles of empty land. I now know why they call it “big sky Montana”. I felt as if I was riding a train though our Wild West history. On a side note, if you’ve ever watched Hell on Wheels I imagine you would feel the same way as well riding though Montana. It wasn’t until 9:15 PM did the train actually get through Montana; I never knew how huge Montana was until now.
I had heard North Dakota had an oil find and that business was booming but I needed to see it with my own eyes to understand how big this industry really had gotten. The towns that I had seen were far and wide from each other. You’ll actually see more oil tankers and drills than houses. I did see an oil plant (I’m not positive what the official name was) all on its own, which is different for me because I’ve seen them next to towns like in Yakima, WA. I’ve seen a few in Texas where they are right off the highway and next to towns and cities. There wasn’t much to see other than that.
When I fell asleep I must have missed a few cities because the conductor announced the breakfast cart was opening and that our next stop would be in Minneapolis. I noticed a body of water and was informed that it was the Mississippi River. The conductor gave us a little info tour of the Mississippi River and how there are 29 river containers (much like damns) that help the river stay the way it is and not make new river veins and probably flood areas. On the trip the train took 4 bridges over it.
*A little side story during my time in the twin cities. I had to use the bathroom and went to open the first door only to find someone behind the door occupying the room. I quickly shut the door and went to the next door making sure to knock on the door. When I was in the restroom I heard one of the train assistants laugh at the guy who was in the room I had opened on saying “did you forget to close the door?” I felt a little embarrassed but the guy told me “it’s all good I was the one who forgot to lock the door.”*
There is a Hooderites Colony close to where I live, but Wisconsin must be the capitol. I’ve seen so many ladies and gentleman dressed up in wool clothes, straw hats, and the men had beards that must have taken years to grow. Not that I was starring or anything, I just haven’t really seen very many people like them before so my mind took note of how many hooderites came on the train. In case you were wondering it was a lot.
It’s crazy how most of the middle states look like Grant County, WA. I would see a town the train was passing and caught myself making comparisons like: This reminds me of George or Odessa. There is definitely a lot of room for people to explore in America.
*A little side note, as I started writing this part of the blog I realized I had lost my stylist pen, I asked the attendants, people around me, and checked my area but I have come to the realization that I have lost the pen for good. *
My first train transition was in Chicago. Unfortunately, I ran out of peanut butter and jelly and bread so I broke down and bought some food. I read somewhere that when you’re on the road its really good to try to buy healthy food. Mostly because you don’t have a lot of exercise time and healthy food is always the best choice. I bought a Chicken Cesar salad and a Penne Pasta. After I finished I had about 2 hours of waiting until my train. In the waiting room, the police were called when a man became unresponsive! Soon they brought in a stretcher and had the police dogs do a walk through. I found this interesting because any other train station no one checks your luggage, no metal detectors, scanners, you don’t have to take your shoes off, and you can bring 2 bags and 1 carry on. So if you think about it, taking the train isn’t all that bad it’s just a lot slower than a plane! Around 5:00 PM I started to get worried because every train had a gate assignment except mine. I later found out that whoever was in charge of working the monitor just didn’t put it up because I looked around and found the gate where I needed to be on one of the plastic caller boards. Also, another cool tidbit about most train stations is they are all really cool/pretty looking. They’re designed to look like fancy 1950’s train stations. There is marble everywhere. Chicago has this great hall that they were working on fixing or updating. It was all white marble and kind of like a Roman Cathedral with arches and pillars and a huge water fountain.
Anyway, I make my connection and was assigned a seat. At first, I was kind of upset because I was assigned next to someone this time. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to sleep on a train to begin with and then being confined to one seat and not being able to stretch out. It’s terribly uncomfortable! I heard over the speaker that the lounge cart would be open until 12P, so I went there and called my girlfriend and family. While talking to them, I overheard these two guys who were talking about whose probation officer was cooler. One said “yeah, mine’s great but I hope I don’t get tested when I get home right away”. Another lady next to me was sipping on a bottle of cough syrup just passing the time, I suppose. I tried to buy something to drink but the cafe was closed so I went back to my seat. Luckily, the guy next to me was getting off on a stop at 10PM so I was eventually able to get to stretch out. I took a Tylenol PM and went to sleep.
Not a lot of excitement in Pittsburgh. I arrived at the station at 5AM and had another 2 hour wait until the next train. I did my new daily ritual which consisted of scrubbing myself down with body wipes (did I mention trains don’t have showers?), brushed my teeth, and used the dry shampoo to convince myself that I was somewhat clean. I also bought body spray deodorant and used it all over just in case. I didn’t want to smell off putting if I ended up sitting by another person. In the bathroom, where I was brushing my teeth, I made friends with this cool guy brushing his teeth also and we kind of bragged about who had gone without a shower longer. It made me smile knowing someone else was in the same boat as me. At 7 AM I boarded the next train and basically slept until my stop in Lancaster.
Thank you for reading my post about my train excursion. Make sure to read the rest of the story called LAUNCH Music Festival. 🙂