trains · travel

Riding the rails!

I love traveling by train.  Once I discovered that I could take a train to Houston, it became my preferred method of travel!  Every year in June, I go to Houston for a family reunion.  I’ve tried driving, flying and traveling by train and the train is just more comfortable for me.  The trip takes quite a bit longer than any other method of travel but I love the scenery and the relaxing nature of the movement of the train.  I can take naps, read and walk around.  The people in the seats around me have always been friendly and I can choose to talk to them or not to talk to them.  As it is a rather long trip, we usually do some talking yet it isn’t so much that it feels like an invasion of privacy.

The United States has more miles of railroad track than any other country but this is not apparent when trying to schedule a trip.  For my trip to Houston, I have to catch the train in Birmingham (about 1.5 hours away) and travel from Birmingham to New Orleans where I have to get a hotel and stay overnight.  The following morning, I pick up the train in New Orleans and travel the rest of the way to Houston.  It is two full days of travel.  It would be helpful if one had more choices on which days to travel but there are only two days to choose from.  This is a huge limiting factor both on when I can travel and on how long I can stay.  And it seems like there are enough people to add more trips to the schedule; several legs of the trip were sold out.

Another place improvements could be made to passenger train travel in the U.S. is for Amtrak to make the website a little more user friendly.  I’m fairly adept at navigating websites and finding information on-line but Amtrak’s website is one of the most awkward I’ve ever used.  No matter how I massaged the request, the website would not display the round trip information.  There was no problem if I searched by the different legs of the trip, but no matter what I did, the website would not return a round trip option for purchase.  I finally bought two one-way tickets but I was left with a sense of frustration in dealing with Amtrak.  There is also no good way to find which days the trains run.  It is a case of guesswork and trial and error to complete trip requests.

This trip, as with trips I’ve previously taken, was a relaxing, leisurely trip while I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the country.  I’m now in Houston ready for the family reunion which is tomorrow.  It is so good to see everybody and this year there is the added bonus of having Lonnie and his kids here for the reunion.  This is a trip I look forward to every year and the train travel is the beginning of my unwinding for a few days.  I would like to have a little more time in Houston before heading back but the train home leaves on Tuesday.  So I’ll enjoy each moment as it comes and enjoy each person as I see them.  In fact, it might be the way to live every moment of my life…..

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