Monday, May 19, 2014

Riding the Rails - North Carolina to New York City

This morning, I walked out of my hotel and three blocks to the Amtrak station, nestled beneath my backpack, roller bag clunking along the warming street, as the sun hovered above the whitewashed maze of furniture warehouses and showrooms that make up the main industry of the small city of High Point, North Carolina. 

At the train station, I joined six others waiting on the hard wooden benches. The steady whistle of the oncoming train heightened my excitement of the adventure of riding the rails north to New York City. 

Of all the forms of travel I've taken, exploring by train is one of my favorite. I'd like to think that riding a camel or an elephant would knock the train from it's number one spot, but since I've yet to ride either beast, the railroad remains on the top of the list.

There's a feeling of old time, 'go west' in traveling by train, harkening back to its history of steam-generated locomotives to the express trains and bullet trains that exist today. For me, the ease and comfort of sitting back and watching the world slip by one township and state at a time is much more satisfying than flying. Traveling by train, I feel like I'm a part of the movement experience, like my energy helps to propel the train forward; whereas by plane, and I do love flying too, despite being tucked in to cramped quarters, I definitely feel I'm a passenger along for the ride.

From passing large plantation-style houses on large acres of land to the homes and plots of land becoming smaller, my constant view is the green rush of aspen, spruce and pine trees, brown, flowing rivers and creeks and swaths of plowed land. Eventually, farmland and open spaces are taken over by all manner of industry and at first, the stark contrast assaults my senses, but before long, the "eyesores" become just another part of the scenery and the journey.

With just a few of us left on the trail, along for the long haul, the train enters New York's Penn Station under the setting sun, where I am once again enveloped into the arms of the familiar chaos of the city that I have come to love.

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