Monday, May 18, 2015

On a Train

Greetings from somewhere between Williston, ND and Wolf Point, MT. I've been en route from DC to Seattle since Saturday afternoon. It's an interesting place to be - on a train for days, glued to a literal window to the outside world. It's also not the most efficient way to travel across the US, in terms of time, pulling over and waiting for freight trains or 'our sister train' heading east to pass. And unlike the Western Europeans, we are working with rail technology that restricts speed to less than 80 mph (let the Amtrak crash last Tuesday be a warning to speeding with the current system). And yet our government may have just voted to slash the infrastructure budget, leaving the likelihood of an updated faster and safer railway more for the imagination. At this point, I suppose it is best to embrace our old school ways here, our four hour delays, and just enjoy the luxury of time. No place to be, no place to go.
In all this not going anywhere, it's been interesting to observe the change in landscape, and even to contemplate what it must have been like when the first transcontinental railroad made its voyage (more buffalos, I'd assume). We've made our way through forests and woods, across the great Mississippi River valley, and to the plains of the central states. We slept to vibrant purple and red skies, and woke to a white dusting on the ground and flurries in the air. Newly disked fields and acres of pasture now seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. It's a big country, to say the least. But it is quite a wonder to watch it pass by. Looking forward to Glacier National Park, though it may be too dark to see much, and then home sweet home on the morrow. 

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