Because of modern technology I am typedthese words—and subsequently uploaded them to this blog—as Ibarreled down train tracks at 60 mph on my way to NYC. This is one ofmy favorite train trips (from Buffalo to New York). It’s about 500miles and take just about the same time as it would to drive. Infact, it only takes a few hours longer than if you flew. A flight mayonly be an hour in the air, but considering you have to get to theairport at least an hour ahead and then find your way from theairport to the city, you easily consume 4 or 5 hours of time. Whereaswith the train I can arrive 15 minutes prior and it drops me offdirectly in midtown Manhattan. But the relaxing atmosphere of thetrain is worth it—to me—to add an extra few hours. A train isrelaxing to me in that I feel safe (yes, I know…trains wreck also),opposed to being in flight where I am always slightlynervous—especially when we hit turbulence. In a train I am able tosit back and watch the towns and countryside zip past. On thisparticular train route (as it travels east-to-west on it’s first legof the journey) the tracks hug the Erie Canal for much of the way,and then (as it turns south) rides the shoulder of the Hudson Riverinto New York City.
Bluntly said, traveling by train—inthis blogger’s opinion—is by far the most civilized way to travel.I can only think that this must have been what it was like to travelin times gone by, when the journey took time and was in fact asimportant as the destination itself.
But time is likely one of the fewthings that train travel today has in common with that of the past.Today, of course, there are outlets to plug in (or charge) any numberof your personal electronic devices. And what is relatively new (Ibelieve) is that the train is wireless…thus one is able to checktheir email, facebook, watch movies, and of course, update theirblog. But if there is an aspect of negative I have to mention itwould be the subject of on-board dining…or lack of it. In oldmovies there is always a dining car pictured where a person was ableto have an actual meal, this is not the case today. Sure, you canpurchase beverages and snacks, but any of the hot (microwaved) farethey offer is not only overpriced but also inedible. When I see (ormore specifically, smell) some poor soul—likely out ofdesperation—purchase a pizza or hot sandwich the unsavory aroma ofit wafting through the car quite literally turns my stomach. Thisbrings me to my next topic…how to eat on a train.
Said simply, to eat well on a train onemust do two things. The first is to plan ahead, and the second is tobring your meal with you. The journey to my destination is alwayseasier…I prepare some of my own food. On the return trip,thisusually entails picking up quality prepared food from Balducci’s orother reputable NY deli. Bottled water is a must, as are littlebottles of red wine. They of course sell both on board but with theexaggerated prices I find it just as easy—and more economical—tobring my own. The one thing I do purchase on board is coffee…it’snot too overpriced and is surprisingly good quality. Pictured aboveis what I prepared and ate for lunch today…a sandwich on homemadeEzekiel bread with hothouse tomato, NY State cheddar, raw onion,mesclun lettuce, and whole grain mustard. I also packed smallcontainer of roast spaghetti squash (which I marinated in balsamicvinegar and olive oil), a fresh clementine, and a small bag ofkettle-style potato chips. Red wine is out of view. This meal wasdelicious and as good and wholesome as any…and it cost me pennies(and just a small amount of time last night) to prepare.
In this day and age ofhyper-everything, sometimes I find it really good for myself to slowdown now-and-again. Sometimes the journey itself is indeed asimportant as the destination (and that, I suppose, is a really goodmetaphor for life itself). Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll pouranother glass of wine and get back to the movie I was watching.