Side note: It’s funny how people adapt to temperatures. 95 degrees is always hot and 20 degrees is always cold. In between, however, you will find people up North very comfortable in the forty degree area and people in the South loving the 90s. Alternatively, the North complains about the 90s and the South shivers in the 40s. Notwithstanding the wind, humidity, or lack of either, I hesitate to complain about temperatures between 40 degrees and 90 degrees. Maybe that’s because I live halfway between Texas and Minnesota, and because seasons seem right to me.
I have to admit I’m a little surprised about how nice the lounge car is. The seats are comfortable with tables and windows all around. The train sways as it ambles north, sometimes slowly, sometimes jostling. The passenger cars have lounge seats that recline with foot rests. You’ll find couples relaxing under blankets, lone travelers reading, looking at movies they have downloaded (no internet on board this train), or sleeping with arms folded and hats down for privacy.
I’m in the fifth of about seven cars. The train’s whistle seems a little distant, adding to the mood of this way of travel. About an hour and a half north of Temple, the landscape changes a bit with more plateaus, very small hills (more like large mounds) and a shrubby green trees. Even though there is not much change in the scenery, I’m rubber-necking from side to side. I have my Nikon with an 18-300mm lens at the ready just in case I see something interesting. I’ve always been an observer. Although I was an Air Force pilot for six years, I still like to sit by the window on an airliner, but those aisle seats are becoming more lucrative. They are great for those of us with small bladders.
The train just passed a farmer feeding a herd of aggressive goats. My first photo op, but I wasn’t quick enough.
The party at the table next to us was celebrating a birthday. We were regretting our restaurant choice, fearing what was ahead with this ‘Humpty Dumpty’ of a house, and tired from our 800 mile trip. Just as we were about to leave, all the waiters gathered around and started singing some version of happy birthday. Then, out of nowhere came the piercing clash of a Texas sized symbol. We both jumped out of our seats! It was the pinnacle of a disappointing day, the nadir of optimism.
Not yet two hours north of Temple, the terrain is again very flat, similar to central Illinois but with less farmland and more brush and pastures. Coming into the Ft. Worth suburbs are residential areas and the train crawls. Some homes are ramshackle and others appear to be very nice homes seeming out of place surrounded by vacant fields of brush. I see teens playing basketball in a park. It reminds me how I miss pick-up games of baseball when I was a kid.
Pulling out of Dallas now. An older Mexican lady, travelling alone, is talking up a storm to someone in Spanish on a speaker phone. It’s the only sound in the car outside the clicking of the tracks and train whistle. The sun has fallen to about five degrees above the horizon. We’ve passed the gleaming skyscrapers of downtown Dallas into an industrial area as we turn more northeasterly.
It’s been over an hour now and the Mexican lady is still talking loudly to the same person on her phone for all to hear. I was picking up the language by now. A blond-headed Amish girl is writing something feverishly two table down, rarely looking up. The terrain is still very flat allowing downtown Dallas to be seen for miles. We came to a highway paralleling our tracks. The cars were passing us up, although slowly as we headed for our next stop at Mineola, TX. The sun has just set on the flat purplish horizon slowly changing upwards to a pink, then light blue hue. My sightseeing will soon end and I hope to get into a book.
I’m considering eating in the Dining Car for the experience despite the gourmet restaurant prices. But they said we would have to share a table. I’m not anti-people but I’m not sure I want to get into a conversation. This is ‘me-time’ on the Eagle!
His family is not thrilled that he will be living so far away when he retires from the Army. We have been spoiled the last couple of years because he was able to visit home on long weekends and holidays, Ft. Campbell being only four hours by away by car. But we are all thrilled that he will finally be able to settle in one place and live the life he chooses. And what a nice place to visit!
I went back to the passenger car to do a little reading and found the worst seat on the train. A was able to get a little sleep, however, and woke up to light snow as we approached St. Louis. I enjoyed the time to think, the charm of train travel, and the opportunity to people-watch. I also enjoyed helping my son in his latest venture. The day I retired, I dedicated myself to helping others, but family first and foremost!
I'll be going back in a few weeks to see how I can help. I know Mike will do a great job. The house will look awesome!