Last Friday, I boarded Amtrak’s Vermonter and headed to Penn Station.
It was a great way for a slow-living homebody to travel.
The train isn’t the fastest way to get to New York City, and it’s certainly not the least expensive, but it’s so much nicer than the alternatives of driving or taking the bus.
Even though I once lived in Manhattan and then commuted by car from Vermont to New York, I no longer like to drive in any city. It takes too much concentration. Urban driving requires all my bandwidth. I’d rather drive on Vermont’s empty highways and let my mind wander on cruise control.
The bus is a step up from driving myself, but it stinks of diesel and is vulnerable to traffic. And I’d have to drive more than an hour to catch a bus, and then pay for parking. I can catch the train Brattleboro, twenty minutes from home, where I can park the car for five dollars a day and walk to the station.
Besides, I like the train.
I like the way the rhythm of the wheels and the sway the carriage mimic the motion of walking, something I do all the time not just for exercise, but also for mental health.
The train is also relatively spacious. It’s possible to stand up and walk the aisle. Had I cared to, I could have strolled down to the café car and bought a snack.
I stayed in my seat and worked.
I brought a hardcopy of the novel I’m revising, and I spent the five-hour trip rereading it, correcting all the typos I managed to insert even as I cut 40,000 words.
I was prepared with ear buds to protect myself from talkers, had I had a voluble seat partner, but I had both a window and aisle to myself.
Separated from place and with my phone turned off, I concentrated in that liminal space between here and there. It was a productive five hours.
I wish we had even better passenger service, like the TGV they have in France, which travels long distances at high speed. If we had high-speed trains, I’d ride the rails to California.
Trains are good, but walking is best. I’ll be co-hosting Women Walking & Writing toward Wisdom, an all-day WALKshop, on November 4, 2017. Discounted Early-Bird registration ends October 7 and space is limited. Learn more and register.
Mary McCallum says
I’ve taken that train often and agree–though it costs more and takes longer, it’s a lovely way to get from here to there. Mostly I read and enjoy just staring out the window as the countryside flies by.
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Thanks for reading the post and commenting!
I love train travel too, just watching life from the tracks and being lulled by the train’s rhythm. I grew up in a house very close to railway lines (the window panes rattled when trains went by) and it was so comforting to hear the trains at night when I couldn’t sleep. Thankfully I sleep much better these days, but occasional night wakes are soon solved by listening to trains on youtube!
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Yes! My parents once lived in a house where they could hear both the highway (constant, random) and the train (intermittent, discreet); the highway was white noise and the train a signal that all was right with the world. ~Hadn’t thought of listening to trains on Youtube for insomnia, though I may give it a try. Thanks for the tip!