To write about traveling by train is to force myself to choose what to say.
How do I reflect those long moments, minutes stretching slowly into hours, just sitting and staring out the window, hoping I will remember to blink once in a while, to keep my eyeballs moist, not let them dry out and die in the withering glare of endless miles…
How do I represent the slow change of land, from rolling hills and stiff canyons, to endless flat lands stretching out toward the horizon…
How can I tell you what it is like to travel in a long tube full of seats and people, some of us desperate for a moment to get outside and walk up and down the station platform, before we must be shepherded back onboard for another hour, two hours, or more, of endless rolling and rocking, and staring out the window, or reading a book, or playing with our telephones and computers, or just plain talking with another human being until…
Until the time goes by.
How can I adequately share with you the simple understanding that the most important thing that happens is you get to sit down and eat…
Once. Twice. Again, and again.
This is not like flying on a plane.
And, some of us like it much better.
I must admit, however, that driving can be better. You can go so many more places in a car, just drive right out there and stop for a picnic. On the train, you are virtually a prisoner in the tube, only allowed off for a few minutes at a time.
But you do not have to pay attention to the road. You can look out the window and daydream. Even close your eyes and take a nap.
Nor do you have to worry about gas or oil or air in the tires or anything except what you will do when you get off… or, wait, when is dinner?
Driving is different than traveling by train.
In some ways, driving is much better.
But, as the French say, vive la difference.