Forty-eight hours on a train is a long time, forty-eight hours on a train without anywhere comfortable to sleep is even longer, forty-eight hours on a train with nowhere to sleep and no showers is even longer still. At least I didnít have to deal with overused and overflowing toilets on this train, as I did the last time I rode the rails in Mexico, but that is a story for another time.
Other than my minor gripes, the novelty of the train ride made it somewhat enjoyable, and it is still an interesting alternative to driving or flying. My train from Denver to Chicago was made up of some of the original Superliner cars made in the 1970ís. They seemed inspired by the vision of another time, when rail was still seen as a good way to see the country, before the ongoing difficulties of Amtrak had been foreseen, and when the blush of the Bicentennial celebration was still upon us. The Superliner cars all have two levels, generally with a lounge downstairs and various sorts of passenger accommodations upstairs. The seats in coach were nicer than anything Iíve ever seen in first class on an airline, the white-linen dining was as elegant as the Amtrak workers could make it, and the observation car looked like the interior designer optimistically hoped that people would spontaneously break into disco dancing beneath the red, white, and blue ceiling lights. I ended up spending quite a few hours staring out the windows of the observation car, watching the country pass by.
I tend to keep mostly to myself, but during meals I did talk with a couple from New York, a couple from San Diego, and a police officer from Daytona Beach. I also talked a little bit here and there with other passengers on the train, and somewhere along the way I started thinking about how lucky I am to get to be able to do what I am about to do. Iím fortunate to be young enough and healthy enough to attempt to do this, Iím fortunate to have the money to spend on my equipment and my travels, and Iím fortunate to be able to make the time to let all this happen. It is one thing to think about riding across the country, it is another to talk about doing it, but to actually have the opportunity required a multitude of small blessings to come my way. And as long as Iím counting my blessings, I realize how lucky I am to have the friends I do. From Joe and Heather who are storing my possessions, to Cindy who has been feeding me (quite well) and ferrying me around New England, to all the people who have been coming out of the woodwork to wish me good luck, I really have been quite lucky with the friendships I have made and somehow sustained. Most of all, I am lucky to have Lynn who has known about and supported this idea since it was nothing more than a kernel of a thought.
For the past two days Iíve been staying with Cindy and meeting some of her friends. Friday night I had dinner with a trio of bright, witty, and charming young ladies that made me wonder if the men of Boston knew what they were overlooking. Today I went with Cindy and her friend Niall on a short twenty-five mile ride from Cambridge to Bedford and back. After that Niall took Cindy and me on a tour of some of Bostonís best bicycle shops, and then I did some last minute shopping for a few odds and ends I still needed to track down.
Iím still on track to start pedaling on the 30th. We will be heading south tomorrow, with stops planned in New York City and Philadelphia before we arrive in Yorktown on the 29th. Tuesday morning Iíll be dipping my rear wheel in the water and heading west to learn just how foolhardy this entire idea really is. My next update will be sometime after that, and in all likelihood will contain a description of the numerous inadequacies I have uncovered in the design of my bicycle seat.