Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Train Ride from Chicago to Washington D.C.


It was odd leaving Chicago and saying good-bye to Daniel. He gave me a better send off than Seattle had. When I left Seattle, no one was there to say good-bye (although there was a Nykklus with me!).

I was excited as I stood in line to board the train to Washington D.C. Daniel shares the enthusiasm I do for the train and was just as eager to get on his ride – but it was tomorrow (poor guy had to wait).

It was a sold out train and I got the window seat next to a polite girl named Patty who filled me in on the latest drama of catching the train. As soon as my ticket was checked, I said a polite, “Tschao” and ran up to the Observation Lounge where I made myself my nest for the evening.


A young nineteen year old man had the same idea and we ended up next to each other. World, meet Shareef (spelling? Schah-reeeeeef). Shareef had as many smiles and things to say and he was the kind of guy that sort of drives you insane, but you love him any way. He's the kind of guy that speaks you when you want silence to write, but you can't help but smile athim as he tells you about the book he's reading or about one of his love of his grape soda bottle that the train attendant just took away.

Another man joined us. Name? Not sure. Age? 26 (the age of “strapping young lads). His girlfriend wants to go to Evergreen in Olympia. Together, we had our trio for the night.


Chicago and Toledo had me baffled. The feel of the cities' suburbs left me as curious as the open plaines of North Dakota had. I wanted to explore further and pick up the rhythms of the neighbourhoods.


Around 11 PM (East coast time – so  around 8 PM in Seattle) I decided to make my bed for the night. For the second night in the row, I slumbed on the ground of the Observation Lounge. A couple from the previous train ride and given me a felt blanket to go with my quilt and the combination of the two kept me very comfortable. I put a thin train-pillow over my food bag, my down jacket on the ground, and the two blankets over me in the corner closer to the door. I choose to sleep here instead of in my seat beacause I can stretch out here and make myself genuinely feel at home.

I woke up when we arrived in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon moving my nose, the blood started to flow down my throat and eventually, I coughed up a huge clod of blood into the Amtrak napkin Ben had given me. I felt exhasuted. It was 4:35 AM.

I settled back into a slumber and found mysel in a peaceful state of zzzzzz when I awoke to a poke.
A poke?
Who was poking me?



The only logical reason I could come up with for being poked was if we were in Washington D.C. (already 12:40 PM?) and I sat up. It was Shareef. He wanted me to see the view. By the time I looked out he said, “Oh – it's gone now.”

Getting into a deep sleep isn't an easy task on a train and I was a wee bit frustrated. I did enjoy the view and was grateful to see it, but I educated him a bit.

“Shareef, when you're on a train, it's not the best idea to wake people up.” We work so hard to fall asleep and I could have used the final stages of the sleep cycle to make myself feel set for the day. Later I through in a 30 minute nap that left me feeling better.


The landscapes of Maryland and West Virginia are altogether unique and refreshing. Along the river tre are all sorts of little camps set up of RV's, trailers, and shelters. Currently, all of the trees have lost their leaves, but I can imagine hwat it will look like in the summer as kids run around and spend their time thinking that this is how summers are always ment to be spent.

The towns start to have collisions of older-than-Seattle houses and mobile hom parks. I find myself drawn to both. I wonder if I could get absorbed into those towns just as Haines absorbed into me. I wonder if I could wander the streets and if someone would offer to take me in.

I want to call so many places homes. This country is so infectous. After time in Switzerland, I wasn't sure how anyone could want to live anywhere else but the more time I spend in the States, the more I fall in love with it. Can I camp in these woods, please? Would anyone care or ever find me? I want to keep discovering and uprooting and replanting. Does everyone else have these deep desires or to people want the security of a home to always go home to.

I guess there must be a lot of people in this country who  just want a big piece of open land, a few trees, and a two story house. I guess the suburbs of Seattle aren't as common as I thought they were. Maybe developments haven't taken over the country. I wonder what tese people do for a living out in the middle of nowhere. How do they get by with no Amazon or Microsoft a 30 minute commute away.

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