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On Sunny Lane: Taking the Train

So, Sweetheart and I chose to take the train to my great nephew's wedding in California.

We've taken the train on trips before. We would get a 15-day rail pass at a bargain rate and travel out to Tacoma WA and Eugene WA to visit my nieces. Sometimes, we stopped in Denver CO, or some other fabulous place just for the fun of it.

We always got a coach seat, rather than a sleeper. We like it, because we can get up at any time without disturbing anybody and walk around the cars. We can go to the restroom, or the snack car, or--our favorite--the lounge car.

We like to talk to people in the lounge car, where the windows stretch from floor to ceiling and sit in the comfortable chairs, where we can stretch our legs as far as they will go. There are booth-like tables, where people can eat or play games. There was a backgammon game in progress on our way out west this time.

We meet some interesting people in the lounge car. We met a farmer from Missouri, with 1200 acres, who was going to Los Angeles to see his daughter graduate from art school. He said the cost of fertilizer has gone up, but he was still able to plant his crops.

We talked with a young man who puts special gears on bicycles to make them more efficient and dynamic. He said the key to solving the energy crisis is people power. I think he meant riding bicycles.

There were several men here and there who were Hispanic. One of them, from Guadalajaro MX, couldn't speak English. Fortunately, he met up with another Hispanic man who could. I spoke with him--a few sentences in what little Spanish I know.

I question the wisdom of traveling in a country where you don't know the language. As we were traveling through Ohio, we came close to Waterloo. A young man, who appeared to be from a middle Eastern country, showed me his I-pad, on which he had scrawled the word "Waterloo" and gave me an inquisitive look. I could only nod my head, because I don't speak any Arabic.

Sweetheart and I invited an Amish couple to sit at our table at one point on our trip. They said they were from western Pennsylvania. We said we were, too.Turns out, they live only 25 miles away from us. We were later joined by their friends--who live only 2.5 miles from us. Who would have thought it!

There was a troop of 60 Boy Scouts on the train, who were going to the annual Boy Scout camp-out in Raton AZ. By the time they got off the train, the snack bar had been wiped out of deli sandwiches and microwave mac & cheese, as well as muffins and cheese and cracker boxes. All that was left were a few bags of candies.

Well, the cockles of my heart were warmed as I walked through the cars and saw people of many shades of color and body features. They were dressed in Boy Scout uniforms, traditional Amish clothing and traditional American dress (whatever).

There were people of all ages and sizes and many ethnic backgrounds. Everyone was pleasant and polite, even though some of us had been together for two whole days. It is possible to live in peaceful co-existence.

Then, as we approached Los Angeles, I saw the woman sitting in front of us, writing what appeared to be a script for a play in a notebook. I asked her if she was a Los Angeles script writer. She said she had worked for Warner Brothers, but was working for someone else now.

She had a book in front of her that she was making into a play. I told her I write a column for four local newspapers and had written two books. Since both of our books are on Amazon, we promised to buy each other's books,

The sad part of the whole trip is that Sweetheart and I were so busy traipsing back and forth to the lounge car that we ignored our neighbors, except for a friendly hello. We could have had many enjoyable hours of shop talk.

I learned my lesson. Sometimes, the best adventure lies right in front of you. Don't pass it up.


Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or make a comment by emailing her at

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