"Who in their right mind, Toby, would choose to take an 18-hour plus train ride from Chicago to Washington DC, when they have a perfectly good flight which takes 90 minutes," a colleague asked me last week before I bounced out of town for a work-related trip.
"Why not," I said. And so this weekend... I did. And the adventure... was everything.
If you didn't know, Amtrak runs a daily train to Chicago and back. It's called the Capitol Limited and from what I saw first hand, lots of people take it from Chicago to places in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania... Now, I know it's not the FASTEST way to travel, but I've taken the train from New York to DC before and I love so many things about it. Life - and your perspective on life - move at a different pace when you take the train... and along the way, you get the time to think about things.
So, instead of flying back and getting in the middle of the night, I scrapped my flight, booked bedroom on the sleeper car, and at 6:40 on Friday night, I hopped on the train from Chicago en route to DC.
It was awesome. I mean, assuming you have the time, you sit back, relax and enjoy an 18-plus hour, 700-plus mile trek along some of the most amazing views in America. Now, I did pass out like before 10, but that was the point. And, a good part of the trip was overnight... and let me tell you, when you work my schedule, you cherish sleep. Around 9pm, the Amtrak attendant comes to convert your couch into a twin-size bed which was surprisingly comfortable.
Meals and snacks are included as part of the fare... and yes, there are drinks of the adult variety. If you don't like the meals, you can always go hit up the cafe car while it's open.
What you can't buy... or pay for... are the views you see along the way. Some of the things I saw I'll never forget. Wildlife doing what they do... people fishing in rivers... the views of some of the most beautiful parts of our country and some amazing national parks... and they even have National Park Service Rangers who get on as you cut through the parks to tell you what you are seeing as you discover what the world looks like... as it passes by.
I've got so much more to tell you... about the accomodations, the people you meet along the way and the Amtrak team who take care of you... I'll get back to it in a bit when I've had time to digest my thoughts, but for now, I wanted to tell you that if you have the time... it's so worth it.
They say life is a series of moments. For 18 hours, I had some of the best moments ever.... moments I'll never forget.
There is joy in the journey. I hope you get to experience it.
Thanks for reading... more soon!