Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Train Ride - It Wasn't the Nancy Hanks

Have you ever taken the Seattle/Portland train?    In my early years we rode lots of trains and one of my favorite rides was taking the Nancy Hanks from Macon to Atlanta for shopping.  Those days are long gone but my recent trip to Portland did include an incredible round trip from Portland to Seattle.  Please let me share a bit about the ride.

The train ride was one of those times in life that I felt like I was playing a part in a movie.  The characters seemed to come to life before me and each was unique adding dialogue and character throughout the duration of the trip.

You can learn a lot about people by spending time with them on a train   It happened with me and my daughter as we traveled from Seattle to Portland.  After boarding we decided to get a bite to eat and rather than returning to our car, #8, we decided to eat in the diner where there were tables.  It was early evening and since we had a three hour ride ahead of us, I decided to have a glass of wine and my daughter was happy to have a beer.  We noticed two young men at the bar, one appearing to be in his thirties and the other, much younger.  In a matter of moments, two women, both appearing to be in their early thirties, sat at the table beside ours.  The two of them seemed to have just met and I overheard one of the women say that she was a dancer in an "exotic" club.   Out of the blue one of the men at the bar got up and ordered drinks for everyone in the car.  By this time a couple of others had come to the diner car.  My daughter immediately went back to car #8 to get her guitar and start the music.   By this time everyone in the diner began introducing themselves and the entertainment was underway.  Everyone was on their way home to see "mama."   Tom Jones was one of the most unique characters joining in the party.  Tom explained that he is a hermit who left civilization 15 years ago to build a log cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity.  He came out of the woods to go to Seattle to see his son who was graduating from college.   Judging by the length of his ponytail, he was telling the truth.  I'm not so sure that the story about having to use "tear gas" to get his ex-girlfriend out of the cabin was completely true, but nonetheless, he was a character.  The exotic dancer's family came from Kentucky so when my daughter began playing her bluegrass music, it was old home week.  The young man at the bar was sweet Travis.  He'd just turned 21 and at a height of 6'7", he was hard to miss.  He became my protector when Trevor, the older gentleman, got a bit out of line.  Travis was quick to share that he was a "mama's boy" and was ready to defend mama, no matter the consequences.   The last to enter the diner car was Herbie, a real "dapper Dan."  He was dressed in a double-breasted suit with alligator shoes.  He explained to us that he was dressed for the weekend and that his suit would serve him well for partying on Saturday night and again for Sunday services followed by a graveside ceremony for his mom.  No need for a suitcase - he was dressed for the weekend.
All during the train ride Mimi just kept playing.   Each of us had nothing in common but with the music. for just a short while, it seemed, we had everything in common.

It was interesting to read this news story after the ride.  We were asked to refrain from using our cell phones, or to go to areas to talk so as not to disturb other passengers.  I found this story to be very interesting.  Can't wait to share more from my trip!  I'm so behind on reading blogs and I'm looking forward to catching up.

P.S.  I love Portland.  Honestly, it is one amazing city.


  1. I love the trains. I used to take the Southwest Chief and then the Lake Shore Limited traveling west coast to east coast and back again. Most recently I did the reverse. You're right about the people. On my last trip I got to see the smallest-sized sleeper--literally the size of a closet!

  2. I love the train, used to ride it all the time up and down the east coast. Sadly, no trains in Phoenix......

  3. Cheryl, glad you are having a great trip. I like to travel on trains. Only done that in Europe though. ~ Sarah

  4. This made me smile - that's a pretty typical Pacific NW cast of characters! It sounds like you had a great time - Portland is on our list for this summer, to see the roses.

  5. I so loved the NANCY HANKS, one of the only two trains I've ever ridden. We should to catch the NH in Macon & ride to Atlanta to the zoo, Rich's, the Cyclorama, etc. But riding the train was my favorite. What wonderful memories:) I hadn't thought of the NH in a long, long time.

  6. Ha! You're not in Georgia anymore, JOJO!

    What a great story, and an auspicious beginning to a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!

    It's so cool that your daughter intuitively knew to get that guitar and create connections!

    Thanks very much for the smile today, JOJO.

  7. By the way, JOJO, my daughter will be moving to Marietta this summer to begin her season with The Georgia Ballet. Any advice on areas to look for affordable apartments would be greatly appreciated! thanks! :-)

  8. I love train rides!
    When we got married we didn't have a car as yet and took the train to Buffalo, NY and then the bus to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon. :)
    Ten years ago my husband and I and our children rode the trains all over Italy one summer, from north to south.