Sunday, November 12, 2017

New York to New Orleans by train...

Today's  NYT travel section has an article, "Rolling From New York to New Orleans by Rail", that describes a traveler's looked forward to experience.  It's a familiar one in pieces, as going from New York to Virginia via the Amtrak Crescent was found to be a convenient way to travel in the early 2000's.  Traveling from North Carolina to New Orleans on the Southern Crescent in the early 1970's had also been part of my summer job at that distant time.  Chaperoning 20 or more young campers to and from that city to Camp Carolina via Greenville, S.C. was the experience, one that somehow did not seem difficult then.  I can't imagine.  The return part of the trip without the campers was pretty, pretty enjoyable.

Long train trips were an early experience through traveling to Philmont Scout Ranch near Taos, New Mexico at both ages 14 and 16.  We were with a scout leader both times, but free to wander around Chicago's massive station and nearby parts of that city during long layovers.  Again, imagine that license today.

On those 1960's and 1970's trips, meals were a true interruption and a welcome one.  The dining cars were like nice restaurants with tablecloths and nicely arranged cutlery, great service by dressed up waiters, which due to a strong union was one of the best jobs many black men could have.  Based on the experience of the 2000's, the dining cars are only a faint semblance of those earlier years, and the food was strange.  The article suggested as much about today's travel.

Another familiar thing in the article from the 2000's was the issue of priority on the tracks.  Delays were frequent then and are presumed still to be as certain freight had priority over people.  That is not something that is remembered at all from my early trips.  They were on enough of a regular schedule that a great uncle and aunt could reliably meet me at a short stop in Denver for a greeting and a hamburger.

The article was a reminder of what was rather than an enticement to do it again.


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