9.27.17 - 9/27/2017


People who know of my fondness for train travel contact me from time to time asking for advice. Although I receive no commissions from Amtrak, I am happy to give my endorsement. Life is short, I tell potential travelers, go now while you still can. Besides, walking around on a train that is rocking and rolling isnít the easiest thing to do when you are in your last years. So go while the going is good. I am quite qualified to give advice because I have ridden every Amtrak train in this country, as I often point out, as well as trains in Canada, which include the Rocky Mountaineer, a train that goes through the Canadian Rockies. Once I wrote that the Rocky Mountaineer, which starts in Vancouver and ends in Calgary, was the most scenic train ride in North America. Nobody disagreed with me.†Another plus is that they bring hot meals and adult beverages to your seat, which eliminates the worry of spilling a drink on the way from the bar car back to your seat. What brings up the subject of train travel today is that Iíve had three people - not one, not two but three - ask me in recent days if going by train is something they should consider. The answer, of course, is of course. † Iíve given train advice in the past. In fact, Iím looking right now at a question and answer column written by me several years ago. The questions are still valid and my answers are sill the same. Although you didnít ask, Iíll share it with you, as well as the three who did. Q. Why should I take several days riding west on the train when an airplane will get me there in hours? A. Ever hear of a train falling out of the sky? Q. Did you ever meet anyone interesting on the train? A. Yes, many people, including a young couple on their honeymoon who had the sleeping compartment next to mine. Q. Name something youíve learned while riding a train? A. The walls in the sleeping compartments arenít as thick as I had thought. Q. Is it difficult falling asleep on the train? A. Only if thereís a honeymoon couple in the next compartment. Q. Trains canít be that much more safer than airplanes, can they? A. When was the last time a train conductor asked passengers to check the security of their seatbelt or gave instructions for using the emergency oxygen? And there is no need for life preservers under train seats. Q. Have you seen interesting sights from the train? A. Yes, thereís a river in Colorado, popular with boaters. The river runs along side the tracks for several miles. Boaters always stand up and moon the train. Itís a long standing tradition. Train passengers always take pictures of the boaters. Thatís a long standing tradition, too.† Q. We are going to get off the train and spend a few days in East Glacier National Park in Montana. We have reservations to stay in the village of East Glacier. Can you make any recommendations? A. The best place to get a beer and shoot pool in East Glacier is a place called the Park Bar. It is also the only place in East Glacier where those two things can be done. Q. Travel by train must be so educational. Correct? A. Yes, you learn a lot traveling by train. Take, for example, what can be seen in Niles, a small community in Illinois. Niles has a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which can be seen as the train slowly passes through town. † †Youíd never see that from an airplane.† If all of the above doesnít make people want to go for a train ride, I donít know what will.