Coming back on the train from Chicago was a slow process this time. Flooding on the Mississippi, especially in the Fort Madison area, meant sharing the tracks with freight trains and coming to long pauses to let them pass on the tracks that were not flooded. There really wasn’t much complaining as we experienced group patience in accepting the fact that there was nothing to be done but wait our turn.
The conductor came back to our car and warned us that a group of Scouts on their way to camp at Philmont were boarding at the next stop and that we could change seats if we wanted, as we would be right in the middle of them on the train. She said there would be “a lot of talking.” We were happy to stay where we were and enjoyed the energy and good vibes from these young travelers and their leaders. They came prepared with books, electronic devices, games, snacks, and no sense of rush– just having a good time in the moment.
The ongoing calls to the dining car where there was reserved and communal seating and overhead reminders to wear shoes and be considerate of other passengers in shared bathroom facilities established a sense of order and expectations. Train life may not be for everyone, but for me it is a good way to end a vacation and ease back into reality.
“To exist, which for me is to unlearn to rush. To relax the muscles of my heart and let it beat in its own time. To be in the heat of the sun without thinking heat. To eat when hunger is hungry and give in to the tiredness that arrives with nightfall and darkness covers things and things in the darkness can rest. Just to be and to see. And to see all that is as it is, while it is today, because we don’t know if it will be, tomorrow.” These words from a favorite novel, “Me Who Dove Into the Heart of the World,” by Sabine Berman,, say best what it is to travel well.