Monday, January 5, 2009

Notes on the Trip Up

Since the details of my trip home are already fading (sniff), I figure I had better start recording them before my old brain sputters them all out to make way for other stuff.

After much contemplation, I decided to travel by train. Yes, the train ride would be in the double digits in terms of hours, but the relative comfort (human sized seats! aisles you can walk! bathrooms that are almost tolerable!) would enable me to arrive somewhat intact. The takeoff/landing of a plane and/or turbulence, or the constant lurching and hairpin turns/movements of the bus just didn't seem like a logical choice for someone with mid-section issues. Amtrak it was!

Having never travelled on Amtrak, only on Via Rail back in Canada (which is, by-the-by, extremely clean and spacious), I was a bit leery as to what was awaiting me. But Penn Station was much better than expected, and I arrived with just enough time to retrieve my tickets and be processed for Canada before getting into the long line to board.

Upon boarding I was pleased to see the general layout, and found myself a spot to nestle in. Hashem then threw me a mitzvah, in the form of a single mother and her cute-as-a-button daughter, who were unable to find seats together. Since I was the only one currently on my side of the aisle, I offered my seats and switched to the open seat behind then next to a young woman. It was a nice way to begin the trip.

All in the all, the trip up was memorable. First, it must be said how beautiful upstate New York is. I witnessed, among other things, a deer scampering across a half-frozen pond, and dozens of men out individually on frozen lakes ice-fishing. There is something particularly breathtaking about the scenery in winter: the frozen water with the brown tundra, amidst snow-covered mountains with pines adding a bit of colour to the scene. Just beautiful.

A note to other parents: the young daughter (I guess she was around 4 or so) was named London of all things. Call me sexist, but I view London as a boy's name, and Brooklyn as a woman's name. I mean, it has Lyn and Brook in it, two girls names. Whatever. In any case, she was incredibly well-behaved, and keep quiet most of the trip while she drew pictures and waited to speak to her mother in between her mother's frequent cell phone calls. In this day and age, it was nice to see a well-behaved, sweet child.

When I arrived at my fair city, I was able to catch the metro right at the train station and marvelled at how clean the system still is. Not only clean mind you- they have screens above the platform running the news and intermittently flashing the number of minutes/seconds until the next train arrives in either direction. Perhaps most incredibly, all stations had personnel to assist you, and when I asked how much I had to add onto my old ticket from my last visit, the woman allowed me to enter without adding fare. And, unlike my beloved F train, the train takes under a minute to go between stops. The end result? I was at my family's home in 15 minutes. What do you say to that, NY MTA???

That's enough reminiscing for now, lest I break out into cries of "I miss my Mommy!". And I do. Anyhow, more on the recent trip to come.

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