17.5 hours down | 26.5 to go
Okay, so the whole sleeping-on-a-train thing is not as great as I’d imagined. Although the rocking of the train puts me in a cat nap almost instantaneously, getting significant deep sleep is difficult. The seats recline, and there are footrests that can lever up. I brought a scarf that is massive enough to double as a blanket, and I used my jacket as a pillow. Still, with all of that, train seats are not beds.
I woke up for good a little after 7:00, and I discovered a dressing room down the toilet hallway. There aren’t showers for those of us in coach, but changing just enough clothes to feel like it’s a new day goes a long way toward making me feel clean.
I grabbed coffee in the cafe car and sat in the observation lounge while the sun came up in North Dakota. It is not an especially beautiful part of our country.
20 hours down | 24 to go
Okay, here’s the lowdown on my seat situation. In front of me is a kid who appears as a camera between his seat and the window. I know he is male and Asian from the times he gets up to go to the bathroom, but that is the extent of our relationship.
Across the aisle from me is a couple in their early 20s, and it is just my luck that the only non-single travelers wound up across from me: PDA-afficianados who give each other smacking kisses in between watching episodes of American Horror Story on his laptop. They are still asleep this morning, spooning, and I am still sitting next to them, trying not to stab them with my phone charger.
Behind me is a row of empty seats, saved for train crew who need to sleep during the night. An hour ago or so, a guy crew member was chatting up a girl crew member, who is apparently from Eastern Europe and was successfully convincing him to visit her during his time off.
Although I am appalled by the relational success of others, all these couples have made me wonder if I would take this train ride with someone. I’m glad I went alone this time, because I like to see if I can brave new experiences without relying on the boldness of someone else. I might want to travel by train with a friend, but 44 hours is a very long time to be sitting next to the same person. And the train car is overwhelmingly quiet, and I would hate to be the one to break the peace by talking to a friend. So no, actually, I think train travel is best experienced alone.
DO YOU HEAR ME, SPOONING COUPLE?
25 hours down | 19 to go
I don’t actually know if those times are right anymore. We passed a time zone sometime around lunch, because I thought I bought a sandwich from the cafe car at 11:30, but by the time I got back to my seat, my phone said it was only 10:30. To compromise, I ate half the sandwich at 10:30, then took a nap and ate the rest at 12:30.
It’s weird to think I still have another day of this. Another night sleeping in awkward positions. Another breakfast to eat. Another 19 hours to live on a train. Wandering from car to car, acting like this is significant movement. This is my life now.
28.5 hours down | 15.5 to go
I just overheard PDA Couple talking on the phone to, presumably, a friend. They giggled, whispering, “We were talking about what you said…yeah! How could they manage to…I mean, they’re so small. There’s no room to – that’s so gross!” This after I passed them in the toilet hallway. Thanks for the even more horrifying visual, PDA Couple. They’re due to get off in Whitefish, Montana, though, so I won’t have to endure another night of their legs intertwined two feet away from mine. Couples should be put in containment cells.
I did meet my in-front-of-me fellow passenger, who popped his head over the seat to hold up an Apple charger and say, “Excuse me. Could I borrow, um, attachment?”
“Mmhm,” I said, fishing the cord from my purse and passing it forward. We spoke again a couple hours later when I said, “Excuse me. Could I have my cord back?” and he answered, “Mmhm.”
Since lunch, I have finished a book of travel essays, listened to Ernest Cline’s Armada audiobook (I don’t love it), and leveled up in Candy Crush. Basically what I do all day every day anyway. When I told Joe and Emily about this train trip, Joe said, “You’re going to be so bored.” I laughed condescendingly and said, “Oh Joe, I sit in a chair and read twelve hours a day voluntarily.”
But my life of leisure is coming to an end soon! (Thank God, I was actually getting quite bored.) When I get back from Seattle, I’m going to work part-time as a librarian again! Gotta make some scratch to support my travel habit.