12 Things to do on a Long Distance Amtrak Train

I’m Somewhere in North Carolina: I’ve recently boarded an Amtrak train in Richmond, VA.  I’ll be on this train for about 17 hours; so, I’ll need to perform as many different tasks as possible to not be in a hurry to reach my destination.  Instead of being in a rush, I’ll work on focusing only on the task at hand, and not my arrival time.  I’ll be engaging in the following activities for this ride:

Chat with other passengers. The man across the aisle is talkative, but distraught over no longer being together with his ex wife.  We were chatting a bit when I simply mentioned that I’m so happy that I have two outlets, amazing leg room, and two seats to myself, and how this will enhance my ability to work.

Blog/write. I’m blogging right now.  Excuse me for stating the obvious.

Get up and stretch your precious body. My left leg fell asleep moments ago.  That motivated me to get up and stretch the awkwardness out.  The aisles here are wide and my train car is sparsely populated for now.  I was just able to do a number of stretches in a carefree fashion.  I’ll get up and stretch periodically, as this is a habit that I’m trying to keep up almost religiously, whether on a train or not.  Stretching enhances blood flow, promotes overall mental and physical health, and feels great.

Keep your laptop grounded on your food tray during train turbulence. Train turbulence?  What? This is mild compared to the turbulence propensity of an airplane.  My guess is that some of these southern tracks may be in need of maintenance.

Gaze out at the beautiful countryside. I can’t do that right now as I’m on a night train.  The pitch black, rural winter night outside my window makes me think of an infinite black hole.  In the morning, I hope to be treated to a nice sunrise.  Now I’m looking west into my black abyss.  Tomorrow morning I hope that there’ll still be a seat open across the aisle from me so that I can see the sun rising to our Atlantic sided east.

Catch up with friends and family on the phone. This has been working on and off with my intermittent signal. I apologize to anyone who was talking to me and was forced to experience our call dropping.  My carrier isn’t omnipresent.

Take a snooze. I made the mistake of polishing off a 16-ounce coffee while waiting for the train.  Even though I’m beat from the past days of traveling and visiting, I don’t feel like I’ll be snoozing anytime soon.

Catch up on some reading. I’ve got my novel.  Wifi would be wonderful but it’s now nonexistent.  I guessed that this could be the case so I made it a point to save a whole bunch of URLs to my hard drive last night.

Go hang out in the dining car. I just walked down to scope out a few people enjoying a couple of beers.  A couple of people were eating.  The fare is very typical of unhealthy United States food.  I noticed that they sell pizza, burgers, franks and mammoth, sugar-laden cinnamon buns.  This is more than likely based upon supply and demand.  Give the people what they want. Let me refrain from screaming.  I have not been eating well.  Tomorrow I’m hoping to find an establishment that’ll serve me a gigantic salad of many hues.  I’ll need a salad buffet.  I wonder if those exist in Florida.  Tonight I’ll be satiated via some almonds and walnuts, while for the morning I have an apple, a banana, some figs and some raisins.  Carrying food on the road in the U.S. can usually allow for a healthier eating experience, compared to emulating the masses by force feeding your body with junk that it would prefer to reject.  I wish there were a law passed, legislation that requires us to treat our bodies like shrines.  This way gross junk food for the sake of capitalism could be virtually eliminated.

Shoot the breeze with a conductor. I just spoke with a conductor for a few minutes.  I asked about a potential sleeper upgrade.  He said:

Keep asking me and others as the night goes on, but for now it’s not possible.”

I asked him if the tap water in the bathrooms is OK.  He said:

Yes.  I drink it all the time.”

The first bathroom I walked into spewed only hot water.  The second one I tried dispensed cold water.  I’m drinking the latter one now.  It’s tastes OK, and it’s free.  The conductor also informed me that we’re almost in Raleigh, NC, and that the train would fill up and be full all the way to Orlando.  I’ve set myself up somewhat comfortably.  We’re stopped and a plethora of folks are now boarding.

Listen to music. I don’t even have an Ipod.  However, I’ve got headphones plugged into my notebook and I’m listening to my favorite meditation music, hoping that it aids me in getting at least some heavily needed rest.  The music is blocking a lot of the chatter that’s going on with all the new passengers boarding now.  The train is full. Everyone’s speaking in a southern drawl.  The snow-infested north is behind me.

Walk up and down the aisles to get the body moving. I’ve just awoken from a sporadic half sleep at best.  I was struggling but managed to catch a tad of unconscious rest.   While walking I stopped and stretched.  There is nothing better than a great big glass of water and a stretching session upon waking up in the morning.  I was the only one stretching and different people were giving me slight, funny looks of surprise.  A couple of ladies were smiling.  They seemed to find what I was doing to be cute.

The sun is now rising opposite my side of the train.  We’ve dropped off and picked up in Jacksonville.  I can see the rising sun through the windows of  the opposite side of the train.  The day looks promising.  I should be debarking at my destination in a couple of hours.  I’m experiencing by far, the longest train ride I’ve ever taken in the United States.  Earlier in the week I took the longest bus ride of my US travel career.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

The 17-hour Amtrak ride from Richmond to Orlando cost me $101.  Considering the wide seats and long leg room,  I’ll call it a decent buy.  However, this deal pales in comparison to that $2.50 Megabus deal from earlier in the week.  Thus, for $103.50 I’ve managed to comfortably cover most of the east coast; not too shabby.


2 responses to this post.

  1. DAVID: Yes! It’s funny, in our vast land, we have folks who are trying and are focused on the old adage: you are what you eat. However, if one isn’t a health nut, they tend to be the opposite, they eat a lot of processed foods, take in too many calories and live sedentary lifestyles. There seems to be virtually no in between. There also seems to be a huge food-intake lifestyle discrepancy amongst those that live in and around cities as opposed to those in more rural areas. As for your water comment. I would love to see more folks switch from nasty sugar-laden and diet sodas to water. If I try to drink a Mountain Dew for example, I regret it cuz I feel gross afterwards.


  2. I have been drinking a large glass of water right when I wake up for years now as well. It really seems to make a big difference that I can sense in myself. After hours of being a sleep the body is a bit dehydrated. I would think when you are a full time traveler (like you are now) being mentally and physically fit makes for the most pleasant experience. Keep up the stretching and good diet!


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