I have to give thanks to Bozoette again for sharing the theme of “trains” in her blog…which led me to realize that I, too, have a wonderful memory of trains. Bozette says that she got the idea from CafeWriting. I’ve added that blog to my reading list. One more item I seldom get to won’t hurt!

As I reminisce, the first train trip that comes to mind was not the first that I took or the one that lasted the longest, but the one that made the biggest impression on me.  It was a short trip–only 94 miles round trip–and the whole thing, including a stop for sightseeing and lunch, took only 4.5 hours.  I don’t remember the exact year of the ride, but it was probably Spring 1998 or 1999. At the time, my mom was living in Mountain Home, Arkansas (that’s a story in its own right), and I had driven up from Houston to Northern Arkansas to visit her. We drove to Flippen (population about 1300) so we could get on the White River Scenic Railroad and see the lovely beauty of the White River from Flippen to Calico Rock (pop. 850) (these are real names of real towns…cool, huh?). The train had a great open-air platform at the end of the car and it afforded some views of the river and surrounding cliffs that my camera couldn’t even begin to capture. I remember seeing my first American Bald Eagle on that trip, and it was icing on the cake for a special day with my mom.  I still smile as I remember the day. It was one that I’ll treasure forever. It’s wonderful how reading Mary’s (Bozoette) blog brought me this lovely memory. Thanks, Mary!

The next most prominent train trip I remember was with my daughter, Connie, and it was on Virgin Trains. We took the train from Liverpool, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland. We were in Liverpool for two nights–we went there specifically to see The Beatles’ Story Museum–and were headed to a B&B in Edinburgh for another 2-3 days before heading for Paris on the boat-train.  (Despite my Austrian last name now, I was born a full-blooded Scot. I thought it would be nice to see the land of my foreparents!)  We had almost missed the train and the only seats available were at tables (two seats facing forward; two backward around a small table) with others. We chose to sit with a young woman who looked interesting (at the time, I thought she wore a little too  much makeup and showed a little too much cleavage). But, in retrospect, it really doesn’t matter–Joanne Lamb came into our lives. JoJo is a hoot. She was interesting and funny and insisted on getting us an upgrade to First Class for the second leg of our trip (she worked for Virgin, although she wasn’t working during the ride). She shared her stories and listened to ours as we rode together those couple of hours. One would think that was that…but it wasn’t. We exchanged contact information, and that was good because upon arriving in Edinburgh, I realized I had left a huge bag of things in my Liverpool hotel (remember that we were late for the train?). I contacted JoJo, who lived in Liverpool, and over the next few months, she managed to collect the things I had left and mail them to me! She is a force of nature and if you check out her Facebook page, you’ll see what I mean. I look forward to seeing her again, which is quite likely, because this young woman now is a flight attendant on Virgin Air, and she flies to the U.S. quite regularly!  What a delight that train trip was…and what a treasure we found in our friendship with JoJo.

Other trainworthy notes:

  • My maternal grandfather was a railroad worker–can’t remember his job title. He died before I was  born, so I never knew him, but my mom spoke about him often and always quite fondly.
  • Mom and I traveled all around France, Switzerland, and Italy by train in 1978. Mom paid all the bills; I made all the arrangements and carried the luggage.
  • Sometime during Connie’s childhood, she and I flew to the San Francisco area and returned by train. I wanted to give her the experience of traveling.  But, just as I’ve forgotten so much of what was going on during those days, I’ve forgotten when it was–1980 maybe?
  • The Coaster travels from San Diego up the coast–I occasionally take it to San Juan Capistrano for STC events. It’s inexpensive, great fun, and without traffic!!!

OK. That’s it for that particular train of thought.  (ba-da-boomp!) Till next time!

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