Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Train Travelogue, Part 2

Riding the train is a good chance to meet some people that I normally wouldn’t intersect with during the day. My train ride is now long over, but there are a few personalities and one little story worth sharing.

On the last day of my trip towards Portland, I met a guy in the lounge car who kindly pointed out some of the more interesting landmarks. He had worked at the National Park and grown up in North Dakota and was on his way back to his home in Portland after his father’s funeral. A while later as I was enjoying the sunset in the lounge car he called me over to join him and a few others and help him eat the many snacks he had brought along on the trip. Upon sitting down, he invited me to dig in to the assortment of junk food. I nibbled on a few M and Ms.

- Help yourself to anything. I’ve got lots of snacks. You know, I had to clean out the house after the funeral.

My first thought was -I’m eating a dead man’s M and Ms??

-Really, I think I ate too much already....I brought a lot of snacks along, too, so you know, I don't want to over eat....

A bit later in the conversation the topic of Haiti came up (it always does, doesn’t it?). An older man with white scruff and his red baseball cap slightly askew piped in.

- I had a friend who lived there. He got kicked out by that dictator.
- Duvalier? Baby Doc?
- Yeah, yeah. He worked at a casino, was married to one of the locals and got himself real messed up. They did a number on him. Kicked him out of the country and hasn’t been the same since.
- Did his wife return with him?
- No, no. She stayed and he’s never been the same. I don’t know what they did to him.

Who knew I’d run across this story on a train in Montana? On the trip back I came across a few more interesting characters. I didn’t meet them directly, but they sat at a table directly behind me playing cards and I picked up on a few interesting stories. One, Buckey Allen, is a professional rodeo-rider. He happened to be wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt with his sponsor and his name on the back. This complimented his belt-cinched Wranglers with a flask in the back pocket. Another guy, Mike, was on his way from California to New York (that’s one heck of a train trip!) to get back together with a his “girl” that he’d dated 7 years ago and decided to get back together with. If he wasn’t playing cards he was on the phone talking to “my girl”. A third was a young woman with wearing cowboy boots, knickers, a loose jacket and a hobo cap with a long feather. She was on her way to New Orleans with her grandfather to meet up with his Marine Corps buddies. She smelled of patchouli and said she’d joined the circus at a young age. Currently she is living in Idaho making pottery that no one buys. They guys suggested she put in on E-Bay.

The interesting people part continued on my train trip to NY. (Thanks to Shan for dropping me off at the train station!) I sat next to an Indian engineer from South Bend to Penn Station, NYC. A real Indian- he came for a niece’s wedding in Chicago and was using the rest of his tourist visa to see New York and Seattle. I also met a Yogi and an elderly gentleman who’d lived in New York all his life and wanted to tell me all about it during the stopover in Albany. I was most impressed with how his T-shirt pocket was stuffed with stuff. Not only the pocket, but he was able to store Kleenex on his shoulder with the stretch of the shirt holding it in place. Interesting.

So, if you ever want to break out of the mold, meet some interesting people and enjoy the scenery, take the train!! And you might get to claim, like I can, that you’ve slept my way through Fargo, ND- twice!

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