I am back from Seattle. I had a wonderful time. Jen was a fantastic hostess. I took some photos. I wrote many pages in my diary. It was the perfect transitional mini-vacation.

Except for the train.

You see, I have this tendency to romanticize things, not everything, mind you, but quite a few things, and I’ve learned not to do it too much with people these days but I still do it with concepts, like, let’s say, a trip up the coast on a train.

In my diary, I decided to illuminate my train travel tips for everyone:

  1. Bring earplugs, because there are a hundred ill-behaved, ugly little children whose parents sugar them up at all hours and then let them loose.
  2. Bring a blanket or extra layer of clothing, because the train is kept at a frigid 60 degrees.
  3. Bring your own food, because all of the prepared food sucks, especially the breakfast egg dishes which are frozen and then reheated, then served in their very own egg pee (descriptive phrase courtesy of the MSG).
  4. Bring noise-cancelling headphones, because of #1, and because your earbuds will hurt your ears after more than an hour or two of iPod-listening.
  5. Don’t take the train.
It wasn’t that I spent longer on the train than I did in Seattle, although that was a bit of a bummer when I thought about it. It was that the train itself was such an unpleasant, smelly, seedy experience that I almost regretted taking it. I say “almost” because it taught me a valuable lesson about romanticizing things like train trips.

I was mostly disappointed that Amtrak is so crappy now, compared to the Amtrak of my younger days, when I used to take it several times a year between the Midwest and the East Coast. It was rarely late, and if it was, it was a matter of minutes, not hours. On the way to Seattle, we were delayed 9 hours in total; on the way back, 5.

There were bright spots. There were the three guys from Taiwan I had lunch with on the way to Seattle who, when we exchanged email addresses, would write their names on a piece of paper they then headed with “Guys From Taiwan”. There were the three older women from Indianapolis I had dinner with on the way back who called each other horrible, wonderful names and cackled with laughter so that the rest of the dining-car passengers turned around to stare at us. There was the scenery, miles and hours of it, and the low chunk-chunk of the train on its borrowed tracks.

However the train was, Seattle did not disappoint. I’m glad I had enough time to catch up with Jen yet still strike out on my own. I got to see the Japanese gardens and a few branches of the public library and Pike Place Market and I had dinner with Stephanie and Jodawi. And I was only a little bad; a Visconti Van Gogh Midi fountain pen just happened to come home with me. hee!

So though I’ll go back to Seattle in a heartbeat, I won’t be taking the train. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go freak out about my first day of my new job, which is tomorrow!

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