Ok, its official. I am such a dork! I love the Amtrak. I love everything about it. Waiting at the station in Austin is just such a small view into a slice of that life. The guy with the expired driver's license trying to get his ticket has to use his college id and a credit card. He explains that he doesn’t need his driver's license in Singapore. The hippy chick with the giant rolling suitcase, wearing a long dress, wet crazy hair and sandals talks on her cell phone the entire time until the train comes. Inside, she parks herself in the observation car and does her nails. Little boys in Thomas the Train tee shirts are on a train ride excursion with “Dada” (as he calls himself). “Mommy wants a picture. Look at Dada!...no don’t keep saying cheese…just look at me. Nice.” Once inside the train I find corpses draped in fleece across both seats on many isles…where did they come from and where on earth are the headed?
Cotton fields are out one side and the Round Rock Express ball field is out the other. I hear the sound of a far off train whistle in the distance and realize…oh yea…that’s us…this is the sound of a train from where I sit. It is such fun to see kids in strollers on a walk in the country. They wave to us as we pass by. I used to always wave at trains and pick my feet up off the floor of the car when we crossed a track. What that was about I don’t remember now. Cows and church steeples blend side by side with power lines and junk yards.
Announcements are made about the dining car menu, procedure and prices. I came aboard with a giant coffee and breakfast taco, and a Greek plate for lunch from Whole Foods which is across the street from the Austin station. Daniel dropped me off there this morning. I’ll buy myself some cabernet and have my lunch in the observation car. Ooo la la. How lovely. Yes. Yes. It is such a simple lovely little pleasure. God I really am a dork!
First stop, Taylor, Texas – grain elevators, barbecue joints, mesquite trees and fences covered with flowery wild vines. A mom and tot get on and the little one has a toy cd player and NO HEADPHONES!! Oh lordy. It’s loud and the Mulberry Bush song is playing over and over and over while the tot pushes the button with one hand and slurps from a sippy cup with the other. People are starting to evacuate and the corpses are stirring. “Mama huh?” “Mama huh?” “Mama huh?” Mamy huh?” What was it that I heard the blue collar comedy guy say…Oh yea "It’s enough to make a mime scream ‘HEY! IS YOUR NAME MAMA? !!!” Answer your kid!!
Old grave yards with ornamental headstones and tall green grass look peaceful and calm. How did those generic “perpetual maintenance” versions ever begin? Creepy to think they designed a sacred sort of place around the premise that a mower could run right over everything in its path (including the gravestone) without ever stopping.
Tot wails, “Mama! Cows!” Mama responds, “They ain’t no 'moo moos' out there…we passed ‘em back there (she never opens her eyes)” I look up and see cows walking chest deep into a rain filled tank.
We get delayed by a parade in Bartlett. I wish I could get off here and see what it is all about. There are lots and lots of cars, tents and food vendors. While the train is stopped, I make my escape from “The Farmer in the Dell” and head forward to the observation car. Ahh peace!
What a great idea! A woman is in the observation car brought her 13 year old daughter and two friends for a train ride. It was her daughter’s birthday so they got on the train in Taylor and rode it to Temple. Her dad hung up a Happy Birthday banner in Bartlett and stood on top of his Surburban and waved to them as the train went by. Daddy's picking them up in Temple and taking them back to Bartlett for funnel cakes at the street fair.
I love goats…at one point I see a burro chasing four goats toward the train. They look like they are running to see the train go by.
The Conductor sits in the observation car and talks about how we should take the train all the way to Chicago sometime. The train station is in the heart of downtown Chicago and it’s easy to get to hotels and clubs and fabulous pizza places. I think I’ll do that one day. Why not?