Tuesday, March 13, 2007

By rail or by road?

There's a great big country out there, and I'm trying to decide how I want to see it all.

After doing some research on Amtrak, I've found that traveling by rail to Seattle would be comparable in cost - and only a bit lengthier in time - than hoofing it by road. Do I sit and lounge in comfort, watching the countryside pass me by? Or do I zoom out across I-94 and I-90, stopping and seeing what I want to see but risk the health (and possible beauty) of my car?


Also, if I took the train I couldn't venture up into Canada for the Great Trek Back East. Plus, I think it would take me a bit longer for the cross-Canadian stretch. Who knows, I might get picked up by the RCMP.

Part of me feels like the train ride would be a lot smoother, hassle-free way to go. I could just sit back and get there. And by driving, I'm not sure I'd have as much time as I'd like to explore, say, Glacier National, Yellowstone, or Mount Rushmore. I'd be hauling ass either way, and would probably have to take off immediately the morning after Keith's wedding.

(pardon me as I think through this as I type...)

It's sad that this trip doesn't hold the allure of last year's trip. Not even close. Instead of taking my time for a whole week to get to the coast, I'll be rushing just to get to Seattle so that I can enjoy a few days of the Jet City.

But it IS a part of the country that I haven't been to, and I'll be traveling through some unique terrain to get there. Does it matter how I get there?

I'm worried that the financial part of the decision is the heaviest, because after the Orlando trip, the Chicago trip, Keith's wedding, and who-the-hell-knows what else comes up along the way, things will be tight. I'm saving up to get out of debt, after all, and blowing my savings on a cross-country trip doesn't exactly help the cause.

My spring trip, however, is tradition, and damn it all - there are parts of this country I have yet to see, and I mean to see them.

Grandma, for her part, votes for the train ride - mostly because she worries about me driving so much.

"All that driving, you're going to be tired."

"Grandma, I drove for 10 straight days last year, without much a break. I think I can handle three days each way."

"I don't know, I just worry about you..."

This from the lady who - last year - told me I would only make it to Arizona, give up, and turn back for home.

I guess there's something old-fashioned about the idea of riding by rail. In the 19th century, of course, the choice was easier: train or covered wagon? I suppose I should count myself lucky that I have two not-bad modes of travel to pick from.

Half the fun is just in the getting there, right? Seeing the sights, seeing the country, realizing how big the idea of Manifest Destiny really was.

I've got some time to mull it over. The train isn't leaving just yet...

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