Summer took forever to get here, so I plan to spend as much time outside, taking portraits, and getting stuck in the rain as possible.
Train Number 5
I’m getting used to doing incredibly flat landscape photographs.
Casual humble-bragging on the other blog today…
Back on the Pennsylvanian
There’s always so much to do when I get back from a trip. Other photo jobs, seeing friends, spending way too much time with my dog, emails emails emails, and let’s not forget tumblr messages. I’m ecstatic every time I can help someone with traveling, and I’m humbled by all the compliments. It helps me get through the weeks where I’m not traveling.
The best thing about train travel is that it’s just this therapeutic break from all that. You can just sit, look out at the scenery, read, nap, and for the most part ignore your phone because, honestly, there will be a lot of times where you don’t have signal. Embrace the 4g-less wastelands. For real though, who needs signal when you’re on a train cutting through the woods of Pennsylvania?
I took the Pennsylvanian east again, as I wanted to experience the full route (the section from Philly to NYC is really rad, by the way) and I made plans to meet up with a friend in my Pittsburgh layover again. You’ll see our four hour photo adventure tomorrow.
Yet another train adventure wrapped up.
The Empire Builder
This train, man. I’ve been on this train for as many months as I’ve been doing this blog, and I’ve yet to tire of its views. Stretching across the northwest, it connects Seattle and Portland to Chicago, taking you through some of the most mountainous and also some some of the flattest land in the US. And as you can see from the photos above, you get some stupid-good views.
Not to say this train isn’t without its hardships. The oil boom in North Dakota and eastern Montana is mainly reliant on freight trains to ship oil out of the area, and coupled with the extremely cold winter (and it’s effects on equipment) there have been huge delays in the train’s run time. It’s a bit of a roulette, unfortunately, as these problems only sometimes effect the train’s service.
Honestly, for me it’s hard not to ignore the irony of the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation (minus bicycling, natch) being affected by out insatiable desire for oil. I’ll leave you to your own politics there. But, I don’t want to put a sour taste in your mouth about this train, because if you start worrying about time delays with the US’s trains you really do miss the forest for the trees. The delays can actually work in your favor for sightseeing, of which these pictures are only a small, small sampling.
Once you see it for yourself, it’ll be much easier to accept those little nuisances for all of this train’s beautiful attributes. See, my first time ever taking this train was back in October, when I became one of its 530,000 passengers for 2013. Despite all the things I had already seen and done in the past 13 days, leaving Portland it was easy for me to fall in love with the beautiful, remote parts of the country the Empire Builder takes you through.
This train is in it’s 85th year of running, which is pretty bad ass, and I was treated to one of its fancy roomettes. From reading this blog, you all know I do all this traveling on an incredibly tight budget, so I’ve always been riding in coach. Coach seats are huge and comfy on their own and super easy to sleep in, but I’m not gonna lie it was to be spoiled a little on this trip, mainly because I got to sleep laying all the way down. Luxury.
Pulling back in to Chicago, I was reunited yet again not just with my home, my friends, and my dog, but also with the satisfied feeling of having had another amazing adventure. This is such a great addiction to feed, and I’m already planning for my next fix. It’s been fun being out alone in nature, but I’m thinking somewhere a bit more densely populated, maybe back east? What do you y’all think?
Me and trains, man. Me and trains.
Train Number 29
This train means a lot to me.
Photos from the Capital Limited, a train I actually take like once a year to go back to rural Virginia and visit family that I don’t see often enough.
I cut out most of the mushy stuff.
Train Number 50
There are two routes to get to Washington, D.C. from Chicago. The shorter of the two is the Capital Limited, which takes you through the northern halves of Indiana and Ohio before cutting straight through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The Cardinal, however, literally meanders through the southern parts of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, choosing to ride the Virginia/West Virginia border into D.C. and avoiding those yankee states entirely.
That, and it takes six hours longer.
In a lot of ways, the Cardinal has the classical notions of taking the train. It’s a single-level train, with just a small lounge to sit and have coffee in. It takes you on a twisty route through appalachia, and there’s no doubt you’re going through coal country. You’ll see cleared land, and not shortly after energy plants and coal-based towns accompany. I grew up in rural Virginia, and trips to West Virginia always meant being a passenger in long car rides through the tree-dense hills. This scenic train ride brought me back to that in many ways, and reminded me a lot of my trip on the Coast Starlight (see the pictures from that here), but Burtynsky-esque scenes that pocked the landscape were sobering.
That said, this was an incredibly social train as well. I’m a total weirdo and talk to strangers pretty frequently, that’s just part of taking pictures of people, but living in big cities the past seven years almost made me forget about how chatty people from the country are. These folk, with their bright, full faces that laugh easy, are ice breakers for those of us who treat public transportation as a daily exercise in burying yourself in a phone or book and interacting with as few people as possible.
The Cardinal left Chicago only half-full, but by morning it was loaded with complete strangers enjoying the company of their new friends. I even had a cartoon drawn of me wearing a narwhal costume for some reason.
It’s been a month since I was on this train, but I’m getting on another train in four hours.
I couldn’t be more happy.