I am living your daydream

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My wife says I’m crazy. She doesn’t actually say that. What she says, when I tell her this afternoon that I had reached eastern Illinois, is, “I’m just glad I’m not with you.” That’s a woman’s way of saying you’re crazy. Let’s examine that idea. Where is Cathie when she says this? In hot, steamy Boca Raton, Fla., during day two of a three-day corporate meeting. People gather at 7:30 a.m. and meet uninterrupted until 5:30 p.m., then re-gather at 6 for cocktails before dinner that lasts until 9. After that, they reply to the day’s emails in their rooms and collapse in exhaustion. And she says I’m crazy.
Those of you reading this, who still labor at fulltime jobs, let me ask: How often do you stop whatever it is you are doing and daydream, wishing you were on the open road, maybe one that hews closely to a busy railroad (this is, after all, Better yet, you daydream that you’re on that open road over several days, beside several busy railroads? In your daydreams, you know where you’re going, but are propelled in your revelries by only a vague urgency of getting there. That’s me.
I am living your daydream. This is the fourth time in 10 months I’ve driven this Dodge Durango between Virginia and Colorado; the first time, I stretched the trip over nine days. Confession: Almost three of those days were spent in Las Vegas, N.M., while the Durango got a new transmission. Beware of potholes. But I digress.
I leave our home near Washington, D.C., at 4:05 p.m. yesterday, just as Amtrak’s Capitol Limited pulls out of Union Station. Beltway traffic delays me half an hour, but I overtake the Capitol on Interstate 70 and give it a roll-by going through Hancock, Md., at 6:25 p.m. Then I greet the train as it enters Cumberland, Md., an hour later, having already opened the curtains of my sixth-floor Holiday Inn room that overlooks the CSX tracks and Amtrak station. The sounds of freight trains interrupt my sleep all night. I don’t mind a bit. Remember, I’m crazy.
Today is Cumberland to Effingham, Ill., the boring part, 599 miles of Interstate 70 and connecting roads. I survive the ordeal — I define an ordeal as any long trip devoid of trains to watch — by listening to discs 1 through 9 of a detective thriller. Three discs to go tomorrow, by which time I should be in central Missouri, about to intersect BNSF Railway’s Chicago-Kansas City segment of the Transcon.
I’ll let you know how it goes. — Fred W. Frailey

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