Friday Frivolity: Vacation Notes

I know I mentioned previously that Sue and I took a lengthy trip to “the west”.  During the trip, I would send “Status notes” to a few friends “back home.”  Here’s extracts from the first day or so on the AMTRAK – Empire Builder.

Day two…morning.  A noteworthy start of the day.  I did not take my camera to breakfast so I was unable to photograph the geographical center of North America. The train stopped but I was unprepared to truly capture the awesome significance of this otherwise flat nothingness of North Dakota.  I was mesmerized by the sign as well as the situation.  Just think…someone had the great wisdom to build a station on the exact center of North America.  Makes me wonder if AMTRAK also has a station on the geographical center of the United States.

Second noteworthy special moment…or moments as the case may be.  There is no internet service within miles of the center of North America.  I’m able to type on my iPad, but when I’ll be able to send this memo it anybody’s guess.  It seems that guys who bale thousands of acres of hay don’t need the Internet.

And if it’s not hay bales for as far as my eyes can see, it is Black Angus roaming across the plains waiting for Rowdy Yates to come and round them up for a Rawhide drive to Kansas City.  Had one of those steaks last night.  Oh, boy was that a fine dinner.  $32 if you are riding “coach” fare.  Breakfast was sausage, eggs, redskins, pancakes, croissants and juice…what diet?

And that’s the way it is this morning traveling the rails north of US-2.

I’m telling you, I’m considering a coup on this Empire Builder train.  Of course I knew we’d be going through time zones.

Of course I knew we’d lose an hour going into each time zone as we headed west.

Of course I knew the folks on the land cared about the time of day.

But I DID NOT know those of us segregated from the stationery outside world in a fleeting dining car would eat on a fluctuating time schedule.

My body does not care what time zone it is in.  Stomach Time is measure by minutes since the last morsel of food entered my mouth.  Breakfast at 7, snack at 9, lunch at 11.  No, no, no., it is unacceptable to push lunch back an hour just because we entered Montana.

Even if my stomach could interpret my words regarding warping time, with its own walls warping inward, my hunger pangs are growling so loud it would “hear” nothing of my logic.

By the way, buying a small container of caramel corn was ill advised.  It WAS a delicious snack a couple hours ago…no three hours instantly as we are now in Montana.  Regrettably, I’m now down to snacking on the health food bars Sue packed.  They are all I’ll have to get me through the next time zone change tomorrow.

Time zones aside, the scenic zones change rapidly at a hundred miles an hour.  Today alone, we went from endless flatlands of hay and corn, then into rolling hills of cattle, and now huge fields of oil wells.

When I was checking the Parshall Oil Field info for my personal edification, I discovered that we are currently North of the Upper Peninsula. No wonder I about froze at the Minot ND stop while the train replenished its water supply.

The train’s speakers announce this stop with a warning of the refueling of the engines and refilling the water tanks.  No potty breaks while they do this. Just imagine pressurized ice cold water back-flushing the toilet while you sat there meditating with a copy of STUMPED.

Anyway, I’m wearing shorts and a golf shirt because Sue stuck my jacket into the “checked baggage” back in 75° Chicago.  In fairness to her, I didn’t “carry-on” long pants or sweatshirt.  How was I to know our fine luxury suite had no control of the air-conditioned temperature.  I tried to close the vent, but ice had already formed on the lever.

I decided this lengthy stop in Minot would be a good time to stretch my legs on land that wasn’t swaying.   Both Sue and I exited the train for a stroll.  Short stroll. People in Minot apparently think 40° is Indian Summer.  Most of the Dakotans wandering about were attired similar to me.  Did I mention this stop was NORTH of the Upper Peninsula?  — and I assure you no Yooper was dressed for a golf outing today.  As Sue, bundled in sweatshirt and blanket, told me she was getting back on the train, I could see her breath.  I was right behind her.

And that’s the way it is in the far north, …in a vastly different time zone than you.

Maybe next Friday, a few more notes home.

3 thoughts on “Friday Frivolity: Vacation Notes

  1. I enjoyed this one Ed. From a Brit I still can’t get my head around the vastness of America. We don’t have to cross any time zones to get cross-country, the twice yearly switch from Greenwich mean time to British Summer time is about as close as we get!


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