Two weeks until the next adventure begins and I am oddly filled with trepidation. I shouldn’t be, really. After all, I am heading into the setting sun towards the cradle of my heart and soul, the lush and gloriously not humid Pacific Northwest. I should be giddy with the anticipation and driving my friends batty with my gushing about home.
This time is radically different. For several reasons.
One is directly related to why I am been so strangely quiet on this blog. I’ve been slogging through a rather persistent flare of fibromyalgia. Cyclical bouts of insomnia, lethargy, randomly sore joints and muscles, fatigue as I wilt under the summer heat (and it’s truly not that hot at all.) I am unsettled and my body doesn’t handle this kind of stress well and has been throwing temper tantrums.
But it’s also how I am travelling home.
All aboard the Empire Builder! Amtrak’s stalwart working horse of a passenger train that daily plies the mountains and prairies between Seattle/Portland and Chicago. I always prefers trains over planes and automobiles anyways and the recent astronomical surge in airline prices from Wisconsin to anywhere out West that isn’t Los Angeles has been ridiculous. For half the cost I will recline in my comfy passenger seat and gaze at the landscapes kaleidoscope by my window.
I love the pace of train travel. Sinking into that relaxed stupor of reading, writing and daydreaming as I strip away the urgencies of modern life, disconnect from constant technology, and allow myself to open up to the encounters and stories of serendipitous encounters with fellow travelers.
But I have never traveled Amtrak for an extended multi-journey while experiencing a fibro flare. I will pack earplugs, face masks, a pile of books, comfy clothes, snacks. I am fully capable of sleeping curled up in my seat (the seats are double the size of coach in today’s brutal air travel reality.). Heck, I’ve even travelled Amtrak without a sleeper berth from coast to coast before!
But I am officially worried if this flare doesn’t die down soon. I also wish Amtrak (and American travelers) would take a page from Europe and add cheap ($30 to $50) couchette sleeping cars to their trains. Sure, the compartments of pairs of three-tiers stacked bunks may not be America’s cup of tea. (I have to share a sleeping compartment with five strangers?! In a compartment that reminds me of sleeping in a submarine?)
Yeah, it can be awkward. But honestly, isn’t sleeping in coach with 30-40 random people in not fully reclining chairs worse?
So, two weeks and counting.