Homeward Bound – All Aboard the Scenic Route!

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.


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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