Right upfront I’d just like to clarify that I am not a fan of flying. My favorite way to travel is by train. When I retired from teaching a few years ago and wished to spend more time with my children and grandkids, I realized that the best and quickest way to go from one coast to the other is by plane. Turns out it’s the most economical way as well.
Over the years I’ve managed to explore a handful of countries outside the US and enjoyed the learning experiences. Before my husband retired working for a world relief organization, his job took him all over the globe, which was perfect because, unlike me, he loves to fly. It’s still his favorite way to go so he can catch up on email, do some writing and, most of all, get some needed shut eye. When I fly alone, I always have my journal and a good book close at hand. But I prefer getting to meet new and interesting people, which somehow makes the time in transit more worthwhile.
When we drive across country, we often listen to biographies or stories on CD. Sometimes we enjoy sharing favorite memories from our past or about our kids and grandkids. Since my husband is a history and geography buff, he often passes the drive time chatting away about places he’s found intriguing. Now and then we even stop in small towns so he can look up the local historical societies. That’s when I slip away to the nearest boutiques and do some checking out on my own.
When our two children were young, driving across country was more common, and we held to a pretty rigid schedule. It seemed there was never any time for the spontaneous side tracking that road trips can offer. Today we are more relaxed and as we read up on the uniqueness of the places we pass, sometimes we even veer off the plan and check things out.
But as a result of numerous journeys by rail between my kids’ homes in PA and NY, I’ve acquired a real taste for train travel. I love gazing out the windows at the green and serene countryside and whizzing through the old towns and industrial areas nestled behind the tracks. I like to imagine busy people going about their daily routines out there in the cornfields or near the tracks doing their part in making the world go round. Seems so mundane, but if I should ever chance to meet any of those busy people I see for real, I might find similarities to my own way of life and somehow feel a kinship.
God has blessed me with good health so in my 70’s I still have plenty of energy to travel and stay active with my gardening, scrapbooking, card making and substitute teaching. But I’m most thankful that it allows me to spend time with and enjoy my wonderful children and precious grandchildren. Even though they live on the opposite coast and even in Canada, I love being with all of them and always look forward to those times together, no matter how I might travel to get there.
Sandy Siewart is a grandmother of 5, frequent traveler and reluctant flier.