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Wandering Florida

Wandering Florida - 'Train Kept A Rollin'
By Joe Murphy
Oct 21, 2006 - 10:47:00 AM

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Most Americans are used to seeing the American South from the window of their car, or perhaps from the window of an airplane. I have to confess that until last week those were my perspectives as well. There is however another way to see this beautiful part of the country we call home. There is the train.
At one point in the history of Florida, and of the American South, train travel and transportation was essential to the movement of goods and people.
www.trainweb.org/crocon/goodenow/photos13.html
Winter Park

Communities that were stops along the rail lines prospered. Then came the highway, the car and the bus, and the truck. The train eventually faded away, and many rail lines now are but dim memories to most, more familiar as bike trails then as the vibrant routes of commerce and transport that they once were.

For those of us who desire to experience all things American, and long for experiences that offer a taste of something different, travel by train is still an option. I'm a driver myself, and not much of a flyer. I'll crawl into the tube with wings only in case of dire necessity. So, my usual default is four wheels, a radio, and the open road. With that said, sometimes we need to try the new and unfamiliar.

I recently took a roundtrip train trip from Winter Park, Florida to Washington, D.C. The train is a wonderful way to travel. I have to confess that my enjoyment of the train increased on my return trip as I learned of, and invested in, accommodations in the Sleeper Car. I had my own little room on wheels, and it is amazing what can be fit and crammed into what essentially is a walk in closet that one might live out of for a day or two.

The great thing about traveling on the train is that someone else continues to drive while you eat, sleep, talk, relax, and meet all kinds of interesting people. I slept through much of the Carolinas, and ate meals as Virginia and Georgia passed by the windows. You arrive at your destination in real time, not in the disorienting manner in which one finds themselves in a new place after a few hours in the sky.

I met people rich and poor, black and white, and folks who loved the train or hated flying. When you eat a meal in the Dining Car the conductor seats you anywhere there is an open seat. I dined with families, couples, and single travelers alike. I met a man who was wrestling with the fact that due to his health he would not outlive his own father. I met a woman who is a real life Mother Theresa as she tends to the poor and addicted of Rhode Island. We talked life and football, hopes and dreams, and conversations that would have never occurred under other circumstances were had.

I saw new things, met new people, and had the time to explore within myself as well. I was on a journey of several different levels with a job interview in Washington D.C., some life crossroads to explore as the train traveled through the long dark night, and time to sort through the successes and failures of 2006 thus far.

If you have a chance, try the train.
You can e-mail Joe Murphy about Florida, his columns, or the train at HYPERLINK "mailto:wildcritters99@aol.com" wildcritters99@aol.com

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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