Thursday, March 07, 2013

... boston to chicago

i'm on the lake shore limited and it's coming up to 11pm. the train has been pretty empty up until the last couple of stops. i think we had quite the influx at the stop in utica, ny, but at albany-rensselaer, ny, we had another train from elsewhere (dc?) joined up to our own from massachusetts. (or "mass", as everyone from mass that i've met seems to refer to it...)

the train is an overnight express. the lights have been dimmed and there are no stop announcements made until 7am. conductors walk up and down the train constantly with their walkie-talkies and stiff round leather caps. i was assisted at boston south station before boarding by actual red caps, something i'd read about but i don't know that i'd noticed in seattle or portland when i've been haunting amtrak. "red caps" are not the fairies that live at the bottom of english gardens, or soldiers that serve in the british army, but rather a particular group who have been looking after luggage and front-line customer service on american trains long before there was an amtrak. to the best of my recollection, red caps were often african-american in background and their jobs were kept in the family, some caps literally passing from father to son. there was much pride taken in being a red cap, so clearly set apart from other service and custodial staff at train stations.

there's no wifi connection on the train, so i'm typing this in notepad and later on i'll upload it and backdate it so it fits. i have an entry for the 4th that i'll so the same thing with, since i have a sneaking suspicion that i've neglected to upload a blog entry for then. i may also do one for the 5th. i'll have to think a little harder about that one.

when i checked out this morning, i asked when i could stay again at the hostel in boston. they have a 14-nights-in-a-calendar-year policy, which means that if i wanted to i could head back up to boston after visiting wilmington and spend a little more time there... i really liked boston and feel like it's a place that would a great deal for the diligent explorer. i'm not talking about revolutionary war history - it's lousy with that, you can barely turn around without seeing some old building that was part of the early rebellion against george iii - but rather a cultural history of baseball and basketball and hockey, of food, of the turning of seasons, of being a commonwealth rather than a state (a status shared with viriginia only, i gather), of being much smaller than it seems despite the cultural, historical and industrial gravity it exerts.

we're coming up to rochester, ny. all around me people with "chi" in the cardholder are settled in to sleep or, like me, beavering away quietly on their computers. there's no wifi but there are power outlets beside each seat. i could literally do this all night, if i wanted to. while i type, i have creedence clearwater revival playing. suzie q right now but it's a great collection of their best songs in my itunes...

so i don't know... i had planned on spending quite a bit of time in portland, and given that baseball season starts soon i could even catch the train up to seattle and see the mariners play again. i really did enjoy that, last trip, despite the rest of the meh-ness of visiting seattle. but i could comfortably spend some more time in boston.

i have a bit of a headache. i don't know if it's a slightly stuffy nose or too much mac-and-cheese. i'm leaning towards the stuffy nose: how could i have too much mac-and-cheese?


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