Turning 65 has its perks and I’m not talking about Medicare and Social Security.
One of the benefits Papa and I have realized as we’ve entered into retirement age is that we have more free time to travel, just the two of us.
Back in June, Papa took a respite from his part-time job and we made good use of an open week for travel, available to us since Little One (our oldest grandchild who we babysit) and her mama were vacationing at the beach.
In the months prior, we had tossed around several ideas about where we should vacation. We thought about a road trip westward to knock off a few more states on my “Visit All 50 U.S. States” list (South and North Dakota and Montana), but decided to table that for another time.
Honestly, just the thought of a long car ride out there exhausted us and we realized what we really needed was a trip for relaxation purposes having just ended a busy season of life. A trip that wouldn’t require hours and hours of traveling.
So plans changed while we debated where we should go. We finally settled on visiting Maryland even though we have toured through the state often. This time we ventured to areas we hadn’t been before.
While researching sights to see, we discovered a train trip that promised to be a source of relaxation. Papa loves trains. Papa loves riding on trains. Papa loves reading about trains. Papa, whose father retired from a railroad career, has always been fascinated by that mode of transportation.
So early one Sunday morning at o’dark thirty (as former military man Papa often says), we left our home and drove to Maryland where we boarded the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for a leisurely three-hour trip through the Allegheny Mountains on a nice summer day.
It proved to be a trip we won’t forget in more ways than one.
On the first leg of the train ride, I surveyed our passenger car, which only had a few people seated in it. Because there weren’t many folks in our particular car, you would think the journey would be rather peaceful and restful. Just what Papa and I were hoping for.
Swaying a little back and forth to the rhythm of the train’s motion as it clackety-clacks along the railroad tracks is a soothing experience unless you have motion sickness, which neither of us does.
Viewing lovely scenery out the train windows on a beautiful, sunny day gives you a sense of relaxation as well. We’ve found train trips are a calming and comforting way to travel.
“Trains are wonderful…. To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life.” ~ Agatha Christie
Enjoying another journey in life, that’s what we had hoped to do. But despite the lack of a train car full of people, I found the first hour of our trip anything but restful. Why? Because of one small group of people (all adults) in the car with us. One loud group of people.
Those folks relished talking – no, not merely conversing, but practically shouting at each other and guffawing rowdily over their stories. And then their stories, which one couldn’t help but hear, turned to gossiping.
Neither Papa nor I wanted to hear about someone who this group declared bi-polar. We didn’t want to hear tales of that poor soul’s mental illness or that several therapists are being seen all at the same time. There was no way one couldn’t overhear their extremely loud dialogue.
Some things just aren’t meant for public discussion, you know? I turned to glance at Papa several times through the first hour of our ride, raising my eyebrows as if to say, “Can you believe this?” He just rolled his eyes and shook his head.
It was hard to turn our attention to the sights outside our window and relax. Because those folks were so involved in their yakking it up, I noticed that not one of them even glanced out the windows to partake of the sights. From my observation, the entire group engrossed in their discussion didn’t even seem to be enjoying the train ride at all. And I thought to myself, “Then why take a train trip?”
Their behavior definitely disturbed the first part of our journey, but that wasn’t all. One of the people – a middle-aged woman – could NOT SIT STILL. Up and down out of her seat, she constantly hopped or walked back and forth down the aisle. Next she found the snack car and bounced back and forth between our car and that one. She flitted from one seat to another all the while talking and laughing boisterously to her companions.
She was like a whirling dervish. And honestly, it was distracting and annoying and anything but restful and relaxing to witness.
We were relieved when the train pulled into the station at the destination and everyone exited. We had a one-hour “layover” to grab a bite of lunch or explore this stop along the ride before boarding once again for the return trip.
Papa and I had packed a small lunch and we found a quiet picnic area away from the maddening crowd, who by now had taken their noisy selves up the hill to visit the town.
As we munched on lunch, my thoughts centered on what we had just experienced and I hoped that we would not have to endure a repeat performance on our hour-long trip back. We were thankful for the peace and quiet as we ate and later sat on a park bench basking in the sunshine.
I was hopeful that when we boarded the train for the return trip, we could sit in a different car away from the “noisy neighbors.”
And that’s when this thought occurred to me – some folks just don’t know how to sit back, be still, and enjoy the ride in life.
That’s why Papa and I took the train trip – to enjoy the ride. To add some fun and relaxation to life all at the same time.
Little did we imagine that our next experience on that train would be a once in a lifetime occurrence. But that story will have to wait until tomorrow. Yep, tune in tomorrow for the next sequence of our railroad excursion.
“I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.” ~ Johnny Depp