Last week, a minor emergency prompted a last-minute change to an already postponed family visit to Western New York State. Not wanting to call off my long-awaited and now necessary trip, I purchased a round-trip ticket from New York to Rochester on Amtrak’s Empire Service line.
As an individual long ago seduced by train travel, I was excited for my journey. For most of the day, I would be cloistered from the world: the demands of home and work would not be pressing me. My bag was packed with books, pens, notebooks, food, and a laptop. I needed nothing else.
Shortly after departing New York Penn Station, the passing scenery settled any lingering doubts over my mode of travel.
Time slowed down on the train, much as it would for one on a silent spiritual retreat. Looking out my window, I glimpsed at the majestic landscapes captured by the Hudson River School and other artists, poets, and writers.
The Empire Service line passes through small and large New York cities.
Although many identify New York with Niagara Falls or Manhattan, the state is largely rural–cities and suburbs with vast, open stretches in between.
Another reason to take the train: most stations are centrally located–not in some nightmarish infrastructure node on a highway as are most airports. Waiting for my return train in Rochester, I looked up and saw the Kodak Tower. A reminder that the city once stood as a creative and technological center.
Riding the train provides one with a relaxing and daresay civilized way to travel. No pat-downs. No security lines. No air sickness. While riding the train, you might enjoy the scenery, the quiet, and the moment. Simple luxuries increasingly difficult to obtain and experience.
If given the option, why not ride the train?