Greetings! I am publishing this post while aboard the Amtrak #58, traveling from New Orleans, LA, all the way to Chicago, IL. With more than 900 miles between destinations — I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s been an interesting ride on the “Spacious Superliner.”
Really, this is my first time traveling via train. I like planes. I like driving, too, but I also like to sleep, drink, and sometimes, read. A train, I figured offers the best of all worlds, while offering an affordable ride, with a view to write about (that’s what I do).
I rode the train as a child, from Indianapolis to Chicago, and remember feeling ill — which is why I packed Dramamine. Other than that, I’ve never been aboard a train. And I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have “Love Train” stuck in my head for the entire trip (see my Twitter account for proof of this).
To make my ride as comfortable (and as fun) as possible, I purchased some travel essentials specifically for the train:
Of course, I packed a few snacks, drinks, and loaded up my iPad with tons of books (of the romance variety). For the sake of blogging and Tweeting along the route, I brought my own WiFi, via my T-Mobile HotSpot.
While I had reserved a seat on the upper-level of the train car, the seat was first-come-first-serve. I was thankful to get a window seat. Honestly, I expected the train to be like a bus… but I was in shock at how nice it is. It’s clean, and roomy (stretching my legs out all the way, I still can’t touch the seat in front of me).
I did a little bit of work on the train, but was really excited to get started on a book. So, aside from chatting with my fellow passengers, I read most of the 19-hour journey.
As we approached Greenwood, Mississippi, I was able to catch the sunset, and many of my readers may remember, that I am a sucker for sunsets and sunrises — I think they are the most beautiful things to see. I was all smiles to see that sunset.
Around 8pm, we stopped the train for a “cigarette break” and I checked out the observation car (which was very cool), and purchased a sandwich for dinner, along with some wine.
I fell asleep around midnight, and awoke as we were traveling over a bridge, and could see two boats on the water.
About a month ago, I went on a date with someone whom I told my upcoming trip about. Having traveled a similar route, he told me to pay the extra money for the sleeper car, to avoid meeting people. He also said there was “nothing to see” on the way.
Call me a sap, but miles of fields, a sunset, water, neighborhoods… that’s amazing to see. And of course, I set my alarm to wake up in time for the sunrise.
It wasn’t until I woke around 5:30 am that I realized I’d gotten a passenger in the seat next to me (the train stops nearly every hour) — she was already asleep. At a reasonable hour, I asked her what time she got on the train and where she was headed (4:30, Milwaukee…if you’re curious).
So, what am I doing in Chicago? While my train ride wasn’t necessarily full of love (although everyone was kind), my trip is. I’m in Chicago for a wedding — quite possibly an epic wedding — and of course, to see my friends.
Traveling, and especially traveling alone, always leaves time to reflect. And often, when I’m traveling home, to the Midwest, I wonder what exactly I was hoping to find when I left. I really wanted to land a Southern gentleman… but I’m still waiting for that to happen.
Sometimes I wonder if what I was hoping for isn’t still waiting for me right here, at the end of the train tracks.
Saturday night, my friend Liz was celebrating 10 years living in Louisiana! She invited me to join in her celebration — and it felt special, because not only have I been in Louisiana for ten years, too, but I’ve known Liz for most of those years!
I asked my friend and gym-influencer, Derek, to join me, and we made a day of it, traveling to New Orleans to go shopping (where I found a great sparkle skirt for $10), have lunch (oyster club & a house-made summer ale), and then we went to the party.
It really was a fabulous day, and night, so worthy of my pic of the week. I got to see some friends I haven’t seen in awhile (some in years) and I met plenty of new ones, and had some great conversation — pay no mind that it was laced with champagne bubbles.
Derek and I even learned a new game: Get Buckets. It involves tossing baby satsumas onto a roof and cheering it on to… “Get buckets!”
I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately, and it’s weird… When I left Indiana to live here, I never thought I’d reach the ten year mark. But I have.
I don’t know if I’ll stay in Louisiana forever — there are definitely other places I’ve dreamt of living. But no matter where I go, I can say with certainty that this place has had a great effect on my heart.
I guess I feel that I was following my instincts, and at the same time being guided by the best. I became totally intrigued with Louisiana — the people, the food. It is a part of my life. Everything that has happened for me since moving here has just been icing on the cake.
I hate admitting this, but I almost (almost) forgot how hot Channing Tatum is.
Until I watched The Vow and Dear John back-to-back, and promptly went to the theatre to see 22 Jump Street.
Mr. Tatum is a southern boy, native to Alabama (we’ll forgive you), known for his work in Step Up and Step Up 2, This is The End, Magic Mike, The Dilemma, and the G.I. Joe series, among many others. It will come as no surprise that he’s spent time modeling for popular clothing companies, including Abercrombie & Fitch.
He won Best Actor for his work in Dear John, Best Actor for Foxcatcher, and was named one of Glamour Magazine’s 50 hottest men in 2013.
Sadly, he is married, and has a child. But he also owns an awesome bar in New Orleans, called Saints & Sinners, and it’s pretty rad, if you haven’t been there yet, you should definitely check it out.
But, if you’re anything like me, you still can’t get that “Pony” scene out of your head from Magic Mike. So, I’ll leave you with it (just click the pic).
I got crazy lucky. Like, sometimes I think I won the lottery or something. At times it feels like the bottom’s gonna fall out. Just ’cause I don’t really know how I got here. But I just keep moving forward, and it just keeps getting better and better.