Thursday, August 7, 2008

Riding the Rails

Today Diana and I are taking the Bullet Train to Matsuyama! I’m not exactly sure what distance we’re traveling or how fast the train goes, but I’m hoping it’s super-duper fast.

However long it takes, it can’t possibly be longer than the longest train trip I’ve ever taken: that would be the 24+ hours it used to take to travel between Washington DC and Chicago. Yes, you read that right. Apparently Amtrak has picked up the pace a little since I used to frequent that route back in the mid-90’s. Currently they list the travel time as being between 17 and 18 hours. Although, I also used to take a route that went via Cincinnati that doesn't appear to exist anymore. Maybe that one was longer.

Of course, according to Google Maps it only takes 11 hours and 20 minutes to drive from Chicago to DC. A bullet train, like the ones they have in Japan, could travel the distance in about 4 hours, provided you could get through the mountains in a straight enough line. (A maglev train could do it in 2.)

One year, as I headed to school in the fall, I said good-bye to my sister and headed into Chicago to catch the train. By the time I arrived in DC, my sister had gone to the airport, flown to Hong Kong, and arrived home (she lived in Hong Kong). That’s just wrong.

Another time I was racing back to Chicago at the end of the school year. My other sister and I had plans to go to the Cubs game the afternoon I arrived, but just outside of Cleveland the train hit a tree. Yes, you read that right too. The suicidal tree jumped right out in front of the train. I'm not kidding. A landslide along the tracks threw the tree into our path. We had to sit and wait a really long time while they brought out another engine to take us the rest of the way. To apologize for the delay, they bought the entire train McDonald's. The minor league hockey player I was sitting next to was thrilled because that meant he had enough money to buy a drink on the train from Chicago to Minneapolis where he was to meet up with his new team. My sister met me at the train station and we just made it to the game before the first pitch. Ah, the adventures of riding the rails.


  1. How, oh, how do you find the time to blog? YOU'RE IN JAPAN!

  2. Took up to 12 hours to get from San Francisco to San Bernardino. Essentially, one rides the train to Bakersfield, and then a Bus to LA, and then the train to San Bernardino.
    But I love the train, I love how it only takes a little while to get your train legs. My mom and I rode from Los Angeles to Orlando, by way of Sante Fe, Chicago, Philly, and DC. On the way back went through Denver. Snow. in August.
    Sleeper cars are groovy, but the potties freak me out.


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