19 June 2019
Notes from a train somewhere in Iowa.
I boarded the California Zephyr to Chicago yesterday evening in Denver. In Chicago, I will transfer to the Capitol Limited to Washington DC. A few days in the DC suburbs with my lovely daughter and her husband, a baseball game, a haircut, a prenatal appointment with the lovely daughter and her husband, a few lunches and happy hours with friends, and then on to a plane to Lisbon, Portugal.
Somehow the “Lisbon, Portugal” as I wrote it sounded in my head like the description of the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right: Lizzzz-bon PORT-you-gull. Seven days and nights under the guidance of trained REI tour guides, you and a companion will walk from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain!
From what I can see, there are no city sidewalks in Osceola. A few houses have sidewalks which are in very poor shape and a real danger for an elder trying to get around. I don’t know that I would want to attempt the buckled, cracked, and weed-grown mess! Perhaps it’s the flooding that Iowa gets every year, but especially this year when the weather has gone crazy all over the globe. At least some are beginning to admit there is real climate change going on, even if they won’t accept responsibility for causing or changing it. That tends to happen when the weather starts costing big dollars in losses, not to mention lives. So Iowa is sodden, the sidewalks are broken, and the corn has not yet been planted in the marshy fields.
Speaking of wet, it rained a good bit of the night, and it is a gray and sodden morning. It makes the greens of the various trees (and there are SO many) just brilliant. Verdant. Lush. Every now and then the train passes an area that has seen a tornado in the distant past. The trees there are shortened sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much; the angry, broken and bare limbs at the tops of the trees, poking through the new lush growth are the script of the story.
I’m being challenged by no connectivity today. I cannot even read the books on my Kindle, since I did not think to download to my device. I’m trying to be philosophical about it. After all, I’m going on Camino, a pilgrimage. I should be prepared to detach from the internet, and the news, and emails from precious friends. I can see this is going to be more of a challenge than I had thought.
I’ve already met and talked to so many interesting people, beginning on the train platform. People taking trains are taking a trip and they want to tell you about it, and they want to hear about yours. These are people who travel, and read, and know how to make proper conversation at a dinner table without delving into politics or religion. People taking airplanes are often just getting from here to there with no other thought about it and no concern for the miles and visions passing under their seats. I know. I have been one of them. These days, I always take the window seat on the plane so I can look out and see where I’m going. Sometimes it’s only clouds, but sometimes I get super lucky. The Grand Canyon from above on an early clear morning is one of the only ways to appreciate how enormous and stunning a treasure it is. I will never forget glimpsing Greenland and the ice floes on one trip home from Europe, or the emotions I felt coming down the Potomac into DC, past Arlington and the monuments — glimpsing the WWII Memorial for the first time as we were dropping in to land.
Always take the window seat. There are lessons in the clouds, too.