Travelog Part 1 – the journey begins

[Portland, OR —a dream the night before we left. I am in middle eastern country, Iran I decide. I am staying with a family, and it is dinnertime. I am nervous about not knowing the customs, and offending someone. The entire dream is imbued with a sense of anticipation. Suddenly, I am in a shop and there are two large framed objects in the center of the shop. The shopkeeper tells me I should look at them, but when I move them to see what it is, one falls over. At first I think it’s alright, but when I lift it back upright, I see that it is a mirror, and it is broken. I apologize to the shopkeeper, and he tells me not to worry, it is his fault for leaving them in the middle of the room. He has a scowl on his face, but I don’t know how to read it. Is he pissed at me, or is he just angry because of lost merchandise?

Shortly after this there is a loud rumbling sound. We run outside, and I am aware that a war is going on. Suddenly a plane comes out of the sky, and crashes in flames before us. EOD

Somehow, I think this dream has something to do with the impending vacation, so I include it here.

A found poem on the signs in Union Station:

arrivals departures
from the trains to the trains
to the trains waiting
room parcels news
cigars exit to street

okay, maybe it was an acid flashback, but it seemed like something at the time. —duane]

Sometimes the train rocks so violently that it seems likely it will jump the tracks. When it happens at night it wakes all but the heaviest sleepers. The tracks are rugged from Portland through the Rockies across Montana and North Dakota and up until Minneapolis-St Paul. Then it’s smooth as the tracks follow the Mississippi and on through Wisconsin all the way to Chicago. After Chicago the track worsens and is rougher than ever before. The train jumps and rolls, clanks and clatters its way through nothernmost Indiana and Ohio, through the narrowest bit of Pennsylvania and all the way to Rochester. It never seems to ride easy for very long. We left the train at Rochester so we don’t know about the ride from that point onward. On our return trip a couple of girls were in the front of our coach kept gasping as the train lurched and jerked. The train attendant allayed their fears. It was only after we got home that we found out there had been a train derailment along the Columbia near Carson and Wind River earlier this month. Perhaps the girls had been paying more attention to the news during the last few weeks that we had done. We are glad we didn’t know about it.

[Spokane, WA — We arrived in Spokane in the middle of the night. This is where the Portland leg and the Seattle leg of the Empire Builder are joined, so there is about a two hour wait. While sleeping I had a second trip-related dream:

I am on the train and it comes to the end of a track, going off of the rail and into a shopping mall. There is no fear associated with this. I get off of the train and am in Spokane. I have just moved here. As I am walking to my new apartment, I am confronted by four young men. One pulls a knife, and I realize that they are neo-nazis. I can tell that they are bluffing, so I walk away. They don’t follow. When I get to my apartment, my roommate is there. I have never met him before. The roommate, who is gay, is with a friend, and they want to go to an art studio they have something to do with. I wonder if he is an artist. They ask if I would like to go along. I say okay, but when we get outside, there is a parade going on. Some kind of childrens’ parade, but it is huge, and there is no way to get where we want to go without walking miles out of our way. Somehow we end up at the art studio, which is more like a gallery. This dream is very colorful. —Duane ]

An elderly couple sat across the aisle from us. They were heading to Fargo, ND and were from Astoria, OR. They really liked to travel by train the man confided. He talked about how his family meets up in Arizona every year. He had a tendency to repeat himself and to forget some of what I told him and would repeat questions I had already answered. He was a sweet old guy and was clearly having a good time. We hit Fargo around 4 am or later and I was fast asleep when they left the train.

It was late March and there was still snow on the ground in the western part of Montana. We went through Whitefish in the morning and a group of Junior High kids entrained. They were with us for a long way. Too long. They were very noisy and seemed to spill out everywhere, taking all the chairs in the lounge and all the tables in the lower lounge. It was a relief when they left the train.

Our eyes were mostly glued to the scene passing by our windows and somewhere in the mountains after Whitefish, out in a field in the snow we saw a man and a dog. The man was dancing and the dog was jumping. The man was lifting his legs up high in an exaggerated dance. It caught us so by surprise and we laughed. A number of people in our car saw him and laughed. Then I heard a woman up ahead say, “That’s my son. He told me to look for him. That’s his place. He says that he dances for the trains if he is out in the field when one goes by.” There is something about this that has captured my heart. His dance was pure joy and pure joy to watch. This man was dancing for his mother that morning, but most of the time he is dancing for strangers and his only reward is what he imagines. He cannot even know if people see him out there. At that distance he and the dog were just black figures against the white snow.

Also with us from somewhere in Washington until Minneapolis was a group of Missionaries-in-training led by a self-important fellow. In the evening (our second evening, their first & only), he gathered the eager group around him and explained that since they did not have the orientation that the groups normally get, he would be willing to provide this to them in the morning. The orientation would involve an overview of the Bible and he would conduct it in the train car. I did not think I was too loud when I said that I really did not want to be subjected to it. However, I was loud enough, according to Duane, that I apparantly gave courage to a woman a couple of rows up who loudly complained, “What about the rest of us? What if we don’t want to hear it?” The leader claimed that they would be very quiet. I don’t know what transpired, as we went for breakfast very early and sat in the lounge car afterward.