Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Great Little Train Ride


A town on my side of the state has a restored train that’s almost a 100 years old that they run back and forth to another town a short fourteen miles away. This time of the year it runs for fall color and pumpkin peeping tours but they also do murder mystery excursions, bunny runs in the spring, Santa runs in December and the ever popular Great Train Robberies plus the three car train can be booked for private parties. You can also book special rides on just the engine or the engine pulling the caboose. I’ve wanted to go on this train for a couple of years now and last summer my Red Hat Society chapter took the trip but on a day when I had a long-standing doctor appointment that I couldn’t change without waiting another four months. I was a tad miffed since it was my suggestion that started the ball rolling. But they voted on the date, majority rules and that was that. Democracy, you’ve gotta love it even when it sucks. 

I got another chance to take the train this week when three of my Gathering Girl pals and I managed to get tickets on an excursion sponsored by our senior hall. I hadn’t been on a train since the mid ‘60s when I went to Chicago on a Christmas shopping trip with a group of 10-12 other twenty-somethings in a service sorority I belonged to back in those days. What I remember the most about that group are the candlelight induction ceremonies, the Jackie ‘O’ classic sweaters most of us wore and all the tea and cookies we served for God knows who around the community. Hoity-toity groups like the Daughters of the American Revolutionary War. Who knows why we were there, maybe they were too old to bake their own, darn cookies. It’s a mystery that’s lost in my old brain. I was only in the group a couple of years. Apparently that’s all the candlelight-minus-a-male-across-a-table I could stand. 

Back on topic: The day of the great train ride finally came, a crisp day that had us all wearing winter coats but that didn’t dull my anticipation of having a good time except for the possibility of having to pee while on the train. The only thing I remember about my earlier train ride to Chicago is how hard it was to accomplish that task on a train that swayed from side to side when I was still young enough to hover over public toilet seats instead of actually sitting on them. Growing up my mom drilled it into me that I’d die of a dreadful disease if I didn’t hover, which I did most of my life until my knees got so bad I couldn’t do it anymore. Was that too much information? Thankfully, I didn’t have to pee on this train ride, but I did check out the bathroom and it didn’t look like an outhouse inside like the one I remembered from my ‘60s train ride. Historical accuracy is great in restoration projects but I draw a line at wooden stabs with holes cut in the top and calling it good enough.

Our senior hall bus delivered us to a railroad museum first where we had lunch before getting on the train and getting our tickets punched by a conductor dressed for the 1900s. $39 covered the bus transportation, lunch and the train ride. Not a bad deal for a fun afternoon if the food had been eatable. Those who ordered the beef said it was too tough to eat, while those of us who had the chicken were happily satisfied. My travel mates offered their beef for Levi’s dinner and since I had a pocket full of plastic bags (to pick up poop on his walks) I took it. He loved it but the tough beef and empty stomachs gave we Gathering Girls an excuse to have donuts and coffee after the train ride was over during the time allotted for us to shop the small town while waiting for the bus to take us back home. Our senior hall director thinks no day trip is complete if it doesn't include shopping time.

The train coach seats were designed in such a way that two people faced two others, so close together that our knees were miserably close and overlapping. Before the train was rolling we moved to the dining car. It was great, lots of room to spread out since only eight of the 50 of us on the train made the switch. The conductor was dressed in period garb and as he punched our tickets he got teased about not spelling out words like the conductor on the Polar Express. Having never seen the movie someone had to explain the joke to me. A singer with a guitar sang railroad themed songs for half of our ride and we really got silly taking part in the sing-alongs but otherwise as the train car swayed back and forth it could have easily wooed us to sleep. Someone had an app to measure how fast we were going and we never made it over 12 miles an hour. Why does anyone need an app for that? Are you going to measure how fast you walk? How fast your Uber driver is going? Or maybe a roller-coaster? Inquiring minds want to know. But until a plausible answer comes along I let me say I'm glad I got to check this great little train ride off my Bucket List. ©



34 comments:

  1. Oh my Jean. This my type of enjoyment, riding a train, any train, old or new. On our 25th anniversary we stayed at Port Stanly, Ontario of Lake Erie. It was a small little town but it had a place for different shows. What I really enjoyed was the train ride small train ride to St. Thomas on a train they fixed up. It wasn't much but just sitting there slowly going down the track I loved it. When I had to go to the hospital in Toronto, We took the train. I would rather take a train then drive the car because driving in a big city scares. I want to take the train to Chicago one of these days. MY cousins took it an they said it was great. My dream is to take the VIA train from Windsor to Toronto straight threw Canadian provinces to Vancouver, BC. Now that would be a hoot. You have to sleep during the night seeing the provinces during the days, stopping different small towns when the engines need diesel fuel and then off you go again. That is my dream.
    LOL, yes that was a little more then I wanted to here about the washroom. I closed my eyes and ouch I wanted back on my cruise quickly. Ha,ha,ha. Have a great Saturday my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. The tourist agendas down here have great packages for traveling by train in Canada, especially for color tours. I'm not sure I'd like to spend a whole week or two on a train but I've seen some wonderful slide shows of the scenery up there. Some of those trestles in the mountains are scary tall!

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  2. Your mother and my mother must have been from the same "hovering" generation. When I was a kid she always admonished me to hover when we were out somewhere and had to use the bathroom in a store. Like you, I don't bother with that anymore. I saw some funny signs once for a couple of outdoor toilets that had pictures of dogs on them. The women's was "Setters" and the men's was "Pointers."

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    1. The 'setters' and 'pointers' really cracked me up. How funny and creative but probably confused a few kids.

      I can even remember being very young and my mom actually holding me over a toilet seat because I was too small to hover and too old to wear diapers. Must have been some nasty stuff going around back in those days. LOL

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  3. Love trains..wish we had lots of good train travel in our country like Europe.
    I never was a hoverer...just made sure the seat and bowl looked clean and seat dry. On a rare occasion I’d would use toilet paper for lining. And I’m still alive and well after all this time. Just be sure and wash your hands šŸ˜Š

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    1. We do really need a good rail system in this country. Probably not going to see it in our live times.

      They say that public toilet seats have less germs than the door knobs/door surfaces in public bathrooms. I wash my hands and try not to touch anything on my way out.

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    2. Many moons ago when I took a microbiology course, the teacher sent us out to take swab samples from the toilet seat, door latches, door knobs and other spots in the public bathroom. We also each did a swab from inside our ears. We plated these out in petri dishes and left them for about a week. There was hardly anything from the bathroom, but the dish with the ear swabs had a huge growth of Aspergillus, a common mold. What a surprise that was!

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    3. Wow, that is a surprise about our ears. Makes me want to go swab mine out with something like vinegar or dog ear drops. LOL

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  4. My Mother layered the seat with toilet paper before I sat. Some public bathrooms had a dispenser with "seat covers", I can remember how thrilled she was when she saw that dispenser. i love train rides!!!

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    1. I can remember my mom doing the same thing. Do you remember the blue lighted toilet seats that were supposed to kill the germs? It had to be in the late 40's because the one I remember was in a movie theater we went to in that decade. And of course I remember the paper seat covers which on rare occasions I still find...just last week in fact.

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  5. Never was a hoverer so I spent a good portion of my public toilet life examining the seat carefully to see what damp surprise the last hoverer might have left me. Lately it seems the hoverers have left the building. Maybe it is that knee thing.
    Lucky you on the train ride. I have a fantasy of getting on a train each night and riding it till morning--sleeping peacefully. So relaxing.

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    1. I never left evidence of my hovering behind for none hovers to find. LOL

      I can imagine the swaying motion of a train would be great for sleeping, like being in the womb.

      The people restoring the train is working on a car that will be wheelchair friendly. I'd always hoped they'd get it done before my husband died but it's all volunteers and work is slow. It's it's nearly done, though.

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  6. What fun! I haven't been on a train since my 7th grade field trip to Williamsburg, VA, or was it Richmond? Anyway, it was fun. At our last house, which is only five minutes from this house, we could hear the train whistle. I love that sound. I can only here it if I'm outside at this house. It's a little further away, and this house is all brick, so it's more insulated from sound.

    This is right up my alley. I will check and see if the train near us has anything like this. H just said he remembered a Santa train when he was a kid.

    P.S. I was raised to be a hoverer, too. That's why I'm so happy to see seat covers in public restrooms. I always feel like I've hit the jackpot.

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    1. I love that sound, too, and we got to hear it a lot. The people who live along the tracks all waved to us, too. That was fun. I can't imagine you NOT having a historical train to ride in your area of the country.

      So far, the hoverers are in the majority in these comments. LOL

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    2. We do have a train stop in a small historical town near us. I don't 'know if they do the kind of rides you went on.

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  7. NOT a hoverer. In Europe there are still many hover style toilet ... I preferred to pay for an American toilet! But that explains why so many ladies wear dresses and skirts.

    We have a restored trolley that goes from our suburb to downtown Portland and back. I've sign us up for the Tinsel Town Trolley in December! I hope the houses on the way decorate for us!!

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    1. Good point on the skirts and dresses in Europe.

      Those houses will, I'm sure. With the train I took this week, the back yards of the houses face the tracks and they decorated those but the town does benefit from the tours who come ride on the train and it's a town of less than 4,000 people.

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  8. I've always wanted to take a cross country train trip. Might still do it one day. And I always thought the train trips in Canada looked awesome but now with my vertigo I'm kind of afraid of those high trestles! Of course, being an Agatha Christie fan of the highest order, the Orient Express...oh, to go on that!

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    1. Those high trestles are scary! I guess we have to trust they get inspected regularly. I don't read Christie but those oriental express 'parties'look fun

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  9. Glad you enjoyed the trip! We have a similar train experience that I have taken, and supper was included also. I thought the food was good and the scenery was excellent. The only fly in the ointment was that a car raced the train at a crossing and lost. So we were delayed a bit due to having to sort that out. Luckily the stupid driver was only clipped by the train...people!

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    1. That would be a scary event. I actually thought about a car/train accident when I saw cars waiting on rural roads with no crossing arms. Glad old trains are being restored.

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  10. We used to be in the catering business and had to do food safety and cleanliness courses. I remember one of the surprises to do with toilets was that the most neglected and unclean part is the flush handle. You touch it before you reach the sink!!
    I always hover (and consider it fortunate that I still can) but don’t particularly like to use the toilets on trains or ferries for that reason. I ride a lot of trains when I am in England and adore them as a means of travel. They are simply too slow and inefficient on so many lines here in the US, although the Albany to NYC line is good! We take a ferry from NY to Vermont across Lake Champlain once every few months when we go to Burlington Vermont (its our big city experience!). I time my bathroom stops so I don’t have to use the toilet on the ferry!
    For a couple of weeks I have been reading your blog but haven’t commented. My quilt group is having an exhibition next weekend and I am trying to get as much finished as I can before then. It has had the added benefit of keeping me from reading the awful news as much but I didn’t get to comment on your blog.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. The town where the train musuem is has a huge quilting community and they do a show ever fall. We got to see some of the entries on or visit. Very traditional quilts. The kind like you do are more likely to be in art shows around here. I love both styles and I can only imagine how much time you spend creating.

      I have always used my knuckle to flush, not the end of my finger. Just in case those germs run up my arm before I reach the sink. LOL

      We have a ferry that goes from Michigan to Chicago. I'd kind of like to take it sometime but the only trips I've run into are for shopping and I'm not big on shopping.

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  11. What a cool day! (well except for food) I love taking the train. I did that for many many years with my job. They still have cars where you are facing one another. Now, they just go faster than 12mph. And why do you need that app? My bucket list would be VIA Rail across Canada through the rockies. I hear that is a beautiful trip!

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    1. I'm guessing the seats face each other because the cars and be pulled from the front or back and if all the seats faced the same way, then on some trips the passengers would all be riding backward, instead of just half of them. They switch the engine from the front to the back of the train, but not always the whole train...at least on the old ones, not sure about the new ones.

      That app still cracks me up. If I had been sitting near the woman who had it, I would have asked.

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  12. Here in NEO we have the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which sounds a little similar to your train and its various events. I last went on it for the Wine Train, during which a group of us tasted wines and accompanying foods as the train made its way along.

    The waiters pouring didn't do a very good job of remembering who they had served, so lots of people drained their glasses and stuck them out again, empty, as if they had been missed first time around. By the time the train pulled in at the end, it was a much warmer, noisier train than what had pulled out.

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  13. A wine train sounds like lots of fun. It would be hard to pour a liquid on a moving train, though. We only got water bottles. I don't think they ever do wine tastings. It's all volunteers that work on and run the train.

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  14. Sounds like fun. Lost my comment here, so will just say glad you enjoyed and have had some hovering tales, too.

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    1. Lost comments happen to us all from time to time.

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  15. Sounds like a fun trip. We have a similar thing here, although the route is much longer over the mountains to a tourist town that hosts Autumn Octoberfest, spring Maifest, and the Christmas Train takes visitors to the big tree lighting ceremony. I've always wanted to go, but it also is pricy and crowded so I talk myself out of it every time. You inspire me to just do it!

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    1. You could ask which trains/days and times are the least used. Our weekend trains are booked tight but the weekdays are not.

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  16. My mom didn't teach me to hover, but to wipe the seat before AND after you sit on it, and to flush the toilet with my foot.

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    1. I had forgotten about flushing with your foot. I used to be able to do that a lONG long time ago. LOL I wonder what mom's teach today.

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    2. P.S. I wonder why the quit making public toilets with an actual foot peddle to use to flush. Anyone remember them? They didn't last long if memory serves me right.

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