Training all the way (train vs plane)


I am currently in the midst of experiencing that which most people are afraid to experience…a 34 hour train ride x2 (as opposed to a 5-8 hour plane ride). My verdict? I’m probably going to do it again. Not just because I’m a train fanatic; though this I am, but rather because my ride on this train trip has been by far more comfortable and hassle free than anything the airport or any plane for that matter could produce.

The seats are uncannily spacious. Ok, when a man like me can fully extend his legs and wiggle them yet still have room to spare? That’s what I call leg room. Moreover, there’s enough space laterally to where you don’t feel like you’re intruding into your neighbor space. Not to mention the fact that there is also electrical outlets which helps in the battery upkeep of my handy dandy IPod.

The windows are HUGE with ample viewing area. However, if you get an isle seat (like I have pretty much all throughout this trip) there is always the observation car whose windows are considerably larger (for obvious reasons). Moreover, unlike air travel which you are forced to look at the monotony of a clear/cloudy/stormy sky through a pee sized window; the train brings you face to face with mountains, rivers, fields, towns, industrial zones, oceans, farms, etc. There is always something new to see and enjoy!

What about restrooms? Well, as opposed to a plane where you are restricted to one (two on bigger planes) the train (Capitol limited) has about six, with one changing room.
Furthermore, you are more than welcome to stand up and use them whenever you want. In fact, you don’t even have to sit back down if you don’t want to, because on a train you can walk around. Forget those belt buckles that you have to wear due to possible turbulence; further restricting you to a suffocating, cramped seat.

Security? No frisking/x-raying here. You walk in, hand them your ticket and you board. That’s not to say that security is lax. Quite the opposite, the cops are out in force with their dogs sniffing every bag for possible threats. Truth be told I feel safer in a train station than an airport (and less stresses out too).

In reality, the only advantage the airplane has over train travel is speed. But when you see the things I have seen on this trip (pics coming soon), speed really is not that big of an issue.

Verdict? From now on, I will try my hardest to travel by train wherever I go. If time demands speed, then I will consider the airplane (but only after much deliberation). Needless to say, I have really enjoyed this trip and I recommend anyone and everyone to try an Amtrak ride.

PS. No I don’t get paid by Amtrak for this lol. (But I would not mind working for them :).

Panhandler’s paradise


On a diverse food court, my touristic apparel is almost camouflaged by the gamut of transverse personality all rushing to one place or the other. Key word in the previous sentence being “almost”. I am convinced there is a “sucker” sign stapled on me somewhere for in the midst of this traveler quagmire, the panhandlers have fine tuned their antennas and to my surprise I seem to be the target!

Now I believe in helping the poor; the ones in need; the ones in pain for when mercy is given, mercy is returned. That and God also told us to take care of the poor. However, when I read reports that panhandlers make over 35k a year (with little to no expenses mind you) and further I see them buying booze at the local market, I can’t help but to feel angered and overly cynical of any and all panhandlers.

To be clear, I am not ignorant of the fact that there are indeed people out there who need the goodwill of some. Indeed, I am positive that there are many out there who find themselves at the mercy of the generosity of the few. But this fact serves only to anger me more! Due to the laziness, selfishness, and parasitical nature of some, the ones who truly need help suffer from the byproduct of cynicism resulting from the actions of these depraved.

I have heard stories of people who have fallen in hard times only to do the unthinkable (work minimum wage) while they get back on their feet. Doing things that no one wants to do. Labor in ways that would almost put slave labor to shame and all of this because there is a hunger for survival that genuine hardship creates.

To further clarify; I am we’ll aware that some of these on the streets may suffer from some form of handicap that may prevent them from being effective on their zeal to overcome adversity. However, these handicaps are; for the most part, easily recognizable from a simple conversation. On the other hand the professional free loafers I refer to are not only mentally capable, but physically capable as well to contribute to society.

Very Scrooge-like of me…I know. But if Jesus was angered at the thievery taking place in the temple when he was here on earth, I wonder if the same would not apply to these…people. I could be wrong. Maybe I need God to soften my heart. Indeed I am not perfect nor are my sins less than the free loader’s.

Nevertheless, so help me! If one more panhandler asks me for money, I may just lose my Christianity for a brief moment. (Thank God that’s not really possible).

A Subway sub on a Chicago moment


As I sit inside a Subway restaurant in Chicago, I take the moment to admire the magnificent downtown. With its imposing high rises; prolific in architectural detail, I am in awe of the richness of it all.

A seagull rises from the river as it catches an updraft propelling to speeds not common for such type of bird. Yet the juxtaposition of the natural and the man made; commonly at odds, here find harmony.

My view veers to the left as I capture others who appear to be tourists like myself, yet from a different home country. Germany perhaps? Indeed, it’s a sunny day with a bountiful promise of cheer and delight.

My thoughts now turn to all the wonderful places I have yet to explore. I am filled with glee and anticipation as I try to stuff the last few bites of my sub and at the same time finish writing this post. Oh wait, I still have two Macadamia nut cookies to inhale. Ahh, but it would be a waste to inhale those.

CHICAGO!


I have been told by an extensive amount of people that my love for architecture needed to be translated in a trip to Chicago. They where right. This city is gorgeous! The people are for the most part friendly and always willing to strike a conversation. Moreover, the people are active; jogging, walking, communing at the parks, etc. Let’s not forget the public transit. Buses (in spite of their boring color scheme) tend to have the proper seating layout; that is a forward facing seating layout that enables you to look out the window and admire the city. In addition, the windows tend to be large and free of arduous advertising. The famous ‘L’ tends to be clean and free of major eye sores. The diverse amount of people using the ‘L’ is a testament to the fact that mass transit here is not viewed as a low class form of transport but rather as a integral part of a thriving community.

As for the cold? Well, I can’t comment on that one quite just yet. So far on my stay here the temperature has not dropped past 30ish degrees (including wind chill). A temperature that I have been able to easily mitigate with layering of clothes topped with a good Pea coat. Currently, the temperature is at 55 degrees (which means, I can wear a regular jacket and be more than fine).

I really have been enjoying my time in this city. Today, I plan to go check out the architecture of Mr. Wright (Who is one of my favorite Architects).
Follow me on twitter if you want to read my impromptu musings (jcgator1). Otherwise, thank you for following my Chicagian (is that even a word?) adventure and ill see you on my next post :).

Ps.

Don’t forget, pics will up. But I have to get home to work on them first lol.

Top of the morning to ya!


The morning has come and the view before me is that of open lands and farms in the midst of a cloudy morning. The announcer just announced out next stop; Waterloo Indiana. I wonder if that’s the train stop the Amish people who have been staring at me this whole morning are getting off on.
Chicago is not too far off now. At least I don’t think so. But in all honesty I’m enjoying my train ride so much, I would not mind it being a bit farther away.
My cold however has worked hard in making my trip as miserable as it could. It failed. But it still created some awkward moments. Especially when you’re sitting next to someone for 17 hours and your sick… Nevertheless, this morning has found me feeling better. My face actually feels normal again. I’m still stuffy, and sneeze but the body aches are gone…a major plus. I think a good shower would do me much good.

Evening is here; time to sleep?


Evening is here and I am elated with the views I have experienced throughout today. I have seen mountains, rivers, wildlife, trees…I mean, wow. Definitely an enjoyable ride. And guess what…the person siting next to me, is also a planner! How about that! And guess what else…he loves trains too (but not as much as I)! Not much complaints here (except that the food is way over priced…I guess they got to make money somehow). All in all, I have been having a blast, and for those of you who think I have been stuck in my seat this whole time? WRONG! I would have you know that I can get and move about the train whenever and wherever I like…so there :). It’s actually kind if sad but It wasn’t too long ago that I found out the train had an observation deck.

Train ride to Chicago, update


My adventure has so far has started on a mostly positive tune. For the exception (as fate would have it) of me having a slight head cold, the trip so far has been everything I have envisioned! My adventure began in Gainesville, where I rode the Megabus to get to Orlando. Here I started shooting for my coming first video blog (woot woot)! And also waited for a train that was 45 minutes delayed. Once the train arrives I boarded a train that seemed slightly outdated, and moved at speeds of 25 – 80 mph. Nevertheless the views were spectacular (as I hope you see in the coming video). The people where really friendly and the baggage handling was really hassle free. I have to say, for the exception of the delay, most of my ride has been hassle free. I had a seven hour layover in Washington DC where I got to have lunch with a good friend of mine whom God has blessed with wisdom and grace. In fact he also has a blog which (if you guys like my blog) you guys should check out. Ill post a link later since right now I am writing this on my phone.

I also got to ride the metro transit in Washington DC (but of course you know I was going to do so :). I was also able to take a pretty sweet photo of the metro (before I found out that they don’t allow tripods on the platform, so trust me, these shots to me are like Gold. Ill post them later).

I also got to check out our nations Capitol White House! Ok let me just say, pictures do it no justice…none. The scale of this thing is magnificent! Truly a work or architectural art!

Currently I am on the second Chicago bound train. In 17 more hours I shall reach my final destination! I’m sure the question on your mind is, do I regret taking the train yet?….nope. 🙂 see you guys on my next post 🙂

Ps.
Phone typing is hard! Lol so I apologize for any misspelled words.

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Getting ready for an Amtrak ride to Chicago!


Amtrak train in downtown Orlando, Florida.

As I sit to write this post, the clock on the bottom right hand corner of my computer screen informs me that it is indeed 2:47 AM.  In about four hours, I will be hoping on a bus headed to Orlando in order to connect with an Amtrak train that will first take me to Washington DC.  Here, I will wait for about seven hours until my connecting train arrives which shall then take me to Chicago.  Each train ride is about 17 hours long.  Some of you are already cringing at the idea.  Some of you think I’m crazy (and by the way, you would be right).  But the truth is I’m really excited about this trip.  Sure it’s a long train ride as opposed to the fact that I could have just taken a flight to Chicago (but where is the adventure in that?).  Sure, I’m probably going to look silly, walking around Washington DC as I wait for my next train carrying around a huge suitcase and an equally huge tripod with a backpack and a camera (did I mention that I’m crazy?).  But the fact is, I genuinely am looking forward to this; to the enjoyment of riding the train through uncharted territories (Hopefully mountains…but we’ll see).  I can’t wait to start shooting away with my camera and to start putting together the first of what promises to be many more video blogs.  Well, see.  But as of right now, my eyes are telling me that my craziness must end with some sleep…some.  So I log off by saying, Good morning!  I will see ya’ll around, and be looking for posts from the trip.  And if you don’t already, follow my tweets (Jcgator1).

Amtrak ride from Orlando to Chicago


Have you ever wondered what it must be like to ride an Amtrak train for about 3 days?   Maybe you have or maybe you haven’t but on April 10th I will experience this very same scenario.  I will be embarking on an Amtrak trip from Orlando, Florida to Chicago, Illinois.  As a train fanatic and critic of our current transportation infrastructure; I am ecstatic to be able to take this trip and am looking forward to writing, photographing and maybe even videoing some of my experiences.  So if you are interested as to how this adventure unfolds, keep an eye on my blog page for updates, photos and video links to my YouTube channel. (though video may take a little bit longer to post).