Union Station, Denver, CO

I need to stop paying attention to airline deal emails. They are deceptive in that I begin to imagine that I have unlimited time and funds to travel the world. Even if the financial portion does not affect my bank account the way it might when I was 20 and while I love a great deal, the time away tends to be harder to commit to. Tied into other financial goals I have created for myself including eventual home ownership, these ‘quick getaway’ emails are dangerous for me.

Since I do beleive in manifesting dreams, I will say that if anyone out there knows of someone willing to pay me to live and travel, send them a link to the blog. I’ll happily field offers.

Until that comes to fruition, however, I am proud to have a consistent job that does allow me some freedoms to pursue my hobbies and dreams, even if I am underwriting them.

One of the flight deals that I found was from Southwest’s hub cities, Houston’s Hobby Airport to Denver’s International Airport. These are dedicated routes that generally have flights more frequently which allow travelers to connect to other locations with a transfer or even short layover. Admittedly, I love a nonstop flight to anywhere I travel, as the process of traveling usually carries some level of anxiety for me. I’m not afraid of airplanes or flying directly, but I tend to find myself in what I call “tracker mode”.

 

I plan trips and build expectation early, to which I prefer to stick to a general schedule. While I don’t time myself getting through airport security or anything, I move with an internal clock that counts down certain arrivals. Obstacles like gate changes, runway delays, or TSA questioning do very little to aid in my sense of comfort about the internal clock I work from. I like to be able to see the progress that I make in my travel itinerary in real time, or at least some way to try and predict the next portions and adjust accordingly. Ultimately, I want to get to the destination to begin to enjoy the vacationing or work, depending on the purpose of my visit and I place trust in that “tracker mode” as it has served me well in the past.

I realize that there are times that my high expectations in travel aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. While I don’t think that I over program myself while out and about, my independence is notable as I have specific visions in mind (specifically as it applies to the blog). I find that I hold high standards as to what I want to share and unless that becomes physically impossible, I make every effort to obtain the shot. In ways, that drive has paid off, but there have been times in which I have also physically paid a price. I vividly remember falling on my side, trying to hustle around a slippery and steep graffiti park in Austin before I lost daylight and clear weather. Nothing required stitches, but I had bruises to my pride as well as my hip from the toss.

 

I have once pined for an alternative to the way that I have scheduled my travel, to move toward at least one trip where I travel by rail. It really started after reading about an experience traveler Derek Low had in 2011 after traveling across the US via rail for $186 Dollars. He posted his insights on his blog and detailed his trip from San Francisco to New York. He now consults with potential travelers and schedules itineraries and booking for a small fee.

 

Denver’s Union Station is a beautiful reminder of a glamorous era of travel by Rail. The Mile High City boasts of decorative Architecture styles which have since been abandoned after their arrival a little over a century ago. Elongated windows brighten the terminal of the rail and bus hub for a popular venue now also surrounded by retailers selling anything from snacks and magazines to stiff drinks and artisan soaps. There is something authentic about the nature of what it provides that even now I have a hard time finding how to describe. But, it is something appealing and rich in history that fuel my appreciation for it.

 

There is also something appealing to me in the simplicity of handing the details of travel over to a trusted source. In a generation where we all feel a desire to stay connected, and at times busy (which is different than being productive), being denied that level of control is equally appealing as it is terrifying. Most modes of the modern travel industry have access to the internet through the smartphones that we readily carry. I mentally move back and fourth as to whether or not if on a train ride I would miss out on the experience of appreciating the journey because I would wrap myself in a solid podcast or playlist. These modern conveniences have their rightful place, but if I am open to stepping outside of my comfort zone I have a feeling I might find a better story.

 

The more that I looked into Low’s article, the more I also found pieces from other writer’s who detailed the level of comfort one finds at Low’s ticket price point. Bluntly, very little comfort is bought for $186 on a cross country Amtrack ticket. Your seat becomes your very own yet also very public lodging, lounging and lapping destination for nearly 4 days. To upgrade your accommodations to a sleeper cabin increases the price of the ticket nearly tenfold. And, while I love optimism, I am a realist in recognizing that planning a trip through perfect weather, with respectful co-travelers, and zero obstacles is highly unlikely, at best.

 

The track this week is The Impressions singing their classic “People Get Ready”. While the song was written with a much deeper spiritual connotation, if just looking at the face value, the piece talks about a train heading to The River Jordan that the faithful and the grateful are welcome to. Other than a spirit of gratitude and a belief that the train is on it’s way, passengers don’t need to worry about bringing anything as all of one’s needs are accounted for.

 

As I began to write this week, I was so caught up in my own levels of control and expectation, especially in how much I plan and execute. And as I think about how I should wrap up this week, I am working on taking more of the track’s advice: More gratitude and less baggage. I am smart enough to know that a trip from San Francisco to New York via rail is not my first choice for my first travel by train, but maybe I will be able to let go and find something equally as personally fulfilling that will not require my regular level of planning. Maybe that is a trip West from Houston. Maybe it’s a trip East. What I can say with certainty is that you’ll be the first to know as you continue to follow along in the journey by reading each week.

 

 

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