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It began easily enough — call Amtrak, lay out an itinerary based on three dates and hit the rails. Date #1 – arrive in DC in time for the Big New Year’s Bash at Bob Simon’s. Date #2 – go to NY with Victoria & Jenet for the premier of Jenet’s play. Date #3 – return me to DC on the 30th day of travel (when our¬†USARail pass expires).

Nothing worth doing is ever easy to do.

My traveling companion (was not 9 years old), originally began his journey out of the Yukon and was then joining in me in Solana Beach, San Diego via Sedona (don’t ask). His itinerary had been issued perfectly from Sedona. As we speak to the Amtrak ticket agent at the desk in Solana Beach, it is immediately clear that mine has been befuddled. In fact, it is nearly completely in reverse of my companion’s and will in no way work.

As a Capricorn female, oldest child, etc, I am set on having this rectified. Everything must be organized just so. I can not, will not, begin a thirty¬†day train trip without a perfectly orchestrated plan in effect. I am already one “baby step” over my comfort level line by even taking this trip. I have notified very few people – not a single family member and I just walked away from my job – “en vacance” I said, never intending to return.

The line behind us is long. The train is due shortly. Ticket agent, Canadian and I compromise. We, those boarding a train headed now for the east, will arrange the rest of my itinerary once we arrive in Virginia in about three days. Agent prints out what I need to get that far. We hoist back-packers packs and the allowed carry-ons and our box of Pizza Port pizza and head to the platform.

Another decision is reached. We will eat pizza in every city and judge them against each other. Our first major destination is Chicago. Sounds like a good game to play along the rails. We will even tell folks that is what our trip is about.

It’s a good an answer as any as to what this trip is about

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1st leg of the journey

The first leg of the journey didn’t count to me as it was the same miles of track between my newest place of living and where I grew up, these miles I had traveled often over the previous few years. No excitement for me there. What that leg of the journey was that was important was for us to get to know each other better.

My companion and I knew each other as well as any two kindred souls who had “miraculously” found each other in the jumble that is modern life and Love. Ours had begun with words and just recently morphed into the actuality of contact, of nearness, of touch. He was a creature I had only dreampt of encountering. I was slightly worn around the edges, feeling like ol’ Molly Grue, angry that I was what I was when he had come to me. His soul was what I had first glimpsed it to be and I marveled at the reality of thirty days in his presence.

That quick stretch of California rails from Solana Beach to Fullerton we quieted my old thought patterns about the muddled itinerary, we hashed out my unprecedented behaviour in just taking flight, we ate the pizza and contemplated required pizza stops.

We did not get comfortable in our manner of seating, of arranging our belongings into, onto and around the two chair space we would live in for a month. We didn’t because it was too short a trip to waste energy on those important logistics. It wasn’t even the sort of seating on the long range trains.

We were anxious to be truly on our way, to be boarded onto a cross-country line, not just an inter-state route.