Sunday, February 6, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, there are no planes in this post, and it is primarily about trains.

This weekend I took the Amtrak Crescent line from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my parents for my father’s 60th birthday.  I thought it would be a good idea to take the train versus driving or flying.  I thought that it would be a good way to catch up on some e-mails, maybe blog some, relax, see the countryside.  I had some romantic idea in my head that it would be like in the old black and white movies.  I wore a shirt with French cuffs, and a sport coat.

Let me tell you something: Disappointment is not just a town in Kentucky.

On the way to Atlanta, I took a sleeper car.  I highly recommend this approach if you do choose the train.

DSC_7359 DSC_7360

As you can see, a sleeper car is a two-seat private room with a bunk above for sleeping.  In some of these rooms there were as many as three people (two adults and a child in one) although I am sure that was a very tight fit.  Believe it or not, these little rooms have their own toilets tucked under the small table (in the picture above left, it is under my red bag.)

On the way back, I sat in steerage.  “Coach” is the official name, but it is miserable in many ways.


Although the seats are more comfortable than in a commercial airplane, that is akin to saying that Bayview Correctional Facility is more hospitable than Rikers Island.


I felt quite out of place due to the fact that I was the only person over the age of 12 without a tattoo.  I learned some new curse words, and met some very interesting people.  The guy in the seat next to me was pretty inebriated drinking Hennessy with a Mountain Dew chaser.


The two guys behind me were talking about deer hunting (one of them brought his bow.  Yes, really) comparing stories of the biggest buck they had ever killed, times they were almost shot by other hunters, times they almost got arrested for poaching.  Two seats ahead of me someone were watching an action movie that was punctuated by frequent F-bombs.  Another young man is listening to hip hop (for my older readers, that is just another word for Rap Music) on his iphone.

Once we passed the state line and crossed into Alabama, the train seemed to erupt in celebration.  It was Sunday, and it is illegal to sell alcohol in Georgia on Sunday, so people made a bee-line for the bar to order beer.

probably the biggest issue with the trip is one of duration: what would be a 80 minute flight or a six-hour car ride takes 10 hours by train.  On a good day, that is.  We had to stop multiple times for freight trains to pass.  It took 12 hours from Hattiesburg to Atlanta.


  1. Thanks for the very effective sales presentation on why to NEVER take the train!

  2. ugh...NOT my cup of tea...even with a microscopic hidden personal toilet...