Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CHAPTERS 9, 10 and 11 of An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel


My husband has read my manuscript to this point and thinks I haven’t told you enough about myself.
Although one’s self is often one’s favorite subject, I thought it over and decided this is merely a matter of misery loving company. Dick has to listen to all my woes, and has lived through many of them with me, so he thinks it would be easier for him if half the western world shared his misery.
I don’t think so.
You can tell I’m an unfittie if you can imagine a family doctor, a gerontologist, a rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist, three ophthalmologists, a podiatrist, a massage therapist, and a denturist; and if you know the pharmacist recognizes the old guy in the referee shirt as “Kay’s husband coming to pick up her meds.”
You don’t need to know the gory details. You probably have enough gore of your own.


Q. What about sex?
A. Not on airplanes.


Don’t let a bad experience with one form of travel prevent you from trying it again.
Huh, you wonder, this from a woman forever forswearing 20- or even 9-hour plane flights?
That’s right. From me, because in this case it’s my husband who won’t try it again.
I’ve always loved train travel. It’s the only way to fly, as far as I’m concerned, so when we planned to be in Miami but also wanted to go to Tampa to visit friends, I suggested Amtrak. I showed Dick the schedule and the price, and he agreed. We arranged to have my friend Sheila meet us at the Tampa train station, and made our reservations.
We’d just (we thought) pop up to Tampa, visit Sheila and Walter for a weekend, then return to Miami in time for a cruise. Train travel would allow us to get up, walk around and stretch our legs, walk to the restrooms, walk to the dining car, then we’d reach Tampa all relaxed and happy.
We thought.
But we were wrong.
Little did we know Florida is the only state in the contiguous 48 wherein Amtrak doesn’t own its track. In Florida, freight trains have the right of way, and passenger trains are constantly being shunted onto sidings to make way for the more profitable freights.
We were hours and hours late, and Dick was fretting frantically because I had made a mistake when writing down the number for Sheila’s cellular phone. Sheila, meanwhile, knew what was happening all the time, because she was at the Tampa train terminal, with plenty of staff to provide updates.
Dick says we’ll never do it again, no matter how many miles of track are owned by passenger trains in whatever state or province we visit next.
For our return to Miami, we cancelled our southbound train reservations, rented a car, and drove down.
Did I say “sigh”?
Give me a train with a dining car and a sleeping car, with the rhythm of the rails lulling me to sleep, and I’m one seriously happy camper, but I guess I’ll have to travel without my spouse.

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