bookmark_borderPost-331: On the Road Again

I’ll be traveling through the eastern USA for most of the two weeks starting Monday January 4th. The holiday season being over means it’s just in in time to get much cheaper rates on transportation and lodging.

First stop, New York City and vicinity. Then south to North Carolina to visit my uncle and aunt, then down through Georgia and maybe into Florida, then back to Virginia, possibly by way of Atlanta where I also have “people” I may try to track down. I haven’t sorted out all the details yet.

Amtrak’s Palmetto Line will take me from Washington to North Carolina. (This line’s northern terminus: New York City Penn Station. Southern terminus: Savannah, Georgia.) Another line, apparently called the Silver Service line, partly overlaps Palmetto and continues down to Miami, Florida by way of Jacksonville and Orlando. Map of both, red markers indicating stops:


To be honest, I wish the USA had more train service. There seems to be only one southbound train a day on Palmetto, for instance.

There is an idea out there that air travel has already peaked as the dominant form of long-range travel, and that we are in the early ascending stages of Maglev train technology (magnet based trains). A professor I had, Dr. T.L., made the case for this to us around 2008. Eight years later and so far no sign that I’m aware of. I rode one of the world’s only functional Maglev trains in Shanghai, China. It went only from the airport to a suburban subway station where you had to transfer to the regular system. A total prestige project.

Many consider train travel to be a metaphor for the American spirit, somehow, which is why it’s so prominent in American folk music. (Below are four Youtubes of songs of the sort I mean. As they may go down in the future, here are the artists and song title: Willie Nelson, “City of New Orleans;” Hank Snow, “Wreck of the Old ’97;” Johnny Cash, “Wabash Cannonball;” Boxcar Willie, “Orange Blossom Special.”)
This last song (Orange Blossom Special) is in honor of a train called the Orange Blossom Special, a predecessor to the very one I’ll be on. The Orange Blossom Special ran from New York to Florida. It was a luxury train line that operated from the 1920s to 1950s, now long forgotten but in its time the primo way to travel. Long-distance car travel was difficult and unpleasant until the 1950s. The song is originally from the 1930s and incorporates harmonica to imitate the sound of a steam engine.