Monday, December 29, 2003

"Well, we're back."

When you've only been away for six days, paraphrasing Sam Gamgee doesn't have the same effect as it does in the book.

Liz and I were in Johnstown, PA for most of last week, visiting my mother and other family and friends. I got to meet some new additions to my extended family and catch up with old friends I hadn't seen in ten years or more. I could have used one more day at home but we did almost everything that we'd planned on, and ate enough for three vacations, so I suppose six days was enough.

We took the train from New York to Johnstown and decided that's the only way to travel. It took about eight hours each way but driving would have taken almost that long and flying about the same (once you factor in the travel time to and from the airport, the wait at the airport, and the drive from Pittsburgh to Johnstown). Once you're on the train, there's nothing to worry about, except falling asleep and missing your stop, which has never happened to us. You can use your computer, cell phone, or PDA as much as you want, you can eat and drink anytime, and you are always free to move about the train. It's the most stress-free long-distance travel experience we've had in years. And it's the cheapest way to get there from here! I just hope that the rumors of Amtrak closing the Harrisburg to Pittsburgh rail link are just rumors, because after taking the train, I'd hate to go back to driving. And then travelers would miss the famous Horseshoe Curve.

One of the highlights of the trip was something I hadn't planned on: cleaning my bedroom. I have this old clothes bureau that's been in my room since I was about seven years old. As soon as I got it, I started putting all sorts of junk into it, everything from schoolwork and newspapers to crafts projects to small toys to hard candy. The past few times I've been home, my mother has asked me to look through all the stuff in my room and see if I could throw anything away. I spent most of Friday afternoon sorting through all the bureau drawers and tossed two large bags' worth of junk: the aforementioned old hard candy and school newspapers, broken toys, many duplicate concert programs, and all sorts of detritus that a boy tends to collect over fifteen years. I kept all the work I did as a student, even though I doubt I'll ever need any of it again. I just thought that I should have evidence of my public school education, at least until I clean out the bureau again.

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