Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
We made it back to Washington intact; our train, contrary to the fears of some of our fellow-passengers, hit no cows and did not derail. We took a train coach to Albany; then overnight to Chicago in a roomette that included our own toilet, sink, and crazy fold-down beds; then three days from Chicago to Seattle in another smaller sleeper roomette, passing up along the Canadian border through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho (we slept through all of Idaho), and finally Washington. I read three books (Secret Life of Bees, The Dante Club, and Got Shorty) and we watched a half-dozen episodes of Firefly, which Ian gave me for my birthday. We snacked on the official Amtrak snack, a mix of strawberry-flavored sugary pretzel sticks, sliced almonds, and dried papayas, ate our meals gratis in the dining car, and met interesting new people. We watched lots of flat, grassy land go by and amused ourselves by commenting on the towns we passed through. We became car graveyard conniseurs, critiquing the less-organized Western car graveyards as compared to the wooded, grid-like compilations of rusted-out hulks in Ohio and Indiana. We ate dinner while watching the sunset on the Mississippi river, then the next night ate dinner while passing through heavily clouded Rocky mountain vistas. We disembarked to stretch our legs at various stops – St. Paul, Whitefish, various others – and marveled at the change in climate as we crossed the country. We felt unconfortable about the sleeping car attendant’s jobs; we like doing things for ourselves, and she kept offering to do things for us, like a servant. At the end we tipped her all our remaining cash.
I very much enjoyed the train ride, and I recommend it to anybody who has the opportunity. For $1,000 we crossed the country in four days, enjoyed decent food for free (well we did pay for it), slept comfortably, saw the nation up-close and personal. I loved the opportunity to just gaze out the window for hours on end, thinking about things or just looking at the grassy hills passing by. It was a comfortable ride, quiet and requiring no work whatsoever. The best part, though, was the enforced slowness of the whole thing. We couldn’t rush, and there was no point in stressing about getting there faster: when the train goes, it goes. You can’t force it to move along, and so you might as well relax and enjoy yourself. It was a decently-priced four-day vacation that felt a lot like a cruise on land.
On our first day, going from Boston to Albany, Rose from Charles River Labs called me. She offered me the position I interviewed for with a starting salary of $40,000 a year, and without even seeing the other details, I accepted the job. So that’s settled: Later in June I’ll start with Charles River Labs in Worcester essentially writing lab reports. I’m very jazzed about the whole thing, and I think it’s way better than the Yantra job I got offered even if it’s a little lower-paying. I feel very blessed that God is giving me this opportunity to use the skills He’s given me, and I only hope I can perform as well as they expect.
Random factoid: The readership for my blog dropped from about 150 people per week (pretty small already) to 50 people per week. Any particular reason?