I’ve still got a thing for trains

It’s cool enough to live by the ocean, but the second coolest thing around here are the trains.Trains loom large in North County and it seems you either love them or hate them. Even if you hate them, they still add a bit of ambiance to the area, don’t you think? It’s very possible I spent my youth listening to far too many Kingston Trio and Arlo Guthrie songs. Trains aren’t nearly as sexy as they were in the day of the Orient Express, but they still hint of distant, possibly exotic places.

The very best thing is to hear the faint wail of a train from a distance, especially late, late at night. It is the finest of sad, yet soothing siren songs. It makes me sorry that I missed living in the heyday of travel by rail.

It’s not nearly as swell to have a train horn blast past your bedroom window at 3 a.m. setting off your car alarm. But even when it’s 10 yards away, I will never forget my first night at a friend’s home in Oceanside, when the train roared by at 2 a.m. I nearly came out of my skin, as my sleep-addled brain was sure it had jumped the rails and was coming right through the house.

When I’m not sound asleep right by the tracks, I love the sound of the train going by. It sounds like adventure. The sound of airplanes going over has a similar effect, but that no doubt comes from growing up on Air Force bases. I think I might be one of those people who could learn to sleep right through it if I lived near the tracks. But that’s just a theory, so no…I don’t want to buy your house near the runway or the tracks just now, thanks.

I had jury duty downtown a year or two back and the very best part was riding the Coaster every day. I so loved being able to lean back and read a book instead of stressing on the freeway. I was born to be a rapid transit girl. For months after that, I found myself wishing I had another good reason to just leave all my daily hassles behind and hop aboard. Do you suppose I was a hobo in a former life?

All my train experiences have been good ones. Just lucky I guess. When I was imprisoned in L.A., I used to take the train down fairly often to visit my folks. The hardest part was getting from the San Fernando Valley to Union Station. From there it was sweet sailing. My fondest memory is of bringing my babies on board…It was such a snug, safe feeling to travel with them that way.

I loved the trains in Europe and on the East Coast. I remember sitting on the floor of the crowded car from Connecticut to New York with boxes of live lobsters around me. I especially remember being amazed that people smoked incessantly inside closed rail compartments in France. I had clearly been in California for too long.

But every train memory is an interesting one. I think the Napa wine trip may be next. Sounds like the perfect combination, no? All aboard!

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