Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Traveling (without moving)

I know all we're doing / is traveling / without moving ( heh yeah )

They say it's the journey, not the destination. For some reason the transit portions of any trip hold a great deal of interest for me. I love to fly. I have many fond memories of railways. Buses invariably give me the impression that all hope is lost of arriving at the intended destination.

On the return leg of our honeymoon, we were conveyed from the ferry to the airport on St Thomas by a taxi driver called Freddie. He gave us strange berries to eat, soothed us with soft rock gospel music that reminded me of Hillsongs, and gave us marital advice. On hearing the circuitous flight plan we had ahead of us (via Newark) he strongly recommended that I leave all future ticket purchases to my talented wife. However, since our Texas trip was to visit my relatives, at some point I was left in charge of selecting appropriate flight times. Of course, I blew it.

One thing I did learn from our honeymoon travels is that U.S. Airways have their act together right now. Their local hub is Charlotte, NC and it usually works out quite well to fly through there. Even 1-stop is a tad unnecessary given the proximity of RIC and DFW, but it was much cheaper. Once I had agreed the dates with my sister, I had in mind that we should aim to arrive at a decent time of day so that we could maximize tourist activities. It only occurred to me the night before our departure that this entailed leaving the house at some unearthly hour of the morning. Thus we arrived in Fort Worth at nine in the morning feeling like it was already mid-afternoon. This was brought home to us as we were strolling around downtown and considered refreshing ourselves with a margarita, then realizing that it was before the drinking hour. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur and involved us familiarizing ourselves with Wii.

The trip back was even more of an adventure. Owing to moderate consumption of beer on the last night, it slipped our minds to get the full details of how to reach DFW by train. We awoke on a Monday morning feeling certain that railway travel in Texas would be a walk in the park, but immediately came unstuck when attempting to find the train station. Let me clarify: we were not lost. we knew exactly which building the train station was in (we had a helpfully illustrated map). We stood now in front of the Texas & Pacific Railway building, but where the hell was the station? The T&P building was in the process of becoming condominiums, and it transpired that to reach the platforms one had walk around the side by the dumpsters and enter at the rear.

A train was awaiting us, but the illuminated sign indicated that the next depature was in almost two hours. This would not do. We would miss our flight. Luckily after finding some rail company personnel we ascertained that this train would be leaving in just a few minutes. And yes, we should purchase a ticket, although no further details regarding what kind of fare to buy or how the infernal ticket machine worked were not offered. After wrestling with the touch screen menus for sometime, trying to answer questions like 'Would you like to be fleeced for every penny you possess?', and enlisting the aid of a exceedingly kind, helpful but unmistakably senile lady I gave up. Shortly after reboarding the train it pulled away from the station with much hornblowing, bell ringing and general fanfare. We traversed several miles of the nothingness that exists between Fort Worth and Dallas at a good speed, stopping occasionally a nondescript commuter station that appeared to be miles from civilization. As the train slowed on the approach to our stop one of the friendly but not very informative staff came down the carriage. Did we have a ticket? Er, no. I began to explain my travails with the ticket machine, making it clear that I was more than happy to pay for our tickets at any outlet which provided the simple courtesy of giving change. We were asked which station we were traveling to, and I replied that we were for Centreport, the next stop. From the ticket collector's response I gathered that the standard penalty for dodging the fare was to be ejected at the next stop, but in this case it made no difference. The man strode away shaking his head.

Momentarily we arrive at Centreport, which despite its important sounding title is the epicenter of absolutely nowhere. We understood that the next step in our journey involved a bus ride, and there being only one bus in the parking lot we boarded and hoped that no-one asked to see our tickets! I wasn't completely sure if it was the right bus, but the alternative was to allow both the bus and train to depart, leaving us stranded in this wilderness. It transpired that this bus ride was free, and would take us to the airport remote parking lot. By this point it was becoming almost second nature to arrive at some distant outpost, disembark and search for the next vessel to transport us one layer closer to the object of our travels. In this case another bus carried us to our terminal, driven by the smallest asian women who, once shed had adjusted the seat to the further forward and highest position, turned out to be an adequately competent chauffeur.

1 comment:

  1. Well if you managed to write that much just on the travelling, no wonder you're struggling to condense the trip into one blog entry!

    I feel really bad now about the train...