Wandering Through North Dakota

Walking in North Dakota

After reading Greyhound by Steffan Piper, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my most recent cross-country trip.  And by recent, I mean a trip I made in August 2008.

I’d always wanted to ride a train.  There is something so fantastic about trains, assuming of course you don’t live right by a railroad where a train roars through at 3:00 in the morning like I did for the past three years.  Still, to me, they seem like magnificent, old relics of the past.  Or even better, they are full of magic and take people to places like Hogwarts!  But, who has time to take a train anymore?  With business meetings to attend or families to help take care of, taking a 23 hour train ride to a destination is preposterous especially when planes cut the travel time down by 21 hours.  So, when my brother invited me to visit him in Cavalier, North Dakota, I decided I’d make an experience out of it and take a train cross-country.

The train was a mammoth!  I’d only ever seen the piddly Amtrak that came through town– from Chicago to Detroit.  But, the one I rode from Chicago to Fargo was a double-decker and incredibly spacious!  I’d packed all sorts of things to keep me entertained, but not once during the 23 hours trip did I get bored.  Looking out the window as we passed through each state was entertainment enough.  It was so beautiful.  I only wish I would have had the courage to find the lounge car with the big picture windows. What a thrill it would have been to see the land like this.

I felt pretty accomplished knowing I could check North Dakota off my list of States to Visit Before I Die (unofficial name).  The land was so flat and sparse which made the North Dakota sky seem extra big compared to Michigan’s sky.  The only things that occupied the sides of the road were sprawling fields of sunflowers, abandoned farmhouses, power lines, and…well, actually, that’s it.  There was much more in Fargo, but I was hours north of any city that would be considered “big”; Pembina county only had a population of 1,500.  There wasn’t a whole lot to see or do, but I’d go back in a heart beat.  It was nice to be away from my hectic college town.

My brother has since relocated to Colorado; he moves around a lot because he’s in the Air Force.  He much prefers Colorado over North Dakota since there is much more to do.  I’ll actually be visiting him at the end of March.  Sadly, I’ll be stuffed onto a plane instead of a train.  I dislike planes.  They fill me with such fear!

Have you ever ridden on a train?  What did you think of it?  Have you ever mad a cross-country trip before?

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4 thoughts on “Wandering Through North Dakota

  1. Most of my cross-country trips have been via car or plane, unfortunately, which totally do not compare to a train ride. It also probably doesn’t help that all of the trains that run near me aren’t passenger trains.

    I did ride a train when I was visting in England though, and really enjoyed it. There’s something magical about trains. You get speed and the beauty of a car ride without being so cooped up.

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  2. Sadly, I have never been on a train or made a cross country trip. But I fully intend to do both before I die.

    And you’re right, there is something about trains. It doesn’t seem like many people use them anymore because planes are so much faster, which is part of the reason I want to ride one.

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  3. great post. this brings back some memories…of the year i spent living right next to the tracks for the high-speed line in philly (i didn’t realize how good i became at sleeping through the noise until i had friends visit and, well, NOT sleep) and of this train trip i did with my family from philly to denver. at the time it seemed like the worst trip ever, in part because we didn’t have a sleeper from philly to chicago but you’re right; there is something nice about the idea of taking a break from life, taking your time to get somewhere rather than always seeking the fastest possible route.

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