Friday, August 15, 2008


Levi and the Train

The ground dropped away as the train rolled onto the trestle. Levi leaned toward the glass of the observation car and looked down. Three hundred feet below, the river looked green and placid. The brim of his Amish hat bumped against the window glass as his baby daughter shifted in his arms. This land was so vast and empty, nothing like his lush farmland in the upper midwest.

As the train soared above the Texas river he glanced around the observation car at his fellow passengers.

The shutter clicked on the Nikon AE6, capturing the placid face of the young Amish man as he starred at the broad Texas plain. Hiro flicked the film advance lever as he lowered the camera. He had taken more than 30 rolls of 35mm film. With each click of the shutter, another expression, another face, another story. He wondered what they were all thinking. Behind him he heard a cell phone ring.

Courtney looked at the caller-ID for a moment and then flipped open her phone and held it to her ear.

"So, you're going to talk to me again?"

It was evident that the person on the other end of the phone was her girlfriend in Santa Fe. Courtney was on her way to see her, but there had been a misunderstanding the previous day. The girlfriend had been told that Courtney was really coming to see her live-in boyfriend. Everyone within the Stream-liner got to hear the conversation, whether they wanted to or not.

"That's crazy, why would I do that? You know me better than that!"

The great gorge outside the windows went unnoticed. She was focused on the drama in her mind and nothing else really mattered.

Robert gently squeezed Lisa's hand and smiled at her. She grinned back at him as they listened to Courtney's one-sided conversation. They had met in High School 35 years ago. This was their journey back, across a lifetime of memories. Memories that spanned wars, jobs, marriages, children and loss. They both knew that the drama that surrounded Courtney would be just a footnote in her life, and not the chapter that she now thought it would be.

As the train rolled back onto the Texas prairie, Lisa leaned across the isle and asked Levi, "What your daughter's name?"

"Rebecca", was his reply as he gently bounced her on his knee.

"She is adorable."


This is a condensed slice of life from my trip earlier this year from Philadelphia to Phoenix by rail. All of these characters were present on the train as was the actual scene. The blog graphic is Levi standing next to the train in Ft Worth, Texas. You can read more about this trip in the original blog posted about it, Travels With Casper.