I boarded Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited today (November 2014). Apparently, my driver’s license sits below the lid of my scanner – at home. Across the room, you’ll find my passport locked in a 1.5m tall safe.

I also did not have a ticket – paper or digital.

I brought my blankets! These are newer versions of the green fleece blankets that I have carried for nearly 20 years. I’ll bet those blankets travelled 1,000,000 miles during those years.

You’d think I’d be standing trackside by now. No ticky, no travel. Well, no picture to prove I’m that individual on the conductor’s list either.

The conductor recognized the shoulder patch sticker on my laptop. He instantly recognized the US Army unit to which it is associated. He talked of ‘Nam and I talked of Iraq. Then I got amazing lessons on the process of being a train conductor. Speeds, regs, and such. Probably all google-able. New to me though.

Let me suggest that you actually carry an ID while travelling. It makes life easier. I’ll spend the next 8 days finding out what a mess I’ve made. There is a badge and a picture ID in my bag. I normally only wear the badge at funerals. Although there were two instances in NYC last year when I clipped it to my suit. The first time was when a waiter had a cardiac crisis at a restaurant. A quick response from me earned us free drinks and dessert. Later that month, I watched a bicyclist get hit by a car. Oops.

There was a lot I didn’t know about my travels. With my tiny private room, the meals are included with the cost of my ticket. I did not know that the space in my room is so tight that I had to hand off my suit case to Amtrak staff. She was terrifically sweet. I also didn’t know that the private room would be so isolating. Part of a train experience is the chit-chat. Granted, I spent the better part of an hour talking about floating bridges in Viet Nam, train signalling, and listening to radio chatter on CSX frequencies visiting with my conductor.

It is getting rather close to a rural bedtime. I’ll explore reconfiguring this berth to a rack.