Riding the Train

I have long enjoyed riding the train. There is something soothing about the sound of the wheels on the track. The stops, people getting on and off. What is their purpose for traveling? Why did they choose the train?

My first experience with Caltrain was when I was fairly young, probably 8 or 9. I had a step brother who lived in San Francisco, and I would visit occasionally on the weekend, so my mother would drop me off at the Sunnyvale station, and I would ride the train to San Francisco.

(Yes, this may seem odd today, but I assure you that it wasn’t weird, and didn’t seem dangerous at all in the early 1970’s.)

Exciting.

My next major experience was when I started traveling internationally. If you go to Japan, you pretty much live and die by the train schedule and map. You very quickly learn to navigate, and figure out the timing to get to your destination.

Ah, Shinjuku station, the busiest train station in the world, at rush hour. It is a sea of people you find yourself swimming with.

Europe also has outstanding train service, giving you options to get from city to city in comfort, at a fair price.

The reason for this reminiscence? Wednesday, I took a sojourn to a tradeshow in San Francisco. Naturally, I took the train. Got on early, so I got a good seat, and watched the whole trip. You see plenty of things if you are observant.

Lots of graffiti. Every vertical surface along the track is coated in colorful graffiti of various artistic quality.

Sad: Homeless encampments. Never saw this before, but an inevitable sign of the times.

Fun: Kids heading to school. From south San Jose, there were a few kids headed to Bellarmine, and on the way home, plenty from a girls Catholic school in Menlo Park.

Nasty: There always seems to be a person with bad body odor.

The pace of travel is sedate, and you can’t control the speed, so you succumb to the mode of transport, and enjoy. I do like train travel.

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