"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, August 3, 2012

All aboard to stress freedom, part 1

Tired of stress and traffic? The cure is a weekend trip aboard Amtrak's Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth with friends. It begins early, parking in the Cox convention center across the street from the depot, and walking across the street and up on the platform to the waiting silver cars and locomotive before  the train leaves the old Santa Fe station downtown at 8:25 a.m.
Jill, Susan and I waiting to board
Any trip to Fort Worth is personal for me, having gone through first grade there, but this was with Roy
and Jill Kelsey. Roy's a train buff, like me, and I found out he'd never ridden a train before, and we were celebrating Jill's retirement from UCO.
love going places where I don't have to rent a car, or drive... there's less to worry about, less stress, and more more time to enjoy the sights. Fort Worth is one of those places. Plus, there's no hassling TSA, body scans and having to worry about shuttles from remote airports. It's also cheap--$32 round trip. No baggage fees. You put your baggage in a storage area as you get on, and then climb stairs up  to the seats. Your train deposits you right downtown at what is also the super modern and clean central bus station, two easy walking blocks from a hotel.
The Kelseys
It may not be the most scenic railroad trip in America, but you will see things on this 418-mile trip you never see from a car--including the Washita River "canyon" through the Arbuckles, plus a lot of rural countryside. And you've got a lot of time to look out the windows, to chat, to think, to enjoy friends. On Fridays and Sundays the train is packed, picking up and letting people off at regular stops at Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley, Ardmore and Gainesville.
The conductor.
The train staff are courteous and fun, joking and easy-going. You can get up and move around from car to car, go to the cafe car which is more of a snack bar for beverages and snacks and souvenirs, or bring you own. The bathrooms are clean and lots bigger than on aircraft. There's lots of foot room, wider aisles, and no seat belts. The seats are well upholstered, comfortable, and have foot and leg rests. You can view the countryside, talk with friends, think, read, or doze, because the ride is really smooth.
The Washita River canyon in the Arbuckles


Susan and Jill 
You get between 12:30 and 1:30, get your baggage, and walk up a small hill to the historic Texas Hotel, remodeled by Hilton, the same folks who now run the Skirvin in OKC. Check in is easy, and lunch is a three-block walk away up red brick Main Street to the Corner Bakery.
Your correspondent travels light

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