Sunday, December 18, 2011

Traveling Through the Night

When I was a child, I loved traveling by train (I might have mentioned this a time or two). Actually, any mode of transportation would have been fine. I just wanted to see everything I could see and trains seemed like a good way to do that. People don't travel by train as often as they once did and from what I hear from friends who do occasionally, it's an entirely different experience now. But, I still love the idea of traveling through the night, staying awake, as Roethke says, "To see the land I love."

"Night Journey"

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below the knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

~ Theodore Roethke

I used to collect vintage postcard folders, seeking them out in every antique store I visited. These photos are of just a few of them.


  1. hahaha...I only traveled by train, once. My girlfriend and I rode back from Texas. In our minds, it was supposed to be luxurious and exciting, but due to our youth, we picked a mail train. It was dirty and had no conveniences. It stopped at every single teeny, tiny town... We arrived in KC tired and dirty. Ha...I had forgotten all about that.. Love the vintage postcards!

  2. Our last train ride was two years ago, between Istanbul and Ankara. Wonderful!

    On December 26 my son, his girlfriend and my granddaughters will be arriving in Seattle by train.

    Doesn't happen often, but it's still a treat.

  3. Those are real special as you know. I want to take the train very much so b b b b but of course here it's screwed up as I want to get on and off at my choosing and that is not allowed.

  4. You know, I've never taken a train anywhere (unless you can count the BART). No?
    When I lived in California I always thought about taking it up to Seattle, but when it comes down to it I prefer having control to stop and come and go.
    Those vintage cards are so cool!

  5. There is a certain romantic appeal to train travel, no doubt. For one thing you get to see "the other side of the tracks", which is interesting and sometimes America at its finest. One of my long time ideas is to take a trip with my wife on the trans Canada train, from Quebec to British Colombia (you used to be able to take it from New Brunswick). Sounds wonderful to us!

  6. Hello Teresa:
    Your vintage cards are something totally new and different to us and we love them. They are so colourful and, we think, so much belonging to a period. What a wonderful collection.

    Equally new to us is this particular Roethke poem which is so very evocative and atmospheric.

  7. TN, I don't believe I ever traveled by mail train. That sounds like another adventure, though.
    Every little town between Texas and KC does sound a bit much....

    Linda, Between Istanbul and Ankara. Last time it was "The Big Island." Big sigh. You do realize I'm developing a bad case of travel envy around your life, don't you? ;)

    One fly, I would want to get off at my own choosing, too. You can do so on Amtrak, but it's always in the towns and that's definitely not where we would want that train to stop....

    Rubye Jack, The BART? Sorry, can't compute. What is BART? Having control is good, and usually essential for me, but you can really see some back country on a train and you don't have to worry about keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Thanks!

    Bill, I've thought that Trans-Canada ride would be a good one, too. You and Maureen do a test run and let me know? ;)

    Jane and Lance, Don't you two take a train back and forth between London and Budapest? That sounds like a nice ride....

  8. I enjoy the trains, but when they approached what a flght costs, the added time sometimes loses.I always try to live close to Amtrak.

  9. Teresa -- Like your postcard collection. I love to train it across the country but haven't done it in a few years. It probably has changed. nice post -- barbara

  10. I must travel on a train before I die and see all the places that your postcards advertise.
    Love Roethke's poem. It gives traveling sound and momentum.

  11. I love the idea of seeing everyone's back yard. I only remember one train ride, but it was under bad circumstances and I don't remember it fondly. It wasn't the train's fault, thought.

  12. Just recently discovered your blog. I love it. Tucked it into my Favorites so to share it with others, hopefully. Thanks for sharing yourself with we others out here. I have one of those fold-out postcards, a treasured part of my Dad. He rode to California when I was only five. Ever since I've yearned to travel across country. Too late now I'm sorry to report.

  13. Steve, Sometimes, time is of the essence, but when its not... Trains or automobiles for me.

    Barbara, Thanks for coming by. I should give it another try myself sometime. Just because....

    Hi farmlady! I bet Amtrak offers a package deal! :)

    The Duck! No, we mustn't blame the trains. Yeah, I have to say that seeing backyards might be intriguing.

    Sissy, I'm so glad you stopped by. I went and visited you, too, now. You have a fun sense of humor and interesting tidbits about life. I'll be back.

  14. I have good memories of the trains also and one bittersweet. Sad to see those days gone now. It was a gentler time, when we could ride on the Vista Domes and hobos also rode the rails.

  15. I love traveling by train and Gary and I seek out the tourist trains and steam trains to take where ever we find them. Something so relaxing and meditative about the click clack of the train track. Great cards you have there.

  16. I only traveled by train once. We actually had a field trip in 6th grade and went from Minneapolis to Chicago during the night so we could spend the day at a museum. We came back that night way after dark, too. My favorite part of the whole trip was the train! While the other kids slept I watched out the darkened window and listened and rocked to the wheels. It was glorious! Thanks for the reminder. :)

  17. It pains me to see them folding postcards. My family had a bunch from the mid 50's which my Mother through out. Used to love to look at them & should've asked for them some years ago.

  18. Montucky, when I was a child, I had a yearning to ride the rails myself. I've had a love affair with trains all my life.

    Linda, There are some great ones, especially in the western mountains. My son and I took one through the Black Hills once. They add something extra special to travel. I'm happy to hear that You and Gary still enjoy them, too.

    Rita, That sounds like one terrific memory. I can just see you there, riding through the night.... Thanks for telling me about that.

    Bob, I can imagine how you feel. Often parents don't know how we might feel about things later. A friend lost many Classics Illustrated comic books a similar way. Ouch!

  19. Love the Roethke poem. It has the rhythm of one of the best train songs ever, "City of New Orleans".

    I'm enthusiastic about trains. The only youtube video I've made is about steam trains. You can see it on my post called Railroading on the Great Divide. I don't usually leave links, but this post tells a lot about the way my daddy and grandpa raised me up to be a train-lover. ;)

    We collected those postcard folders, too. Back in the day, people didn't take pictures the way we do today, and the postcards were a good way to take home some memories of what we'd seen on our trips.

  20. Hi shoreacres, The song: Steve Goodman, I believe. A great song. I will check out your post. I've posted about them more than once and undoubtedly will again. I love trains, all their history and the stories they tell. They are ingrained in my consciousness from the earliest days of my childhood.

    The inner rhythm of the Roethke poem really spoke to me. Glad you like it, too.

  21. Something mythical about trains. I love your post cards. Post more sometime.

  22. Cletis, I realized after i posted, that I should have included photos of them opened, with all the individual cards accordioned. I will do that sometime in the future.

  23. Neat blog.

    Stop by my blog if you like for an e-book giveaway.



  24. You have a great collection of brochures and post cards. I like that they all have different names on them.
    I have never ridden on a train, but always thought it would be a fun way to travel. The Orient Express would be the way to go : )

  25. Thank you, elizabeth.

    LadyCat, Yes, the Orient Express does sound fun and interesting.

  26. Hej Teresa1 I like to go by train too. I "started " when I was a little girl, out to my granma in the country. It took about 4 hours and we had to change train in the middle and drive with a "bumletog" (old train hopping) the last piece of the way. I was about 6-7 when I went there alone. All my school holidays. I loved it. Later I went by train to Copenhagen each week-end.

    It's a long comment.! I've also gone by train in Norway. From Oslo to Trondheim. A beautiful panorama-tour. Norway is such a beautiful country. And from Århus to Vienna. "Night train to Vienna" (sounds like a movie!) I was in a sleeping-waggon. Don't go by a sleeping waggon ever! It's better to be in a coupé where you can move a little. And he locked the doors to the waggon. Terrible!
    I was seasick when I arrived in Vienna! But else - I like to go by train!! `)

  27. Hi Grethe (Thyra), it sounds like you've had some great train rides, in some interesting places...going by train at a young age to see your granma... Yes, I need to be looking out to alleviate that motion sickness, too.

    It's so good to hear from you.

  28. Iron lace. I like that. Boy or boy, I haven't taken a train since sometime in the 50's. My husband and I loved Chicago and would take the train from Minneapolis to Chicago. A fun trip that was. It would be a sentimental journey to take a train again, now. Good memory.

  29. Manzi, "Gonna take a sentimental journey, gonna set my heart at ease..." I like that iron lace phrase, too.

  30. Lovely pots Teresa. I am another who loves travelling by train, and travelling by night seems extra special. I love looking out into the world as it sleeps, seeing the trees against the night sky and having glimpses of the lives of others in brightly lit windows. Just beautiful.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  31. Marilyn, It is a unique way to view life. I wish for you a wonderful Christmas, as well. Thanks so much.

  32. My umbilical cord used to pull me back from California to Colorado periodically. Training the distance was my favorite mode of travel because, in those days (anyways), there were no highway signs or signs of civilization for hundreds of miles. Watching Nature watch us speed through Her was a narcotic experience. And, I was able to catch a little more sleep than I would have behind the wheel!

  33. "Watching Nature watch us speed through her..." is a telling line of where we've been and where we are.
    I'm glad you weighed in with these thoughts. Thank you.