by Danielle Thomas
Glassboro, New Jersey
I took my first ride on an Amtrak train when I was 18; my first trip of any distance without an escort. I was absolutely mesmerized by the rhythm of the railway, the coming and going of passengers and the noticeable change in dialect as I made my way from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. However, it would seem that you never hear much about the Carolinian.
It's true that there aren't marvelous canyons or fields of sunflowers to view from the comfort of your seat on the train. I think the greatest aspect of its character is its passengers. Each time that I ride the passengers always have interesting stories to tell, especially those that may have been coming from Canada. Although there are many who get on in Philadelphia and off in Washington or Delaware, there are many who are on for the long eight hour ride and are always willing to strike up a conversation.
I once saw a woman offer a bottle of water to her window seat neighbor because she was thirsty but did not know that the Café Car was closed because she fell asleep and missed the announcement. Very grateful, the other passenger offered to pay for the water but the woman declined, only happy to help. It's as though Amtrak returns us to a place of brother/sisterhood where we are all just a recently gathered family making a long journey together. I find it rather awe inspiring.
In a few days I will be making yet another trip on the Carolinian, on my way to visit my grandfather. I look forward to hearing new stories and creating new memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.