by Judy Bonn
The Villages, Florida
Back in the summer of 1997 a most unusual thing happened to me on the Amtrak Auto Train. The story really begins the summer before in 1996; I had been a widow for seven years. My son and his friends were just over 18 and had announced that they no longer wished to vacation with mom. I was faced with taking my first vacation completely on my own. I took the Auto Train to Lorton and toured Virginia, visiting Williamsburg and traveling all the way to my beloved Shenandoah Mountains before returning home. It was so much fun I decided to do it again in 1997.
Well, there's an old saying that you can't do the same thing twice and have it turn out the same. In 1997 I came down with a sore throat in Williamsburg and it rained most of the rest of the trip. In disgust, I cut my trip short by four days and returned on the Auto Train earlier than I had planned. In the Lorton station I saw a handsome gentleman with three teenagers. I thought how neat he must be to take three teenagers on a trip without a mom. So I struck up a conversation with him; we talked and talked all evening. After dinner we got together in my Roomette and talked some more.
The boy and one of the girls were his and the other girl was his daughter's friend. They were from Springfield, Illinois and were traveling to Disney World after having visited his parents in Maryland. We spent a lot of time together the next morning and exchanged phone numbers. He said he would call me. Now, I'm not stupid, I'd heard that one before; but he did.
After three years of visiting back and forth between Illinois and Florida we were married on June 17, 2000. Just think — if I hadn't had to cut short my vacation, I would never have met this wonderful man. We've traveled a lot by train since then and we always smile and reminisce when we board the train.