It surprised me how quickly folks started talking with one another. Several folks stopped to ask me what I was knitting. An adorable little girl, who told me that she was 7 now, came to watch me knit. She confided that she had been trying to learn, but just couldn't get the hang of it yet. I assured her that, if I could learn after age 50, soon she would learn. We talked a bit, then her family moved off to play games.
Soon, lunch was being served in the dining car. Linens, real plates, silver and glassware, nicely served all while traveling 70-80 mph down the track. Since all our food was included in the 1st class ticket, we ate what we wanted to eat, including dessert at most meals. Not something we do on a regular basis at home, but on vacation like this? Oh yeah!
Amtrak practices community seating, so we were joined by a couple of single folks from vastly different backgrounds. Mahta lives in Canada. She's a tutor for kids with learning disabilities, most of whom fall into the autism spectrum. Her family fled Iran when she was 10. They traveled in Europe and the U.S. until they were accepted as permanent residents in Canada. Stephen lives south of Seattle. He loves trains and photography, has competed in ballroom dance and plays guitar, with a passion for math along with his music. It was interesting that he was seated with Mahta, as it was evident that his is autistic. Clearly high functioning. He reminded me of a friend's son who also loves music and trains. He was traveling to spend Christmas with his dad in Northern California. The conversations with Mahta and Stephen were really fun.
After lunch, we found ourselves back in the parlour car, chatting with folks. Eventually, things were set up for cheese and wine tasting. Fun! Amtrak does the wine tasting each day, featuring wines from the areas where the train is currently passing. That day was Washington and Oregon wines.
As we found a place to sit and got settled in, a young woman came up to ask if she could join us. We gladly invited her to sit, introducing ourselves. Erica is 28, active duty in the Army Reserves, married to an active duty Marine. She had been in Seattle to visit her parents for a couple weeks, riding the train to return home in time for Christmas with her husband. Flying wasn't an option as she had a 2-week heart monitor test going. We really clicked with Erica, spending much of the remainder of the trip chatting with her.
Right after Erica sat down, Ron joined us for wine tasting. He works in the movie industry, doing special effects. Really fun chatting with him about train travel and what he has worked on that we might know. Even more fun to discover that he had done work on Battlestar Galactica, which we really enjoyed. Ron and the Man had a really great series of conversations about the movies, special effects, trains, politics, etc. After the wine tasting was over, the 4 of us found a spot to sit and continue our conversations.
Eventually, dinner was called. Both Ron and Erica had opted to eat in the parlour car, where there are only 2 selections and you can have a table to yourself. We opted to eat in the dining car, with community seating and a larger selection on the menu. Seated with an older couple, we began new conversations over a lovely steak dinner followed by brownie pie for dessert.
Lingering for a bit longer in the parlour car after dinner, we picked up conversations with Erica and Ron, then decided to turn in for the night.
...may there be mercy in sharing the memories.