The long journey home

Someone once said “the key to a long life is going to bed the same day you woke up.” I’m wondering though if by day they meant 12 hours or 24, and if they have ever been on vacation.

This morning we were up at 5am to catch the 7am train out of Lancaster, PA to Philly and then from Philly to Vermont. Did you know it’s dark at 5am? It was much too early for civilized people to be out and about. (Thanks Auntie, for being a trouper and driving me).  It’s funny how your definition of time differs when you have a 14-hour day of travel ahead of you. All of a sudden 4 hours left feels like you’re almost there and sleeping in a bed within the same day feels like a luxury.

Here’s what I woke up to:

sunrise on the train

Since most of my ride has been during the day, I got to see the countryside, or at least some train stations, lots of graffiti and a few run down buildings. This one prompted me to take a photo. I like the eeriness of the dust settling (or that could be dirt on the window):

travelEven though the journey is long, I do have to say, I enjoyed taking the train far more than I have ever enjoyed flying. And even though there was no dancing bellmen, warm hot chocolate or trips to the North Pole, there still is some romance to being on a train.

travel by trainI hope you enjoyed my trip as much as I did. Until next time…



Christmas past

christmas travel

I grew up outside of Boston in a little town called Winthrop.  On every Christmas eve, Santa would ride around town on a fire engine truck and wave to the kids before he took his famous flight. I remember trying desperately to stay awake so I could hear the clomping of the reindeer hooves on the roof hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa as he made his way down the chimney to deliver our presents.

I may have grown out of thinking a heavy man with a white beard flying around on a sleigh in the middle of the night with magic reindeer, actually exists. But, I have to admit, I still believe in the magic of Christmas and am witness to it every year if not every day.

As you grow older you realize that Christmas is not about presents. It’s really about spending time with loved ones, even ones you don’t know. It’s about being invited to enjoy dinner with a large family that is not your own and feeling welcome and at home. It’s about getting a phone call late night from your dad who just called to wish you a Merry Christmas and ends the call with “good night my little girl.” It’s about feeling loved and cherished and giving love and cherishing those you love.

I hope you had as great a Christmas as I did. Tomorrow, I head back on the train home to Vermont to start my new year. I have a feeling it’s going to be better than the last.

Next Stop, The North Pole, I mean, Philly

christmas travel

It’s Christmas eve, I’m on a train, and unfortunately, it’s not the Polar Express. There is no dancing bellman singing Christmas carols in harmony or a sea of flowing hot chocolate and I seriously doubt I’ll see Santa at the end of my ride. However, there is a bit of festivity in the air as passengers get on and off with excitement while stuffing and un-stuffing packages and luggage into already overstuffed crevices and overhead bins.

I have to admit, the thought of taking the train is such a romantic notion. I feel like I should be wearing a long sleek dress, a mysterious hat, clutching a fancy handbag with my long black gloves. Of course I would be headed to meet some tall, dark, handsome man in some remote mountaintop amidst a snowstorm. Ok, so maybe I’ve watched too many movies or maybe there’s just something about riding 80 mph over the landscape and through the woods on Christmas eve that seems a bit exotic to me.

In all reality, the train from Waterbury to Philadelphia isn’t quite that exciting, though I have to admit, it is much better than flying.

After a cancellation due to the ice storm and a slight delay the next day, I finally made it on the train to Pennsylvania this morning, suitcase, laptop and fiddle in tow.

Though I was bumped from Business class due to the cancellation yesterday and overbooked train today, I must admit that even in coach, the train is a comfy ride. It’s half the price of flying and there is no security I need to go through, no seat belt I need to fasten, no waiting for the pilot to shut off the fasten seat belt sign before I can get up, no turbulence, and no wondering how the hell we actually get up in the air and stay up there. Nope, instead I got me a nice comfy seat right here on the ground moving at the swift pace of exactly 79 mph. According to the conductor we are not allowed go any faster than that (yes I did ask). It actually makes me a bit dizzy to stare out the window. It’s hard to fixate your eyes on anything out there going at this pace. I guess now I know how passengers in my MINI feel. 😉

I’m a little over 4 hours into my journey and the snowcapped (or more recently the ice-capped) mountains of Vermont are long gone and now what I mostly see are small towns, quaint train stations and buildings with some interesting graffiti painted on the walls.  Currently, I’m enjoying the luxury of both a window seat and the aisle seat as the person sitting next to me got off a few stops ago. For that I am thankful.

It’s Christmas eve and I am expecting to arrive in Philly somewhere around 8:30ish, if all goes well, and hopefully my lovely Auntie and I will find a place to celebrate the season in some church with beautiful Christmas music. If you have any suggestions feel free to leave them below. In the meantime, happy Christmas eve. Enjoy the comforts of wherever you are and may the magic of the season make your day great.

Leaving, not on a jet plane


There was a period of time as a child, when my dad lived right next to some train tracks somewhere in Massachusetts, I can’t seem to remember where. I do remember though, it was a small yellow house and sat literally so close to the train tracks that when the train came by you could feel the whole house shake. It almost felt like the train was going to come right through the front door.

As you can imagine, as a kid, feeling the house vibrate as this huge train passed by was enchanting and fun. My little brother was just a little tyke at the time, tiny and scrawny with bouncing blond curls and curious brown eyes. When we’d hear the train coming he’d run to the window in excitement and scream “choo-choo, choo-choo,” and jump up and down in excitement acting as if we all couldn’t hear the locomotive approaching inches from the living room. Not matter what was happening during the day, hearing that train made us all stop what we were doing and run to the window to watch it pass by in excitement.

Many years later here I am in Vermont and though I don’t live that close to the train tracks, I do hear the train as it passes through my little town. And every time I hear it whistle it makes me smile. For some reason the sound of it is soothing and reminds me of my childhood.

Tomorrow, I get to hear first hand the sound of that very train as I embark on my Christmas journey across the country. Well not exactly across the whole country, really just across a few states, (the whole country sounded much more romantic). I’m just heading to Pennsylvania from Vermont for the holidays by train. I’m looking forward to being on the inside of that enchanting train that has followed me throughout my life.

I’ll keep you posted on my journey.

Happy holidays and travel safe!

UPDATE: Due to severe weather conditions, my train today has been cancelled today. I leave on Tuesday instead.

First Stop Dublin

Dublin, IrelandAs you might guess, I made it safely across the pond. Arrived in one piece and even slept on the plane despite the fact that I had the back middle row and middle seat. It was most likely the worst seat on the plane and yet I actually fell asleep sitting up which made the 7-hour journey seem painless.

I decided not to rent a car and just rely on Ireland’s bus system. After only taking one cab ride I’m so glad I did. Riding on the opposite side of the car is one thing but driving on the other side of the road is another.

Today I ventured into Dublin and I have to admit, it will not go down as one of my favorite cities. Maybe its because I just didn’t know where to go and mostly wandered around watching street musicians and getting lost. Or maybe I just don’t have the city in me anymore. I love the countryside and am so excited to head to Donegal  and Glencolmcille tomorrow.

To hear more details of my musical journey check out Session Obsession for a full account of my trip to Ireland.

Ireland, a Musical Journey for the Books

glencolmcille, Ireland

Photo: Glencolmcille Slide Show on TripAdvisor

It was about a month ago when a woman in Ireland found my Irish music blog, Session Obsession, and wrote to me. She wanted me to know about a little fiddle school in Donegal she teaches at and asked me to check it out if ever I was in Ireland. So of course, I’m heading across the pond to take a looksy. In 8 days and counting. I’ll be attending said fiddle school and blogging about my musical experience on my Irish music blog. Feel free to sign up to receive emails on Session Obsession so you can follow me on my trip.

For most of the time I’m in Ireland I’ll be staying in housing near the school. I’m not exactly sure where the housing will be yet but I’ll post pictures when I get there.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to navigate my way from Dublin to Donegal sans car. Since I’m flying solo on this extravaganza and won’t have a copilot to help navigate, I decided not to rent a car. So I’m planning on busing it around the country. Me, my laptop, suitcase and fiddle.

I’ll start in Dublin, head to Donegal for a week and then will spend a few days in Galway before heading home. It should be a great trip.

Sign up to receive emails of my trip to Ireland.

Related Post: How blogging helped my fiddle playing

A Visit to York, Pennsylvania

Travel to York, PAWell, finally I’m traveling again. This time I’m not taking a plane. I’m driving my brand new Metallic Hot Chocolate 2013 Mini Cooper S over the river and through the woods to York, Pennsylvania.

I have to admit, it’s not my dream vacation destination, but it does play home to my lovely aunt, and cousin who’s little family just became bigger with the birth of their second child. And after all, it is Christmas time.

I’m not sure exactly how I will get there but friends from Pennsylvania told me to go by way of Albany, NY. So I’ll lay out my plan tonight before I leave in the morning and with a little help from Siri, I think I should be fine. My biggest task (aside from figuring out directions) is to find out what radio stations NPR is on throughout the states I’ll be driving through so I can listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I suspect I have about an 8-hour drive ahead of me.

I’ll keep you posted.

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