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Or warning me.  Perhaps I am being a bit excessive with my traveling.  But what’s enough?  Or, indeed, too much?  I don’t have a clue how one is supposed to know, but there are signs that I may have passed my quota, or gone off the rails…

First Warning: I broke my ankle the day before my much-anticipated trip to Toronto.  That caused all manner of trouble.  Many people were inconvenienced by that little slip.  Not only was my lovely road trip to Toronto cancelled, but I had to be looked after.

Second Warning: fast-forward to the current leg (I use the term advisedly) of my journey.  I left Olathe Monday evening to drive to Chicago to catch the Amtrak Cardinal, traveling with a dear and patient friend who was driving on to Madison, Wisconsin.  I had a stomach ache the whole way, so I was not great company.  I don’t do ‘stoic’ very well.  Tues night on the train I was supposed to be in a sleeper, but–alas–none was available, so I got to sit up all night.  Can’t complain about that; it’s a perfectly civilised way to travel, especially if you are under thirty.  Well under.

The daytime portion of the trip from Chicago to Charlottesville, W. VA, is quite lovely as it meanders 🙂 through the beautiful New River Gorge in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.   The New River–which actually is among the oldest rivers on the continent–is a rugged, white water river, flowing northward through deep canyons. 

View of New River Gorge from Diamond Point.

I’ve traveled that route on the Cardinal before–about eighteen months ago–with my niece, Mary.  It was summertime then, so everything was green.  This time it was cold and bare.  Even so, there was a sense of grandeur about the place.  Not surprisingly, it is a popular recreational area for whitewater rafting, fishing, rock climbing, hiking…  And I understand that in recent years the rock climbers have discovered that it is great climbing on warm (50°F) winter days when the sun has warmed the rocks.  I don’t know whether this includes those hardy souls who like to indulge in nude rock climbing, but apparently there has been quite a rash of this sort of climbing elsewhere in recent years.  Rash being the operative word.

I don’t think warm winter days have been too frequent lately, if the magnificent icicles draping the rocks are any indication.  They were like a waterfall frozen in time.  Quite beautiful.  I imagine it would be glorious in the autumn.  Apparently it is a very popular trip then.  If you are thinking of taking the train at that time, I suggest you book early…

This next UTube video is way too long to watch all of it–I presume you all have lives to lead outside of Blogworld–but if you’ve never experienced Amtrak, this is a chance to see what it’s like without having to pack.  The first lesson is just how long and far the walk to your coach is.  Always. And it’s the same when you get off.  It’s like one of those planes doing an extreeeemely long taxi out for take-off; you think you should get half your money back for walking halfway to your destination.  Anyway, just skip around by moving the little red ‘button’ ahead to skip over the bits you don’t want to see.

But I digress . . . I was whining before I got distracted by the New River.  Time to get back to it (whining)  When my lovely meander through the New River Gorge on the Amtrak Cardinal eventually ended, there was a bus transfer between Charlottesville, WV and Richmond, VA.  The bus was comfy, the countryside was lovely, and it was generally a pleasant hour and a half.  Except for the litter.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Sanitary Landfill.   USE IT, Please

I have to say it–yes, I do–I have never seen so much litter on any highway or roadway of any sort anywhere in America, Canada, or Australia.  It was awful.  Interstate 64 between Charlottesville, WV and Richmond, VA.  Shame!!

The litter was like this all along I 64 between Charlottesville, WV and Richmond, VA (apologies for the poor quality of the photo; I took it from a fast-moving bus)

Third Warning:  Once in Richmond I had a five-hour wait for my final train.  There was a very limited snack bar, catering mainly for caffein and sugar, but they did claim to sell cheeseburgers.  Having eaten little on the train (memories of Monday night still fresh in my mind) I decided to get the cheeseburger, which came with a can of pop, chips, and food poisoning.  Woe is me.  Five hours later, minutes after boarding the Silver Meteor to Ft. Lauderdale, I commenced up-chucking until around 4:30 a.m.  As that is already too much info, I will spare you any further details, except to say that I cannot report on any portion of that train ride.

It would be fair to say that I was not at my chirpiest when I arrived at my hotel.  Nor my most alert.  Within 15 minutes of checking in I managed to lock myself out of my room.  Don’t ask.

Fourth, and hopefully last, Warning–or one last whine:  This morning I tripped over the carpet outside my room and took a nose-dive.  I have pretty well perfected this manoeuvre over the past several years and can do it almost anywhere.  All I get from it is an ugly knee for the duration of my travels.  There’s something to be said for consistency.

Oh…before I go I want to return momentarily to the New River; I feel cheated–I didn’t see these guys anywhere on the train.        MM

P.S.  Tomorrow is THE BIG DAY–when I board the Silver Whisper (She’s the same ship I sailed on eighteen months ago in the Baltic).  Yes, indeedy, folks–I’m actually taking a slow boat to China.  Come along for the adventure.  Or the craziness.

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