They assigned me to seat 41 before I boarded the train. So, naturally, when I got on, there wasn’t one.
Once he came to mark our seats, he fixed where he wanted us. We were underway on time just before noon, and though I was quite hungry, the earliest reservation was at 2:00 by the time it got to our car.
I was seated with two older guys. Both hard of hearing, and one nearly blind. Minimal conversation entailed because it required me to yell. A young guy visiting a friend for his first time in Houston was seated to me after we had already been served. He spent much of the meal texting, and indeed every time I saw him on the train after that he was texting away.
Later in the evening after we had passed over the Sabine river into Texas I sat for a while in the observation car. When we were passing through Dayton, there were about four other tracks next to us, and a line of shrubs and fence hemmed them in. Three small calfs were running along the other tracks, obviously spooked by our passing.
When we got close to town, there was an obvious 50′ hill on the north side of the tracks. I’m assuming it was a landfill from the looks of it. In the flat coastal area, it stuck out quite obviously.
We pulled into Houston almost an hour early, the sun was setting on the skyscrapers and looked quite nice. I was out of change, and there was a long line of confused people in line to the incompetently slow station attendants. I didn’t think I had a chance of getting change easily. I called my mother collect. She was planning on picking me up, but not for a while.
She commented that I looked like a homeless person with my shaggy hair and travel beard. A brief ride, and I was home. Still several days later I’m still settling in, but I will only have a few days until I’m on a place to Reston, Virginia for over a week.