Train railroad travel Texas history

Trains keep a-rollin' by Josh Trudell

Deep thoughts for a moment…

As life progresses, some patterns seem to appear. Every few months or few years, some subject or person will pop up again that I haven’t thought about or talked to in what seems like forever.

One of those things for me is trains.

It’s funny – railroads are a relative cipher on the American landscape compared to their heyday, but the romantic nature remains. While planes have replaced them for long-distance passenger travel, air travel doesn’t have the visual impact of the passing countryside and the steaming locomotive.

That impact is still felt, too. When I was a rookie reporter, my first big writing project was about trains. I got more feedback from that piece than for anything else I’ve ever written or designed.

Afterward, I was happy to put my notes away and concentrate on new stories, but the subject kept coming back to me.

My father-in-law, who I met just after finishing the train project, is a railroad enthusiast. On a couple of trips back to New England, I’ve taken the train from Boston to his house. When driving to Phoenix from San Antonio, the road ran next to the railroad for miles.

It’s been enough to keep railroads on the periphery of my world.

Over the weekend, I took a train trip from Cedar Park to Burnet. The Hill Country Flyer is a nice little scenic rail trip meant for tourists and people of a certain generation remembering their youth.

While the number of memories floating around the car was perhaps not unexpected, what struck me was the number of adults waving at the train and urging their children to cheer as it passed by.

These adults have lived almost their entire lives with planes and cars as the primary forms of transportation in this country, yet trains still have a nostalgic grip on them, fueled by memories from parents and grandparents.

One grandmother I met this weekend talked about going to the depot after her chores were done and watching the trains come in on Saturday nights with her mother. “That was exciting!” she said, looking for a moment like that young girl.

It still is, and hopefully always will be.

Photography: While I enjoyed the train trip, I'm kind of disappointed in the resulting photos. I may need a dedicated photo project to really get myself back in gear.

Game of Thrones premiere: I'm happy with it, but I hope all the set up they did pays off with more action soon. It seemed as if the whole episode was catching up with everyone. I've read the books, so I know it's a set-up to awesome, but they need to make with the pay-offs to keep the newbies involved.

Opening day: Is this week! Bring on the baseball!

Movie watch: We've started catching up on the Avengers-related movies, starting with Capt. America. The sound on the blu-ray is fantastic. Next up: Iron Man.