The Last Steam Engine

Beltane Waxing Dyan Moon

South Bend, Indiana Room 5, car 2901 at the junction of Eastern and Central Time

Outside the train with his family is a young boy I encountered about 4:00 a.m. with his head down in the toilet. He looks better now, smiling and happy to be on friendly ground.

The train carried me through western Pennsylvania and northern Ohio, brushing Lake Erie, as I slept. The sound of a train’s horn becomes a machine age lullaby, the slight rocking of the train a metal nanny rocking you to sleep. I realized on the way down that this has an older association for me. Our home on Canal Street in Alexandria, Indiana sat only a couple of blocks from the Nickel Plate Railroad’s tracks. Each night at midnight the nation’s lasting functioning steam engine came through town and sounded its horn where the tracks crossed nearby Monroe Street.

It feels good to be headed north where 70 is a more normal high during the day, not at night. The heat and traveling alone began to wear on me on the last day in Savannah. I chose a refueling option with the rental car that made it optimal to bring the car back empty. Near the time I decided to go the airport to drop off the car I began looking for a seafood place for a last lunch. None appeared. Even with the air conditioning on the heat beat against the car. Wanting to shed the responsibility I drove to the airport and by the time I got there I was hot, hungry and bit nervous about my nearly empty gas tank.

In part this was a reflection of my desire to be quit of this place and, like the young boy, to be back on friendly ground. Back now in the Midwest, riding through Indiana on the way to Chicago, I have gotten there. The train makes travel simple, so I can focus on enjoying the ride.