Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama and Biden Training for the Future

I love trains. They don't have the impulse and pinpoint anyplace-to-anyplace travel capabilities of automobiles, and they can't get across vast distances as fast as airplanes - both of which are incredible - but, otherwise, trains have it over every other kind of transport. They are certainly the best way of traveling from New York City to Washington, which I do at least several times a year. You can eat, sleep, read, write, work, use the facilities while you're moving to your destination - you can only do the first, more or less safely, if you're driving - and trains are much more relaxing than planes.

So I would have been glad, in any case, about Barack Obama and Joe Biden going to Washington, DC today by train.

Obama began the trip with a speech in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. It's a great, classic station, which opened in 1933, the year that FDR took office. A nice parallel there with Obama, in addition to the resonance with Lincoln's train rides.

The Obamas picked up the Bidens in Wilmington, Delaware. The men and their wives looked like a Currier & Ives come to life on television as they boarded the train, long overcoats and scarves and big smiles. Joe Biden has been a champion of Amtrak and train travel in America - which, given the hard time our government has been giving it, needs all the help it can get.

I've never actually boarded or left a train in Wilmington. But I've enjoyed what I've seen of the station and city from the train so much - especially the neon signage on the streets beyond - that I gave Wilmington Station a major role in my 2003 science fiction mystery novel, The Pixel Eye.

The train just slowed down as it passed through Edgewood, Maryland, Obama and Biden waving from the back...

Next stop, Baltimore ... and I'll be back with more after Baltimore and Washington, DC.
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