Peanut and I have been back in Florida for a couple hours now, and I’m still decompressing from our long weekend in Washington, D.C. I’m not really the picture-takin’ sort of dude, but I do have a few I’d like to share, and a few stories and experiences I’ll dole out over the course of the next few days. This was my first visit to my nation’s capitol and I deeply regret I was only able to spend a couple of days there.

I have decided, though, that I want trains. Lots and lots of trains. Everywhere.

What you have to understand is that I grew up in Tampa Bay, where we sad folks haven’t developed anything even remotely resembling mass transit. If you want to go from Point A to Point B your options involve slogging your stupid ass through traffic or paying someone else to do it for you. There are buses, but not nearly enough of them, and not nearly to enough places… and anyway, a bus is pretty much just a whole group of stupid asses slogging through traffic all at once.

So I always understood, intellectually, that some people lived in areas where it was possible to hop a train at Point A and simply emerge at Point B, the way one might do an elevator or an airplane. But it was not really possible to parse the experience. Travel between two points without any real concept of the intervening distance? Why… that’s a fairy tale. And not being forced into an active role in traversing that distance? Poppycock! Pure fantasy! I viewed maps of various metros and subway systems around the world much in the same way I might view one of Middle-Earth: a passing curiosity. A morbid interest. But not something real.

So arriving in D.C., and puzzling out the metro for myself firsthand… it was amazing. The experience was every bit as profound to me as walking through a Smithsonian exhibit. The colors and directions and farecards all made perfect sense. Getting from the airport to our hotel was, like, a five step process. And none of those steps involved me slamming my brakes, merging into heavy traffic or searching for exit signs.

If you go to D.C. and you even think about renting a car, you are a fool. You are a foolish fool and I will make fun of you.

Anyway, Florida has been kicking around some sort of high-speed rail idea for the past decade or so. You can’t really have a subway here, but the ability to just park my car and ride across the bay into Tampa and beyond — it about blows my mind. Do you have any idea how much fun it is to spend a day in Orlando? Do you know how many times I’ve actually done it, knowing there’s a five-hour drive attached? Yeah.

So that’s the first D.C. experience I felt it was important to share: trains. Trains. They’re awesome, and I wish I had some, and driving to work tomorrow night is going to make me feel like a chump.

5 comments to DUDE. TRAINS.

  • Gredlen

    I know exactly how you feel. After I got back from Japan, I was like, “Wait, you mean I have to drive everywhere again? Dude, whatever. Driving’s for suckers.”

    I mean, driving is actually kinda OK, but I would really love to be able to just take the train wherever.

    They’ve been talking up building rail transit from one side of the island to the other, but by the time they’ll even have gotten started (assuming it does actually come to fruition at some point in the near future), I’ll be out of here.

  • Elfir

    What really amazes me about a good subway system? Getting lost wandering around a big city and being able to find your way home just by going down a mysterious staircase in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s thrilling! Control thy destiny!!

  • We talked about it last night, but there really is no excuse for a state like Florida not to have some kind of state-wide mass-transit, especially where there are at least three major cities (Tampa, Orlando, Miami), and that excludes anything up in the panhandle.

    The Northeast has a very nice railway system that connects Boston to DC, and hits all the nice stops in-between (NYC, New Haven and Stamford CT, and so forth). I’m surprised the rest of the country hasn’t caught on yet.

  • ThricebornPhoenix

    There are buses, but not nearly enough of them, and not nearly to enough places…

    Buses here are always several minutes late if you show up early, and several minutes early if you show up late. If you get to the stop on time, the bus will usually pass right by. I want trains, too!

  • MCBanjoMike

    The train is the ultimate form of transportation. Pity that Amtrak screwed the concept up so badly; after two failed attempts, I’ll probably never attempt to take the train to New York again.

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