Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart. ~Mencius
Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train. ~ Barkley
Last weekend my beloved and I embarked on an expedition that many a small child would relish. In fact, we were among only a handful of childless couples among a sea of young families and we were just as excited as the little ones.
We climbed on for a Steam Train Sunday adventure, a once a month chance to ride on an historic steam train through our hometown of Brisbane. We passed through city stations and enjoyed river crossings aboard a vintage carriage pulled by a gorgeous steam locomotive. My son, when he was young, would have busted a boiler and been trembling in his tracks to ride along.
It was a cold and windy Sunday morning after a day of near torrential rain. The sky was clear and a brilliant crisp blue, perfect for a train ride. Arriving at the station the excitement was palatable. Families were lined up for photos in the locomotive. There were smiles on faces young and old.
We two walked the length of the platform inspecting the carriages to discover we were in the second to last carriage. Now we could have been disappointed to be at the back of the train but instead we were delighted. We scored seats in a 1924 Pullman Sleeper carriage. I have to say, it was one of the most elegant carriages on the train. We certainly felt like we’d stepped back in time.
We sat nestled two to a seat (were people smaller in the past? I would have felt very uncomfortable sitting so close to a stranger) with another seat facing us. The seats could fold over to create a bunk and above our heads, tucked away in what looked like airplane luggage compartments, were upper sleeping berths. According to historical sources George Pullman designed the sleeper carriages after an uncomfortable night sleeping in his seat on a train trip from Buffalo to Westfield, New York. While tiny, I would have to curl slightly to fit on a berth, the sleepers would definitely be much more comfortable than sitting upright on an overnight journey. More comfortable than cattle class (economy) airplane travel too I’d say. There were restrooms at each end of the carriage, a separate one for men and women. The ceilings were pressed metal and there were quaint little lights in each corner for reading, though these were no longer working.
At one stage the train stopped, waiting to link to another line, and we could hear a general hubbub of children’s chatter and laughter. It was a splendid way to spend a morning. Volunteer train enthusiasts were on hand to answer questions, provide guidance and ensure the safety of all aboard. We were encouraged to wander the carriages which was great fun as we got to walk across the open gangway watching the tracks speed by beneath us. Our journey lasted an hour and cost a mere $24 each, which is a small price to pay for so much fun and history, plus it’s a nice contribution to the upkeep of the train and carriages.
“Fizzling fireboxes” it was an outing that “rattled my rods” , “pumped my pistons” and “flamed my funnels”. Don’t they say we should feed our inner child every now and again? Are you allowing your inner child to run wild?