Flying in this country has reached the point where it makes traveling by Greyhound look good. I could stand taking off my shoes and using those silly little bottles for shampoo and conditioner if I knew that my flight would be on schedule, that I'd sit in a clean plane, and that the flight attendants would have a little more cordiality than what you might receive from a prison guard at Guantanamo. But since these things have all disappeared as completely as the term "stewardess, " I travel on any U.S. airlines as seldom as possible and have decided that, for my next trip to San Francisco, I'm taking the train.
I know the sole trace of bygone days will be found only in the name of the route, The Coast Starlight, but that is almost enough. I'm sure that the dining car serves Nescafe and that any food will have been rapidly thawed in a microwave before serving. The lounge will have all of the elegance of a MacDonald's with a liquor license, and I'll probably be sitting beside small , insomniac children who are not housebroken.
And yet I'm going to travel through three states at a pace that will be leisurely enough that I can savor the different landscapes. Nobody will tell me to take off my shoes. And there will be a liquor license in that ugly lounge.
Call me crazy but I'm looking forward to this--and if it turns out to be dreadful, at least it will be a good story.