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  • On Friday morning at 6:04 am, my flight takes off for Chicago.

    Several hours later, at 2:15 pm in Chicago, I will embark on the Empire Builder Amtrak train to Seattle.

    It will take me 46 hours and 10 minutes to get to Downtown Seattle from Chicago. I'll cross through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.

    This train route has been on my bucket list for several years. I've never been to the Pacific Northwest or any place like it. The farthest west I've been is Arizona. This is a whole new world to me. I'm really looking forward to absorbing new places from the window of a rolling train. I always get my best thinking done on trains - the forward motion gives me a sense that I'm "on track."

    To be honest, I'm a bit train obsessed. It all started when I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2007. I bought a rail pass that included 15 days of travel to any place in the UK within 2 months. I milked that rail pass for all it was worth. Sometimes I'd travel with friends, other times I'd go on a little sojourn by myself.

    During that semester in Edinburgh, I learned to love traveling alone. I'll admit it was a bit uncomfortable at first - figuring out how to comfortably eat alone in a crowded restaurant was a bit rocky. I began to carry books everywhere with me and talk to strangers (sorry Mom!). Traveling alone became a staple of adulthood for me.

    A long train journey seemed like a natural fit because I wanted this trip to feel like a journey, not a jet-set. Taking off and landing only a few hours later in Seattle after a full work week sounded really disorienting to me. So much time and consideration has gone into building a relationship with Lisa. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment when I finally arrive in Seattle and meet her. It's not like I flipped a light switch and BOOM we had a close relationship. It took many conversations over text, email and even late night phone calls before we really "knew" each other.

    I'm feeling remarkably calm about this trip, and I think that's because of the trusting and open relationship I have with Lisa. I'm more nervous about whether I'm going to underpack/overpack or that the weather might be horrible.

    I guess those aren't the worst things to be worried about.
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