The Ultimate Cross-Country Train Adventure

I love trains. 

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

I mostly take Metro-North from New York City—where the hustle and bustle of Grand Central and and picking up a Zaro’s pastry for the ride is a trip unto itself—up to the Hudson Valley, where my family picks me up, and the ride is the best. I love getting a window seat on the river side and watching tunnels turn into Harlem turn into mountains turn into West Point. I also love the pricing, the people-watching, and the anonymity. 

Train journeys always have a certain old-fashioned appeal to them, don’t you think? As if you might be on the Orient Express or something.

One of these days, I want to take a train trip across the country. I’ve even got it all planned out. It’ll be the ultimate road trip.

We’ll start in New York and go directly to Chicago, a one-night segment. From there we’ll spend two nights going from Chicago to Seattle, passing through the Twin Cities and Montana on the way, and then from Seattle down through Portland, Sacramento, and San Francisco to LA

From LA it’s on to NOLA, via Anaheim, Tucson, San Antonio, and Houston. Here, there’s an awkward Amtrak scheduling bump, where you’re forced to spend the night in New Orleans.

After that, we’ll head on the next morning back to New York, with stops in Atlanta, Charlotte, DC, and Philadelphia.

The total trip, via Amtrak, will be 8 nights (if we do it all in one shot) and five segments (an Amtrak segment is any time you disembark and change trains). The appropriate ticket covers 15 days and 8 segments (an extra week of travel, with three extra stops, if we choose) and costs $449.

We like travel, we’re easy-going, we know people in at least five of these cities (hello, tour guides and showers), and we gotta get this done while we’re still young and stupid.

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Inspired by the Daily Post.

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Check out this Amtrak writer-in-residence program though! So cool!

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Polo

One of the reasons I like journalism is you get to know a whole lot of cool facts about a whole bunch of stuff you never, ever would have thought about otherwise.

Lately, I’ve devoted some time to learning the basics of polo, in preparation for the Knox Memorial Cup event here in EA, which I covered for the paper.

I doubt many people know anything about polo—I certainly didn’t, except that the English princes play it. So here are a few facts to help you look tres posh if you ever attend a match.

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The field is ginormous

It really is. It’s so large. It’s the area of nine football fields. They cover a lot of ground in polo.

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It takes more than one pony

A serious polo player has eight to ten ponies. And really, with a sport this involved, it’s kind of in for a penny, in for a pound, in my book, because it’s impossible to play with fewer than two ponies. The ponies may play a maximum of two non-consecutive chukkers per match, which means that you need two for a four-chukker match (quite short) and three or four for a standard match.

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 Ponies are horses

Polo ponies are only called that because it’s traditional…they’re actually just horses, usually Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses.

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Argentina is the best

This one is pretty straightforward. Argentina, homeland of the pope and alfajore cookies.

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The periods are called chukkers

Fun, right? This is a word that’s carried over from the Persian origins of the sport.

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Even the AP stylebook isn’t sure how to handle it

And we all know the stylebook has rules for everything (Internet, always with a capital I, anyone?). However, not even the special sports section contains much about polo.

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The positions and players go by numbers

Like any sport, the players are identified by the numbers on their jerseys, but instead of being chosen, the number represents what position they’re playing. Usually, number three is the strongest player and the “coach” figure.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOften amateur and professional players mix

It’s not unusual for a wealthy man (or woman), known as a patron, to pay to put together a team. The team’s ranking, so to speak, is calculated by the goal handicaps of each player added together, so an amateur or two with a couple of professionals can put together a decent team.

Diary of an Intern: Roycroft Festival Weekend

diary of an intern

A few weeks ago, East Aurora celebrated.

I come from a small town that knows how to have weekend festivals (hey, Milford. Miss ya.), but we’ve got nothing on East Aurora when it comes to community and getting involved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy first stop was the Baker United Methodist Church strawberry festival/jumble sale. I LOVE Methodism and “jumble sales” (we don’t have that concept in PA…but I like it!), so this was great.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe got a pretty bangin’ strawberry shortcake with fresh berries, homemade biscuits and homemade whipped cream. Mmmm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADarned Methodists are the friendliest.

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Then we headed on down to Parkdale Elementary for the Roycroft artisan exhibit, which also had food stands and live music. My intern salary means I’m not really in the market for any Roycroft art, but it was fun to wander around.

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Then it was time for a picnic, followed by biking to the middle school for more art.

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How talented are these people? I wish I could paint.

Across the street was another festival/sale at the Roycroft campus.

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It was another happening weekend in East Aurora. I’m headed to the reunion on Friday and, of course, the Sidewalk Sale this weekend–any other recommendations, EAers?

This Tuesday I Love…

blog love (1)

…the people who say hi to me during my morning commute. To whoever knocked on the Vidler’s window and waved yesterday, I have no idea who you were, but hey.

…good PR professionals.

…LexisNexis.

Twitter. Lately I’ve been getting more and more involved with Twitter (thanks, Hootsuite) and it’s so engaging. I’ve had one forever, but I didn’t really use it effectively until recently.

DuoLingo, which I’m redownloading on my phone in an attempt to once again learn a language. I’ve given up on mastery, but it’s time to brush up on those Italian-food-ordering skillz.

…all the newbies who want to join the Torch next year. I’ve been inundated with fantastic emails and I’m so excited to expand our horizons. Managing this little paper can be overwhelming with business and bureaucracy, but the journalism and the people are the BEST.

…everyone I already work with at the Torch, but especially Gina for being on top of her game even during the summer.

…my trusty bike. I couldn’t do it without you.

…these links:

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What’re you loving these days, readers?

Lost

My family very infrequently goes to the K-Mart at home.

I tell you this to make myself look better.

When I was maybe ten, we were in the school supplies aisle at K-Mart when Mama sent me back to the front of the store to get a shopping cart. I got to the front of the store just fine, and I turned around to go back, and I couldn’t find her again and got hopelessly lost.

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When I was five, we had just moved into our new neighborhood and my parents took us on a walk around the block. I got my mother’s attention and pointed.

“Look! There’s a house with a red door JUST LIKE OURS!”

It turned out to be our house.

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During my first week in Rome last year, not only did I get lost, but I stayed lost in the dark streets of a strange city because I confused McDonald’s with the Metro signs.

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The other day, I was supposed to go in the back door of a church to meet someone. There were about seven doors, and of course the one that I chose led to two more doors: the maintenance closet and an ancient, scary elevator, the kind with those wire screens that you pull across that would certainly do nothing to protect you in an emergency.

I understand that the best course of action probably would be to have gone back outside and chosen another door, but I’d already walked down the hallway and mentally committed.

I got in the elevator and shut the outer door, then pulled the scary screen across. I looked at the elderly buttons with their masking tape labels and decided to continue taking risks and press the one for the basement. I think part of that rationale was that I was less likely to plummet to my death if I was going down than if I was on my way up.

The elevator started going down.

Five seconds passed.

The elevator stopped going down.

I shifted my weight and pressed the screen closed in the hopes that would help. 

I peered through the screen. I could still see the bottom part of the door to the hallway.

I thought I heard footsteps and considered screaming for help.

I considered opening the screen and attempting to push the outer door open so that I could climb out, which I could probably have done, but my roommate Jordan is a total freak about stuff like that and is always telling us how if you get stuck between the platform and the subway you can get spliced and die horribly and so I was afraid that would happen, and being crushed in an elevator would be an awful way to die.

I considered calling the Boyfriend and getting him to rescue me.

I considered smashing all of the buttons. 
Christmas will ferrell elf elevator gif

(GIF via gifwave.com)

The footsteps got louder, I thought, unless the elevator was slowly breaking and it merely sounded like footsteps.

I settled for pressing the first floor button, and miraculously the elevator began to go back up, and I thanked God and my lucky stars, and it rose way too slowly to the ground floor and I flung back the screen and opened the door, just as the person I was to meet came down the hallway, checking to make sure that I knew where I was going and hadn’t gotten stuck in the deathavator.

I played it off pretty well, I think.

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I get lost pretty frequently, probably more frequently than I should, but sometimes it leads to new and exciting things.

Also, the GPS on my phone is a big help.  

This Tuesday I Love…

blog love (1)

 

This blog, and especially this post. For example: “…the phrase “representative of the Lion of Judah” is pretty amazing. It sounds kind of like you’re his personal assistant. I see someone in a power suit walking up to a hostess at a restaurant and saying, “Do you have the table ready for the Lion of Judah? He prefers a booth.” Gold!” The whole blog is gold. And, let’s face it, even committed Christians feel a little funny calling ourselves “servants of the One who Is” or “ambassador of the Most High.” 

C.S. Lewis. As Jon points out, all Christians are required to love C.S. Lewis, but c’mon, daughter of Eve?! Fantastic title.

That, even though I got trapped in a very frightening elevator last week, I was able to escape without anyone knowing my immense panic. It’s always an adventure, people.

Shannon the customer service representative, who was ever so helpful and lovely even though I know how much it sucks to be working in a call center at 7 p.m.

The NYT on middle initials.

ABC family, for hosting Potterhead Weekend. I may or may not have spent 10 hours on Sunday reliving my middle school years.

The amount of positivity I’ve seen on the interwebz recently. Internet (and the media in general, and people, etc etc) gets a bad rap for negativity sometimes, and I think it’s all about what you choose to consume.

Buttons and Birdcages
What are you loving these days?

Five Things I Love About Rome

 1. The history There is absolutely nothing like biking down the Appian Way to make you appreciate history. Rome is chock-full of it, and you can find something fascinating around every corner or down every twisting alley.

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2. The church The arms of Bernini’s colonnade are designed to look like a hug HOW CUTE IS THAT GAHH SACRED TRADITION.

Anyway, I very much enjoy all of the churches/relics/saints/icons/statues/etcetc that can be found in bella Roma.

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3. The food Gelato. Cannoli. Fresh pasta. Arancini. Seafood. Yes please.

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4. The culture My greatest achievement after five months was making restaurant reservations in Italian, but it was a fabulous, interesting peek into a culture that’s in many ways similar and in many ways different to my own.

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5. Visiting it  There’s nothing like a crazy, insane adventure, is there? Especially not like missing the first week of school for an impromptu trip to Europe. If you’ve been following my social media (if not, find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) you may already know, but I have the opportunity to return to Rome as the only student at this professional conference. Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis–what could be more up my alley?  I’m absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to head back to Rome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is where I aim to be during the next conclave!

In order to make this amazing adventure happen, I’m on a spending freeze starting last week, and with careful budgeting I’ll be able to make it work with my intern salary and my part-time jobs at school. I’m also working with St. John’s and my mentors to search for grants that may be applicable. I’ve also started a GoFundMe page, and if anyone feels comfortable donating–even $5, seriously, it helps–I would be eternally grateful, and I’ll send you a postcard from the Eternal City to boot.

I’m so very excited to head back to one of my favorite cities on the planet. Look out for more updates in September!