My parents took off from work on Monday to drive us to San Antonio so we could catch our train to New Orleans. On the way we stopped at my brother’s high school. He’s a history teacher (and the department head) at a brand new high school that one might mistake for a small college. They have a food lab, a sound studio, even a robotics lab. All the classrooms are organized into pods with glass walls looking out into a central “lounge” outfitted with armchairs and tables. It’s very cool, and my bro seems to be totally in his element.
After the tour we continued on our way to San Antonio. We didn’t have anything planned to do when we got there, so we went to the Rivercenter Mall and hung out for a bit, and then we walked along the River Walk to find a place for dinner. My parents still had the drive back to Austin ahead of them, so after dinner we said our final goodbyes in the parking garage, and then Stephanie and I walked off into the sunset.
It was around 7, and we still had 5 hours to kill before our train left, so we went back to the mall to catch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It was awesome. I would totally go see it again.
Afterwards, as we were walking out of the empty mall onto a dark street with our packs strapped to our backs, I got that first inkling of what it must feel like to be a vagabond. We no longer had an apartment or a car, or my parent’s house and their car. We had finally shed all the insulating layers of comfort and familiarity. I was wondering when things would stop feeling like a vacation. Now it was just the two of us. On an unfamiliar street. With only our packs. On foot.
Amtrak posters by Michael Schwab
The one thing we did have was a plan. We were taking Amtrak’s Sunset Limited to New Orleans, a 16 hour trip that would arrive early in the afternoon the next day. After a day and a half in the Big Easy, we’d take the Amtrak Crescent all the way to DC, a 26 hour trek, arriving Friday morning. We’d spend Friday and Saturday exploring DC, before catching a train on Sunday to Philadelphia. There we’d be staying with my cousin and his family until we board the Cap Cleveland on Tuesday, September 7th.