After 2001 – Twin Towers – and the somewhat suspicious (too fast) roll-out of the so-called “Patriot Act” a number of people I know quit flying.

Oh, not that they were on the no-fly list. But since they don’t take crap and understand people’s right to quietly “be” anywhere in the country, they didn’t want to take a chance on decking some too snoopy micro bureaucrat.

So they gave up flying and opted for cars and trains.

I happened (consulting hat on) to talk with one such person (a colleague) about how his recent travels on the train have been around the country.  When we weren’t bemoaning terrible data rates on mesh networks, that is.

Most recently, he and his wife got on a train in the east of S.F. area and rode the California Zephyr all the way to Chicago, and from there on to Pittsburgh.

“We had a great time,” he told me. “Took about 56-hours, but it was glorious. Since we got the sleeping compartment with its own toilet and sink, and the food is included, we had wine and food and the best seat in the house crossing the country.”

It sounded almost too good to be true. “Tell me about the Internet connectivity,” I urged. Elaine and I like trains a whole bunch, too.

“Not so good. What you would have to do is bring a wireless hotspot and fire it up when you get into cities along the route.”

That didn’t sound like a lot of fun. “But I talked to one of the engineers and he figured within three years and that was a year ago…” So maybe there is hope.

The idea of having the country roll past while I don’t have to drive is incredibly appealing. “The coach folks up front can get a little rowdy, but the sleeper car people are very nice. I think it was about $15-hundred each, but remember, that was with travel and what would be hotel plus the food. And it was pretty neat.”

My traveling friend admitted that it’s not as up-to-date as the trains in the Northeast corridor. Still, I keep eyeing a train trip for Elaine and I to New York City and that would be all kinds of fun. Assuming, that is, I can get her into traveling ultra-light…like a backpack since luggage always makes me uncomfortable on foot. I feel too much like carrion before the wolves in a big city. ‘Especially since he mentioned a train change in Chicago. Armor plate, anyone?

There are some interesting hacks he’s picked up – invented, actually – along the way. One of them involved pizza.

Seems on one of his trips, he was able to get a cell connection outside of Denver and he knew (being the meticulous researcher he is) who had the best pizza near the train station.

Would you know? Some of the people riding overheard him ordering pizza which was all to be delivered to the station during the 20-minute stopover in Denver.

As the trainload of hungry people arrived, the eyes started looking for the Pizza. Five minutes went by. Then 10. Then…wait! That was the Pizza delivery! Five minutes to go, but the pizza came through. Money changed hands, the pizza went aboard the train, and the journey continued…with a great pie to go with the great views.

I have always preferred trains to cars. They give a much more “honest” view of a country. See, on the Interstates, you see a very “managed” scene. Everything is kept looking just so, trimmed-up and strack, in order to entice the passersby to drop in and spend some money.

But with the train view, it’s different. You can’t stop the train (OK, maybe once, but home is a long walk, lol) and that means restaurants don’t pay much attention to what things look like “out back.”

This was especially useful to observe when we’d flown the Beechcrate up to Connecticut a couple of years back and had taking the #172 into NYC. Yup, things out by the tracks are a much more revealing portrait of income differentials, among other things.

One of these first days – when we get past the parade of visitors coming down to the ranch over the holidays, we will see about a train trip. But maybe it will be one of those “we’ll get to it” deals. There’s a lot of time left in Life, and we don’t want to run out of exciting things to do. Like pizza at the station in Denver or some other whistle-stop. Could be fun.

I mean if trains had whistles, anymore.

A New Vitamin Department!

Well, two actually.

Astaxanthin is the first one.

This is the reddish carotenoid that occurs in some algae and is responsible for the pink in salmon and other fish.

Main uses are for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, high cholesterol and age-related macular degeneration.

Good scoop on it over here on the WebMD site.

The second one we’re tinkering with is Saffron.

This is used for asthma, cancer, atherosclerosis, depression, Alzheimer’s, heartburn and dry skin. It is also possibly related to retarding age-related macular degeneration. Also an aphrodisiac, too, says over here.

We laughed about it, though. At our age, if our vision REALLY cleared up, would that kind of tone down the desire department?

Field trials to follow. Results will not be made public. Run your own.  Gentlemen and ladies are discrete.

If I don’t remember writing this column in the future, the first one didn’t work, lol.

Airplane Sale Adventures Cont’d.

Good grief. Of COURSE I check out the bona fides of people calling in response to our ad in Trade-a-Plane for the Beechcrate which we’re selling.

No, we don’t “need” to sell the airplane. If we do so, it will be to someone who has appropriate ratings and is in the FAA database.

Just like selling a car, there’s an amazing number of people out there – like sharks – circling to see if they can sniff blood in the water to work a scam.

Not here.

Pilots are stand-up people. And no, if someone is not in the database, they don’t get the time of day from us.

And when people say it’s a “computer error” let’s see what happens when I offer to call the FAA on conference to see if they can’t get things straightened out.


Turnip trucks don’t fly and pilots don’t fall off them. We use aircraft escrow services, like grownups.

Next scammer that calls, should I call Homeland and have them ask the questions?

Write when you get rich,