No Train, No Gain


Over spring break, Isabel Meigs ’16, Mike Frazel ’17, Zoe Rosenfeld ’16, Vikram Chan-Herur ’17 and Stoddard Meigs (Isabel’s twin brother, a sophomore at Vassar College), all took the train from Portland to Emeryville, California. They brought with them a bag of provisions from Trader Joe’s and their school readings. Two among them, Mike and Isabel, had never been to California. The train notes we have offered here are a touching story of friendship and childlike discovery.

HOUR ONE (14:25-15:25)

We just passed Salem, Oregon.

Sheep! Ooh goat! Look more sheep . . . There was a horse.

Read Crime and Punishment; fell asleep.

HOUR TWO (15:25-16:25)

Green field. Very green field. Red-headed Irish maiden should be running in that motherf*****g green field.

Now going faster than (some) cars. Definitely faster than the car with the “Eagle” trailer.

Reflecting on how weird trains are. Thinking about American History. Vikram understands why Isabel likes trains. So does Zoe.

HOUR THREE (16:25-17:25)

Who knew there were so many sheep in Oregon?

Eugene might be cool, look at that hip brewpub.

HOUR FOUR (17:25-18:25)

What river is this? It’s always the Willamette.

Listening to the Dixie Chicks; feeling bucolic.

Many trees. Trees of all sorts.

Went through a tunnel. Like a tunnel under a large cliff.

Second tunnel! Larger tunnel!

Café car man would like you to know that you can have “a snickers and a red bull for dinner” to which I say “yum.”

There are a lot of hipsters on this train. Oh god, I guess that includes us.

HOUR FIVE (18:25-19:25)

Tunnel #3. We discuss who we’d eat first. Probably Vikram.

Tunnel #4.

Tunnel #5. Stoddard’s new friend offers him booze.

Tunnel #6. There is snow on those mountains over there.

We discuss Adam Sandler’s immortal classic “50 First Dates.”

Vikram breaks out the earl grey.

… Tunnel #15.

Tunnel #16.

Tunnel #17; long tunnel, dark tunnel.

HOUR SIX (19:25-20:25 )

The sun is setting. The lighting is dark grey and blue. Soon, it will be dark.

More snow. More and more snow.

If there were more birch trees, this would be more like Russia.

The sun, not unexpectedly, has set in the west.

Vikram: “I’ve been so cheese deprived at Reed.”

Zoe reads Crime and Punishment aloud with great expression.

HOUR EIGHT (21:25-22:25)

Mike sings “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.

Two cookies left. May resort to cannibalism.

HOUR NINE (22:25-23:25)

Mike and Vikram eat last cookie. Entering uncharted territory.

HOUR TEN (23:25-0:25)

Mike looks for metaphors in our train travel. Adds, “but also, who takes trains?”

HOUR ELEVEN (0:25-1:25)

Isabel has never been to California. But I guess she has now. Still dubious.

Hey look, stars.

Why is the moon so bright?! Is this a fake moon?! What is this s**t. F*****g California.

HOUR TWELVE (1:25-2:25)

Isabel is trying to look at the scenery with the help of the steroid moon.

Isabel listens to “California Stars,” tries to appreciate California; success is mixed.

Passed a super cool river. 5 points for California.

Tunnel #∞

Tunnel #∞ + 1.

HOUR FIFTEEN (4:25-5:25)


HOUR SIXTEEN (5:25–6:25)

We’ve stopped in Sacramento. The tickets are being inspected. For the record, the train tickets are just slips of paper on which our destinations are written in Sharpie. #trainlyfe.

Mike thinks up train puns: “SOUL TRAAIN,” and “how to train your dragon,” and “no train, no pain,” and “I’m about to go in-train if we don’t leave Sacramento soon.” Some of them weren’t really puns.

HOUR SEVENTEEN (6:25-7:25)

Mike has exited the train and is playing games on the platform. His hair looks great.


Palm trees! Isabel loves palm trees!

The sun is rising. Somewhere there is a red door.

The moon is very large in the western sky. Everyone chants moon. moon. moon.


We’re passing over a large river.

The fun delirium of being up at 6 is over, and now we’re just tired.