Can’t train Americans |

Can’t train Americans

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

All those cars on Interstate 70 and inside each one a patriotic American wishing he or she was on a train.

Aren’t we all just itching to ditch our SUVs, sports cars and sedans for a seat among our countrymen and women on a train, the climate and speed of which we can’t control, in which we can’t carry all our junk, that doesn’t stop everywhere we want it to, that’s just chock full of fellow Americans whom we’re just dying to get to know?

We’re a nation that’s tired of trying to prove our manhood with our mammoth pickups and sleek sports cars. We’re somewhat humiliated by how hard we’ve tried to look tough by placing large stickers of urinating cartoon characters in our back windows. We regret every bumper sticker and personalized license plate. We’ve wearied of showing off how wealthy we are with our yellow Hummers and limited edition Porsches.

We want the egalitarian anonymity of Amtrak. And those of us who aren’t ultra-macho or mega-rich, we want to be put in our place ” and that’s on a train, crowded into a row with our fellow hardhats and cubicle-creatures where we’ll have no delusions of becoming the next Warren Buffett, Bill Gates or Clay Aiken.

Plus, we’re full of envy for our European cousins who decades ago reached enlightenment standing on their cold train platforms, slaves to the train schedules. They’ve experienced the wisdom of not coming and going exactly when they please.

And if we’re forced to ride trains, we simply can’t spend $600 on industrial-sized tubs of salsa and a year’s supply of plastic silverware at Costco because we won’t be able to haul it all home.

Gosh, Americans hate unfettered freedom of movement. That’s why the book “On the Road” ” Jack Kerouac’s canonization of the road trip as a purely American form of adventure ” has been so despised since the day it was published and is barely even mentioned, let alone read, by anybody anymore.

Seated safely on a train, with no steering wheel or speedometer to bother us, we’ll finally be able to give our cell phone calls our full concentration; no more having to divert a third or even half of one’s attention to those fellow motorists whom we must try not to crash into while sharing the roadways we have all built with our taxes.

Elected officials in Eagle County, Colorado, and throughout the homeland are justified in their adoration of trains, monorails and similar communal conveyances as the solution to traffic problems local, regional and national.

And isn’t traffic always a problem?

Take Eagle County ” occasionally, a driver with better things to do has to wait through a whole cycle of the traffic light at the main Edwards intersection. Can’t you see him or her pining for the empty rails across the river?

And wouldn’t we all cherish having our morning jogs garnished with the symphonic rumbling of a train passing by? Oh can’t you hear the nostalgia for the old boxcars days drowning that annoying High Country hum of the wind in the pines and the rapids of the river?

I guess the speeding Hummers and squealing big-rigs on the interstate just aren’t noisy enough to remind us we don’t live in the middle of nowhere.

Those naysayers who think the good old locomotive is a quaint relic of previous centuries should look around at just how popular train travel is. Aside from subways and commuter rails ” which nobody rides ” regional train routes are just booming.

I mean, not a single one has been canceled, shut down, abandoned or forced out of business since that golden spike was driven at Promontory Point. Americans are simply clamoring to ride the rails.

And man oh man, tourists arriving at Eagle County airport will just love the convenience of gathering up all their luggage, skis, strollers, golf clubs and other junk, dragging the unwieldy, over-stuffed bags over to a train platform (or onto the bus that goes to the train platform) and then having to load it all onto a train (while the kids are screaming that they’re hungry) and then, having arrived a half hour later at the Vail train station (the kids are now starving because the train didn’t stop at the Wendy’s on the way out of Eagle) figuring out how to schlepp all that baggage to the van that will take them to the hotel where, finally, a bellboy may relieve them of their loads.

(Don’t forget to ask the bus boy which bus goes to the McDonald’s in West Vail. The kids do not want to eat at Wildflower or Larkspur.)

Anyhow, it’s those horrible, bloated government bureaucracies ” such as the nefarious, car-crazy Colorado Department of Transportation ” that are addicted to pavement and highways. Not the American people.

For no other reason than to justify their gargantuan budgets do they add more lanes to interstates or build new freeways, and we mass-transit-loving Americans seethe when the evil transportation agency builds us a freeway interchange that’s closer to either home or the office.

Gee, how we hate taking the shortest distance between two points.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or

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