The Trek Begins


Sign on Elkhart depot door

On Tuesday evening Eldon took My Joy and Me to the home of my son Conrad and her daughter Jill. They took us to the Elkhart train depot, a relic of an era when train transportation was the way to travel.  Conrad walked around the building and discovered an open door and the man in charge who pointed out that the door was n0t locked, just stuck. The train was too late for Conrad and Jill to stay into the night.

depot interior

depot interior

A family with a son and a girlfriend waited with us. The nineteen year old son was leaving for three months of training to prepare him for two months of international service with Youth with a Mission. His parents and girlfriend were obviously proud of him. (It reminded me of the time I left my home for Civilian Public Service at age nineteen.) The train arrived in Elkhart an hour late.

Jill putting tickets on our luggage, and Conrad reading the bulletin board

Jill putting tickets on our luggage, and Conrad reading the bulletin board

We were ready to stretch out on the narrow bunk beds provided for us. During the night I tried to tell My Joy about the beautiful moon, but she could not hear me and anyway, I discovered the upper bunk had no window. At breakfast time we were seated across the table from a couple from Portland going to Washington, DC. They had been traveling for three days. Later we wished we had learned more about them.

Priority given to freight trains and track repairs delayed us so we arrived in Pittsburg four hours late. The delay caused us to miss our connection, so Amtrak gave us bus transportation to Harrisburg, PA. Other passengers going to Washington D. C were given another bus. Our travel bags looked much alike, and we set them down side by side beside the bus to Harrisburg and expected them to be handled properly. At Harrisburg, all bags were claimed but one and that one looked like My Joys.  But it wasn’t hers; It had a Portland address on it. We assumed it belonged to our breakfast companions and expected that they were frustrated as were we. We wished we could talk.

“Lost and found” promised to do its best to locate My Joy’s luggage and return it to her. With some frustration we rented a car, and set the GPS for our hotel in Lancaster.

Our "home" while in Lancaster

My Joy, our rented car, and Country Inn, our hotel while in Lancaster.

On our way we passed the headquarters of Eastern Mennonite Mission in Salunga, Pa. EMM supported me for four fifths of a lifetime and now I receive from them four fifths of a life time pension deposited monthly in my checking account. This was a courtesy call to express my gratitude. I did not know any of the half a dozen staff members that surrounded us. The one person on staff that I remembered from her early years in Florida was on sabbatical leave. Rachel suggested that I try to meet the president of EMM. He was on a long distant phone call to Kenya and could not be interrupted.  We were soon on our way to Lancaster.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
This entry was posted in Family, Highlights, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Trek Begins

  1. Audrey Metz says:

    Martin, I’m so eager to read the rest of the story! Ken and I took the train from Martinsburg, WVA to Sacramento, CA last October and had a wonderful time, The trains all did what they were supposed to (in spite of warnings from friends to the contrary) and we decided we’re never flying again – unless we have to. We enjoyed the meals, our beds and the lulling to sleep of the train’s motion, and had such fun meeting all the people we met and ate with at each meal – seating communally was required, so we ate with strangers each meal! They didn’t’ stay strangers for very long!

    Next month we’re taking the train again – from Charlottesville to New Orleans to Tucson. We hope we’ll have the same memorable experience we did last year. But even if things don’t go as smoothly, we’ll still be train lovers – everybody else can have the cramped planes and poor food!

    Thanks for your story!

  2. Sam Troyer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Betsy and I have fond memories of a train trip to Newton KS so I could conduct a Ken Gingrich and Leona Goering’s wedding years ago. Thanks for the reminder of the joy of train travel versus the cramped/no food conditions of air travel. Hope Joyce’s luggage will be safely returned soon. Sam

  3. Alton Longenecker says:

    I am eager to read the rest of your story of travel to Pennsylvania. I continue to be special to trains, although we have never taken the sleeping car even though we have traveled overnight many timeson the train. One of the most beautiful vistas in the USA is eating breakfast on the Capitol Limited down along the Youghiogheny River, then along the Casselman River between Pittsburgh and Cumberland MD. Now is one of the best times of the year to do that.

  4. Mary bew says:

    Bob and I enjoyed reading of your train travel. More latee!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.