April 6, 2022, Houston- The message came over the loudspeaker: “Folks, we are waiting here (6 miles west of Lake Charles, LA), until a freight train heading west (it was actually heading east), is able to pass.” The message came from the spirit world: “The train in question is loaded with flammable materials. It is being held up by a safety check of the cars.” As it happened, the process took one hour. An eastbound freight train passed us, we passed a sidelined westbound train, that was loaded with about thirty-five flammable tanks and cars. This gargantuan city would take another two hours and thirty minutes to reach, from our perch between Lake Charles and Vinton.
Then came the real game changer: On Sunday, April 2, a rail bridge near Dryden, in the Trans=Pecos region of West Texas, caught fire, for the second time this year. All Amtrak passengers would have to disembark in San Antonio. Two of my car mates opted to fly from Houston. I have a commitment, call it what you will, to staying on the ground, this trip. So, a quick phone call secured a room for yours truly at Alamo Inn, San Antonio. I will be in one of my favourite Texas cities, for however many hours are left before check-out. Thus shall a day that has revealed both the interconnectedness of us all, and the fragility of that connection, have played out.
The day started nicely enough, with a shower, good coffee and a quiet hour or so of reflection, at The Quisby Hotel, another welcoming hostel-in a chain of safe havens that I have been fortunate to locate, over the past four years. The Quisby is in New Orleans’ Garden District, across a busy freeway from the Big Easy’s AMTRAK station. I will most certainly seek a place there, whenever my route takes me through NOLA.
A kind and honest driver came to get me at the appointed time. I was assigned a seat on Car # 2, we got underway on time and were efficiently headed west-until the debate at AMTRAK headquarters, as to how to handle our train, in light of the bridge fire, was resolved. A plan was announced to offer each of us a ride back to our place of embarkation (for me, that was New Orleans, and I already knew that the Quisby was going to be full, this evening. Besides, I have commitments in Prescott, this weekend. I will take a bus, if necessary.
The other chain of dominoes that is ever more tightly-connected is with my Baha’i study groups. As I remarked to members of one such group, we will be ever more engaged in threading the needles of various individual and collective needs, in the days and months ahead.
It will be late, very late, when we get to San Antonio, but I know it will be alright.