Since I bought my train ticket, Tom and I can’t get this song out of our heads. Nobody’s complaining, mind. ((Youtube or WordPress keeps puttin’ the kaibash on my embedded video. Click here for Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds performing Train Kept A Rollin’.))

Why a train? Traveling by myself for 45 hours, from Portland to Chicago, trying to sleep in coach? Because I can’t wait a month for fares to drop from $500 to $200 (you know, when kids are back in school). And I figure Amtrak beats Greyhound, which was way cheaper, but it’s a friggin’ bus. I almost off’d myself after a 7-hour bus ride. No way would I be able to handle two days on one. And a train sounds romantic. Probably more romantic with a sleeper car or even a first-class seat, but whatever. I’ll have my Gama-Go Cat Nap sleep mask, Tom’s video Zen (we’re a Mac-free home), and a certain 3-year-old novel to work on.

But what do I eat while trapped on a chain o’ boxes for two days? This is my question for you. The Amtrak site says the dining car has vegan burgers and salads. And you can request vegan meals in advance—but since my meals are not included in my ticket, I’m not going to bother. I can’t see myself eating three squares while getting zero exercise. This does, however, raise my hope that they will have soymilk for my coffee.

You’re welcome to bring your own food, but due to liability concerns, they can’t handle it at all, so you can’t borrow their fridge. I’ll be onboard for two of each meal, starting with dinner. I figure I’ll just eat before leaving, then snack that evening. And I’ve got these ideas for carry-on, non-trail-mix snacks:

•bagel with a little frozen chunk o’ Earth Balance or Tofutti cream cheese
•Clif bars
•dried fruit (I absolutely cannot eat room-temp fruit or vegetables, so stuff your banana and carrot suggestions)
•peanut butter sandwich
•Tofurky Jurky
•chocolate (just ’cause)
•Fig Newmans

What else? Any other Amtrak tips? I’m going to try to score the Quiet Car (can’t reserve it), and I’m taking a little blanket and backpacking pillow, but I’ve never done this before, so any ideas are much appreciated.

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