Sunday, July 18, 2010

Side trips on the way to the train ride

When I decided to ride Amtrak's Heartland Flyer from Norman, Oklahoma, to Gainesville, Texas, after checking to find out the fare was reasonable ($25 one-way, because of booking so close to departure), my plan was to drive my car to the Norman Depot and leave it until I returned, either that evening or the following day. But my husband, Gene, mentioned on the Friday afternoon before I was to leave Saturday morning that a co-worker had told him it wasn't safe to leave a car overnight at the depot. I don't have anyone (besides Gene, who would already be in Texas) I'm comfortable calling on short notice for something like a ride to the train station on a Saturday morning. So I really didn't know what I would do. If I hadn't already booked my reservation, I probably would have canceled the trip. The fun, convenience and spontaneity of riding the train was lost if I had to start calling to find a ride! On top of that, it was hard for me to believe the city of Norman (and Amtrak, for that matter) wouldn't make it a priority to keep passengers' cars as safe as possible. And the train station is right across from the Sheriff's Department and not far from the police station. But it's also right across the tracks from services for the homeless. Because of that, after Gene raised the concerns, I didn't dare want to risk leaving my car there and having it stolen or broken into.

So, acting on about the same kind of whim that led me to even make the train trip, I checked the Yellow Pages to see what kind of taxicab service Norman has. I called and found out a trip to the depot would be about $12. That seemed pretty reasonable. I called for the cab to arrive about 8:15 a.m. for my 8:50 train departure. The driver seemed to be glad to have a fare in what he said is a pretty slow summer in Norman (although not as slow as it used to be). It was a pleasant, leisurely way to get to the depot, and I figure the fare plus a small tip was worth it for convenience and car insurance!

At the train station, I had the pleasant surprise of realizing the depot is home to the Performing Arts Studio of Norman, and on display was an art exhibit for which I had just edited the newspaper's review at work the day before. Dixie Erickson's excellent "Instrumental Art" centered on banjos.

From The Oklahoman's review by John Brandenburg: "This banjo was the director of my band — I played all the variations," the Norman artist said of her use of various media and methods to celebrate the instrument. "My music is sight, not sound — all the different styles, all the different mediums, all the different looks of the banjo."

I never seem to make it to galleries to see art exhibits, so I was glad this was placed along my pathway to ride the train! Adding to my enjoyment of the exhibit was the juxtaposition: To see the single-themed artwork, I had to look above the wide variety of people seated below the mounted pieces, waiting for the train to arrive.

I guess the point of all this is to note that my decision to take a different route to a familiar destination led to unexpected perspectives and experiences. And that seems to be how it always is with life. I'm glad I was open to the opportunities. I hope to experience more soon.

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