Riding the trains in the ATL

Train at Hartsfield

Train at Hartsfield

I’m out of town for the weekend, which means I got to spend Wednesday evening at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Now, us natives were using the ATL code long before it was in a video or movie or anything.  I can’t recall how many times I’ve been at Hartsfield in my life.  I love Hartsfield.  FTR, I completely agree with everything James has to say about how great the airport is.

I really have a life-long affair with Hartsfield.  When I was a tiny little boy, el hermano and I would get up as early as possible on the weekends.  I can’t tell you why – apparently it seemed like a good idea to our three and four year old brains.  Anyway, having twin boys up and running around at 6 am wasn’t my folks idea of a relaxing Sunday morning.  Their solution?  Hartsfield.

This was of course back in the day when you could get as far as the gate without a ticket.  My folks would pack up the car, drive the two of us to the airport, and get on the trains that run between the terminals.  They’d sit us on the “for elderly and disabled” bench on the last car so we could stare out the windows at the tracks.  Then we’d ride the rails for hours.

There was something incredibly meditative about sitting there and staring out the window as the tracks went rushing by.  El hermano and I were entranced.  From what my folks say, the airport was usually empty that early in the morning.  There was no one to really bother us.  I just loved it.  I think my folks liked it because a) it gave them a bit of a break; and b) it was cheap!  All they had to pay for was parking.

Sometimes I still get nostalgic for being able to ride the rails for hours.  I actually kind of envy James and the fact that he gets to take MARTA every morning.  As close as I live to school, and as late as I get out of class, it just doesn’t make sense to take MARTA every day.

I still love riding the train, though, and I love that the East line of MARTA has some great views of the skyline.  Beyond the impact on the environment, or the cost savings, I wish Atlanta had a working rail system simply because there is something magical, meditative, and romantic about taking the trains.  I always feel more alive, more in touch with the movement of others’ lives, and more in the moment when I’m on the trains.

3 Comments so far

  1. Jeanne Bonner (unregistered) on August 30th, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

    Too funny! I love watching trains too. And I do actually love the sound of a train whistle in the distance (even if Paul Simon discounts it).

    When you leave the King MARTA station, you get some of the best views of the downtown skyline. I always turn my head and look — probably looking like some silly tourist.

    What you say about taking trains is totally true! I like the idea that I can escape (mentally) for a few minutes, and let someone else do the driving. Gives me time to do what I want to do!


  2. Atlanta Unsheltered (unregistered) on August 30th, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    I meant to ask. Do you remember riding MARTA as a child?


  3. james hervey (jeherv) on August 31st, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    i love trains too. one of my favorite things in the city is the view of the csx railyard heading into the inman park marta staion. from up there you can see the whole thing, and i love to wonder where those trains are headed to.



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