It has come to my attention that I sent Rylie to Camp Sebeck in Texas for the month of June with lots and lots of undies but no pyjamas.  And so my bid for Mother of the Year continues. 

Here are a few letters I wrote in my head to the folks I met on our trip from Grand Rapids to St. Louis and back… 

Laura Beth

After waiting for news of our train to St. Louis for 5 hours, we finally got up to board and you- of all the 800 other passengers- were standing behind us.  After I got all our schtuff situated in line, I turned around to situate Rylie and found her standing quietly holding your hand.  Seven hours later, Rylie was asking for your address and giving you a hug… and we were both so sad to leave you.  Please move to Michigan, or at least- come visit soon.  We love you very much. Very, very much.

David, Mike, and Too Hungover to introduce yourself

Congratulations on making it through your boys’ weekend, though it doesn’t appear that any of you remember much of it.  You were all very Chicago-Metro-Chic and handsome, though I believe I arrived half-drunk myself from the alcohol oozing from your pores.  Thanks for the throwback to college frat days and weekends with good friends.  I hope you all made it home ok.

girl meeting Jason

I apologize for knowing so much about your personal life, but the volume of your cell phone conversation made every person in our train-car emotionally invested in your journey to Grand Rapids to spend some time with your F*#)ing Amazing New Boyfriend.  If I may offer a word of advice: please don’t use any more of your credit cards to buy seventeen-hundred dollars worth of ‘special bedroom’ toys.  If he’s as awesome as he sounds (and we all heard him), you’ll be just fine.


Mister Conductor on the Pere Marquette, your train is new and clean and awesome.  Thank you for the high-fives every time you passed and the complimentary wake-up call at the Next Stop Grand Rapids.  I quite literally wouldn’t have made it home without you.


Your cafe cart on the Pere Marquette knows no equal.  Rylie is still talking about the man who sells giant m&ms and can whistle like a canary.  You have a gift, my friend.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  I’ll buy a six-dollar sandwich from you any time.

the congregation of the United African Methodist Church of the blessed Father, Son, & Holy Ghost

Car #3 could barely contain your joy as you returned from a revival on Spiritual Victory in Texas.  God bless you.  Your three-piece suits, worn leather Bibles, perfectly placed hair, and glory hymns on the way home were like being transported back to the deep South of the 1960s in the best possible way.  Thank you for reminding me that it is still possible to travel in style.

God is amazingly diverse in His creation.

Now, I ask you:

Who would you have most liked to sit by?


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

12 responses to “characters

  • Tricia

    Texas… in June… I’m almost 100% positive that undies count as full sleepwear in that environment. 🙂

    What an interesting ride! I wonder if Laura Beth would like to fly with me and the kids from SLC to Austin next Monday? I’m officially freaking out… I hope our row is surrounded by people like her instead of cranky, childless businessmen who think kids have “off” buttons.

    • Kim Aguilar

      My friend is a pilot’s wife, and gave me the greatest idea for keeping the kiddos occupied on the plane…she said to wrap up treats/dollar store toys/etc. in gift wrap, and then the kids can take turns unwrapping their “presents” and playing with/eating their gifts. Works like a charm. 🙂

  • texasnorth

    I bet Laura Beth would LOVE to go with you. Ask her to bring her camera to take lifetime photos of the journey.

    Praying for you and your trip… you’re going to be JUST FINE. Promise.

  • Margie

    RICH. Love it. And Tricia’s right about the undies. My pick: Congregation. I want what they have.

  • Mandi

    I want to sit by Juan. I LOVE M&Ms and I can’t whistle AT ALL, so I like to live vicariously through those who can!

    Glad you had such an interesting trip!

  • Kim Aguilar

    Laura Beth and the congregation are a tie for me. I love when folks dress up to travel…and I love to hear those deep, soul voices. And thank God for the angels among us like Laura Beth.

  • Laura Beth Zollner

    Wow, I am so honored to be mentioned, and I love and miss you guys too! You really do have interesting travel experiences! Tricia, count me in! Oh, and I would choose to sit with Kate and Rylie.

  • Miss Laura

    David/Mike/Too Hungover and Girl Meeting Jason. Then, after sitting down, I would wonder (perhaps aloud) why I keep seeking out situations that make me feel like I’m at work.

  • Nancy Lee

    o my… sounds like you had a great trip…well except for “girl meeting jason”…put your cell phone away and enjoy the scenery…

    My secret for traveling with kids? Buy a cheap round retractable measuring tape at the dollar store… They love pulling the tape measure out and then pushing the button to retract it…and Ry could measure everything…even your patience!!

  • Renee

    I am sitting with the congregation. My kids would be arguing about something and I want to drown them out with heavenly praises and a grateful heart! Need to be in an opposite car from the cell phone girl or I might physically harm her. Can’t stand the rude behavior or the foul language. What a trip!

  • Jim

    Too many time on a plane next drunks/hangover and someone meeting someone I vote for Laura with in hearing of the Congregation.

  • Thya

    I once descended the stairs on my way to the the NY subway when I witnessed a beautiful sight as two college bound boys were moving their couch to the dorms…via public train under the city… Bright orange couch. Maneuvering, and shoving, and laughing, and shoving again. I’ve often wondered how people move from one place to another in a city where public transportation is how you get around. Now I know. You transfer your couch at 2:00am via subway. I wonder if a fridge fits on the subway.

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