The train arrived late and was a little seedier and a lot more desperate than I remembered. On board, an agitated dermatologist warned me that the sandals I was wearing would allow parasites from the soil to infest my body. Sandals are a young man's shoe, he said. By the time I hit 60, it will all be over. When I asked him how it would end, he looked around uncomfortably, muttered something and walked off.
Later, at some dark pre-dawn station, 2 loud parolees boarded the train talking about drugs and time- served, waking everyone up, and we were too sleepy and cowardly to shush them.
Then morning came and the daylight revealed our toy-like train was running along the edge of a vast blue lake ringed with snowy mountains. Birds of all kinds whirled above the water searching for fish, and watching them finally eased the remaining doubts I had about taking this trip.
Then, it snowed!