Browning, MT – Prelude: Me and a group of 9 to 11 other SMU students led by Aimee Boggs are heading to Browning, Montana to help out at the De La Salle Blackfeet school which is a Lasallian school on the Blackfoot Reservation there.
Friday 2/23 “Browning Here We Come!”: I finally have everything packed and ready to go (or so I thought) and as it reaches 5:30, I get my things and head to the SOUL dinner where we had some food and one last hoorah before everyone departed for their trips. For my trip to Browning, Montana, we’d be leaving later that night from the train station. After dinner gets done we get out things and throw them into several vans and head to the train station. We get there, wait for our train, and then it arrives. We all pack our things onto the train and walk up the very thin and narrow staircase to our seats (still amazes me how other passengers brought up their luggage up to their seats). We all find our spots and get cozy for the long ride ahead of us. I brought a set of movies to watch on the train, so I watched one of them while others watched the remaining movies I brought along, and shared some midnight snacks, literally. After our midnight snack we all get cozy, or as cozy as you could on a train and fell asleep into the dark of night that was surrounding our train.
Saturday 2/24 “Another Freight Train?!”: I wake up around 7 am, even though I thought I’d be knocked out from my week from hell last week with the several papers and exams I had to take, but I suppose can catch up on my sleep when I’m dead. What made it worth it was the beauty of the sunrise, how you could feel the warmth of it even if you weren’t looking directly at it. We all wake up, and then had breakfast as a group together on the train, and honestly the train food was pretty good– so if you’re traveling and don’t want bad food, aka airline food, then I’d say travel by train if you can. Later on in the day, part of my group went down to a lounge area to play Apples to Apples and later a game that was basically like charades or Heads Up, which let me tell you, got quite intense at times. Throughout the day we had to make stops due to freight train traffic since they have the right-of-way before passenger trains. We had to stop several times throughout the day so the freights could get to their destination, which was fine up until later that night, when we were literally in Browning and had to wait around 45 minutes to get to our stop! We finally arrived to our destination after a 27 hour train ride and pack up, then huddle into the school bus waiting for us. Due to the weather and road conditions, we had to stay at the school the first night (and most likely the whole week). We arrived to the school, ate, and then figured out our sleeping arrangements, and we all passed out from the long day of traveling.
– Kyle Thompson