Two Altoona institutions were perfect companions for me last week - the Mirror and Amtrak.
The Mirror and train travel have been part of Altoona's tapestry for more than a century.
With Penn State in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament in New York, I hopped the 10 a.m. to New York's Penn Station and walked upstairs to Madison Square Garden to cover the game.
That the Nittany Lions beat Baylor to win the first national basketball championship - NIT or NCAA - in their history only added to the day.
If you haven't taken the train to New York, it's worth it. I especially recommend the business-class option, which is more comfortable.
You're near the club car, have power for your computer (though there's no wireless yet), and the restroom isn't far.
A train ride, like a plane trip, is a peaceful journey, bringing plenty of time for reflection.
Most know that newspapers, like many businesses, find themselves in a struggle unlike any they've experienced in their existence.
Some have folded. Some have gone to online products only. Many have shaved jobs. Others, like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just the other day, have eliminated daily regional availability.
We think and hope that smaller papers such as the Mirror will be better able to withstand the industry changes because we provide a more in-depth local service that readers can't get anywhere else.
Which brings me to the train trip.
The pace of life has steadily increased over the years to the point where some working parents find themselves saying, "I don't have time to read the paper."
I say: That's too bad.
And maybe it takes a trip on the train to reinforce that.
As I rolled through Pennsylvania's back yards and farmlands, in and out of Huntingdon and Lewistown, Harrisburg, Paoli and Philadelphia and ultimately arriving (backwards for the last 70 minutes, by the way), I was able to fully digest our Thursday paper.
I seriously read it for more than an hour.
From the drug bust in Portage to the retirement of Bedford's President Judge Daniel Howsare, to the upbeat story of a nonprofit group organizing Easter gifts, to Roger Corey landing at WRTA, to the daily editorial and letters to the editor, to the sad, sad obituary of Brent and Christina Gerwert's newborn, to the latest from Curve spring training, to a page of recreation league champions, there surely was something for everybody.
Then I pulled out a couple of sections from Tuesday's People & Progress edition that lasted me well into the 717 area code.
The point is the newspaper remains one America's great values, and with respect to altoonamirror.com, it's nice to hold it in your hands.
Spring is finally upon us, a time when we love to be outside, a time when we can take our coffee or cereal to the back porch and enjoy the paper as one of life's simple pleasures.
It's enhanced and appreciated even more by a train ride.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.