Sunday, March 9, 2014

Of Trains, Writers and Riders

Most writers like trains. Is that generalizing too much?

But they do. Something about the rhythm of the train, its sounds -ranging from gentle to textile factory-loud-, the way it moves at its clack clack pace across the land, pulling up at stations, greeting the sunset, awing with sunrise. The way it seats us next to one passenger (sometimes two in certain commuter trains), giving us at least minimal leg room. The way one can slide into sleep if one is near a window. The quiet pull of dark skies and fields and trees softening and yet faintly intriguing the night, making one feel safely between worlds as one looks out and rides at night. The bathrooms that are roomy enough, more or less (as opposed to airplane bathrooms). Of course some of this changes if one takes a roomette, which I tend to find stultifying and claustrophobic-making. But that's me. (Then again, many writers also seem to be claustrophobic. Maybe it has to do with being robbed of our significance once too often as children, when we were creating worlds and were being told that they were impossible.)

Amtrak has created a residency for writers. One applies and if one wins, one gets to take a trip on an Amtrak train and write about it, courtesy of Amtrak. You better believe that I am applying.

In FatLand 3: To Live Fat and Free, a little railroad is created which takes tourists, both FatLanders and Other Siders, around all the significant sights and then some. It also helpfully links places like the new Embassy Row and the main downtown area.

It has blessedly roomy seats.

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