I am currently sitting on a train that is not moving at the moment. We’re waiting for another train to pass by before we head into the next station. I won’t be getting off there though. I have another ten hours to go before my stop and I’m one hour in already. I’ll be on and off of this train, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, several times over the next three weeks as I tour a few places on the West Coast with my good friend.
A few months ago I was telling another friend about our travel plans which included a flight to Los Angeles and then this 11 hour train ride into the San Francisco area and she said, “Wait. Why don’t you just fly right into San Francisco?” “Because we want to take the train,” was my reply. Yes, we actually chose to be on this train for the whole entire first day of our trip. Why? To enjoy the journey. To see the coast, the land, the sights at a slower pace.
When I first thought about this, I thought about train travel as a better way to enjoy my surroundings while getting from one place to another as opposed to traveling by plane. But last night as we flew across the country, I found myself practically glued to the window and thoroughly enjoying my surroundings and the journey through the sky. I had brought a book, (Well, a few books, because that’s what I do) and several other ways to spend my time on the pane, but I couldn’t get through more than a page or two without the sky catching my eye again. I spent almost the entire flight gazing out the window.
To view the world from above is such an amazing thing to contemplate. I thought about being so high above the earth and then to see a river and think about the lowest point under that water. It reminded me of a section in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. In this children’s story by Kate DiCamillo, a china rabbit who believes he is real and loves to look at the stars, gets thrown overboard while traveling on the Queen Mary, and as he lies on the bottom of the sea, he thinks about how he has never been so far away from the stars he loves so much. It also reminded me of this comedy skit by Louis CK. (Watch it!) I wanted to get everyone to put their devices down, wake up, open up the window shades, and look out. It’s amazing out there! The innumerable shades of blue in the sky, the varied types of clouds looking like snowy landscapes, how the rays of the sun as we chased its setting across the country hit the clouds in front of us differently than those behind us, mountains below, and that part of the country where the land seems to be divided into perfect squares. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
I thought it would be fun to bring the blog back once again to record and share my thoughts and our experiences as we journey the coast. But now we have reached the point in today’s journey where we are rolling along the coast so close that if these windows were open, I think we might be able to feel the spray of the ocean. The train is stopping for a “fresh air” break soon so, I’m off to soak up the views and this part of the journey…