Friday, March 22, 2019

It’s bigger out here

The other day I shared the opinion of a woman who went from the desert to Los Angeles to feel invigorated. Today I’m sharing the thoughts of a city dweller traveling across the country by train.
Scale on a rail trip is what’s most arresting. We live so much of our lives close-up — scrolling through phones, watching our type appear on computer screens, scrutinizing papers, preparing meals, cleaning our homes room by room. Very few elements of our day-to-day tasks remain out of arms’ reach. An extended train ride affords a chance not just to see a horizon but also to soak it up. To luxuriate in the far-off for uninterrupted hours. To exist, briefly, in the uncharted sections of the cellphone-coverage map. 
And it feels as if you’re getting away with something — seeing more than you deserve. The best part of the trip wasn’t spying on the backyards of houses; it was out here, in the open. The bright hues of the nation’s choropleth population-density maps fade to white in these areas, yet many of the most beautiful habitable parts of the United States, no offense to Boston, are contained within those colorless expanses. Amtrak takes advantage of this circumstance. It is fortunate that its routes were laid during a period of industrious optimism, when everyone assumed the West would soon be made as unbearable as the East; if they had known it would remain beautiful, it would have been difficult to justify the financial investment. 
Caity Weaver
The New York Times
The Great Wide Open. The complete opposite of Manhattan. An expanded perspective. Actually seeing the sky and the land and realizing you’re part of it. These are some of the reasons I love the West. And it’s why I return to the open spaces after I recharge in the cities.

Amtrak used to have a slogan that encouraged us to travel at “see level.” As a full time van dweller, I try to travel at “be level.”


  1. Trains are wonderful. I just wish it was easier for me to sleep in my seat. Sleeper cars cost too much for my budget.

    1. One time I rode from Los Angeles to Flagstaff. Everyone said the motion of the train would rock me to sleep. It didn't. It kept shaking me awake.

  2. Via rail across Canada is half price after October 15th. Get a window seat
    in be level.