Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I’ve strayed away from my earlier intention of leading you through the process of writing my book. I have a tendency of doing that. So let’s get back on track.

My wife and I decided to take a train trip. The best bargain we could find was the North American Rail Pass. For one price we could spend thirty days on the train in both the United States and Canada. We could get on and off any time we liked, stay in one spot for as long as we liked, get back on the train at any station we were near, and continue on our way. We had to commit to travel exactly thirty days and in both countries.

I set up a thirty-day calendar on which I charted the places we wanted to stop and for how long. The single place and time we were firm on was Easter Sunday in New York City. Visits to hot spots and relatives were all scheduled around that time. Four days here, three days there, travel days in between, and soon the trip was all planned.

We were traveling eastward across the United States, from Sacramento through Chicago to New York City. Then we were going to Washington, D.C., back through NYC to Niagara Falls and Toronto, then west across Canada to Vancouver, B.C., south through Seattle and Portland and back to our home in Bakersfield, California. We were scheduled to return home exactly 30 days after leaving, and that’s the way it turned out.

We had scheduled a total of twelve stops to visit family and friends along the way. A jaunt to our local Amtrak station with the itinerary produced a stack of tickets along with the valuable North American Rail Pass that we were cautioned against losing, because another would have to purchased, no exceptions, should that happen.

Deciding what to take in the way of clothing and accessories was the most difficult job of all because we were traveling in early spring with uncertain weather. We knew it would be cold and rainy, possibly snowy, for most of the trip. We, of course, packed too much and we shipped home some fifty pounds of extra crap from New York City because we were tired of lugging it around.

I started a journal from the beginning, not really planning on writing a book, but with the idea of memorizing the trip for enjoyment later. I also wanted to have some record of my photographs because in the past I have frequently, on later review, forgotten why a certain picture was snapped―or where―or what of. It turned out that I didn’t tie my pictures to my journal on this trip either.

The next step was to determine where we had a place to flop along the way. When there were no family or friends to sponge from, we either had to make hotel reservations or upgrade our train tickets to include a bedroom. Once that was accomplished, we were ready to go.

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