Different Trains

Recently I spotted a review of cross-country travel on Amtrak in the LA Times. I recommend checking it out, though it’s not at all my experience. The writer, Karl Zimmerman, took pretty much the most posh train trip he could, whereas I’m taking a lower-budget, lower-key trip, with my only on-train splurging for meals in the dining car. I am also reminded of conversations with friends and relatives who also have taken long train trips. Their experiences are rarely as extravagant as Zimmerman’s, but are usually more luxurious than mine: sleeping cabins and less hopping on and off the train. These are all different, legitimate ways to travel on Amtrak.

Everyone has different experiences when traveling, with some very similar experiences diverging widely in enjoyment, and some very different experiences matching each other closely in their success. I am excited to (finally) dig into the first of my travel books (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) now that I’m done with The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I am sure that Zen and On the Road when I get to it will change the way I think about my own travels, and I look forward to that more cultured perspective.

[The title of this post is a reference to a piece of music by Steve Reich. It’s about the difference between the experiences he had as a child traveling across the United States and the experiences of European Jews on the death trains of the Holocaust. You can listen to it, along with a nice accompanying video, here:]

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