The day my Americorps service ended I boarded a train for my next destination.
There are at least 1,110 miles of track between Santa Barbara, California and Seattle, Washington.
I had taken the same train (Coast Starlight) several times before, but never so far.
West coast by train, 2010
Soon I’ll do it again, heading the other way, deeper south to the reckless Orange Country. My “home” is an interesting place. I’ve lived all over it, rarely in the same house for longer than a couple years. Irvine is where I return. It’s a city privately owned by the Irvine Company, who filled the place something like 800 public pools.
Southern California is hot and humid, when it rains, it pours. Seattle rain is calm and the days are variable.
In a few weeks, I will begin a journey from the northwest to the southwest of the United States. I will move by train, automobile and airplane. A marvel of human ability such travel displays. The Oregon Trail was nearly the same distance and took early pioneers six months to travel. No threat of cannibalism on my trip though.
Anyhow, back to trains. More trains!
Traaaaaains have been a big part of my life. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time by rail, also went to Chicago and back again. In the Czech Republic, I was able to reach Barcelona, Krakow (Poland) and Interlaken (Switzerland). When I lived in Santa Barbara the trains delivered my friends to me. Now they will take me home once more.
The ride gives you time to think, to reflect on the distance you’re covering, to marvel in it. Those experiences form some of my fondest memories; they are thick and contemplative. I have three days of train travel ahead of me. The transition will be slow, it has to be.
I will miss Seattle, desperately. Most of all the summers and violently unique culture, but I will return again one day. I will come back to the rain forest, but I cannot know when. The future is best untold, we’re mostly disappointed when we try to force it.
Play with Amtrak’s interactive route atlas here