The Train Ride Into Myself
Scenic Rail Journeys Are a Panorama of Life- by Christopher Reilly
She and I stood on the deserted platform of the train station, alone
except for the stone building with its single turret stretching toward
the sky like a pointed finger. For 115 years the old building had bore
witness as passengers arrived and departed, a million stories of human
lives coming together or moving apart, ten million tears of joy and ten
million of sorrow, and now two newly-broken hearts.
We both knew this was the end of us. There was no weeping or histrionics, just a lone tear
forging a rivulet down her beautiful face, diverting around the tiny scar on her upper lip even
as a river diverts around a shiny pebble. I nervously looked down the tracks for the train that
seemed like it would never come, and secretly hoped it wouldn't.
But it did appear, arriving at the station with a screech and the massive sigh of air brakes.
We embraced awkwardly and I boarded the rail car, observing her as she disappeared into the
distance. Off to school and a new, exciting life, suddenly older than my nineteen years. I felt
both the excitement and the fear. The twisted heart and the swell of hope. The end of one
affair and the beginning of another.
My life stretched before me like a track across the landscape of human history. I had never
been on a train before and I did a great deal of meditating. Observing the American
landscape fueled my introspection, There were golden plains and open prairies where one
could almost feel the American Indians hunting buffalo, and there were industrial areas
where smokestacks grew, fertilized with soot and grime. The world was passing by my window,
good or bad, it was what it was and offered no apologies.
And then there were the passengers. Was that a student on their way to college as I was?
Were those doting grandparents off to spoil their grandkids? 115 years later, the stories of life
still played out on the rails. Never before had I looked so deeply at others or into myself.
I made a promise that I would make another journey by rail, just for the joy of it, and that is
how I found myself searching scenic train journeys last week. What surprised me was the
large number of railway tours available. They came in every shape and size – from a few
hours to two weeks – andthey were virtually in every part of the country. Many of the
lengthier journeys included overnight stays in major cities with first-class hotel
accommodations and rental cars, or shorter events with a dinner theater
murder mystery or wine tasting.
For the even more adventurous, there were scenic rail journeys in Canada, Alaska, Europe,
and even Japan. I haven't decided where I'm going, only that I'm going. Do a little Internet
search and you might be going too. At least you'll be dreaming, and maybe a chapter of your
life will soon play out on the scenic railways of America.
A great rail journey starts with discovering your options. These links will
provide you with an extremely wide variety of possibilities for your romance
on the rails. All aboard.
Vacationsbyrail.com: A huge provider of escorted and independent train tours in the U.S., Mexico,
Peru, Canada, Europe, and China. www.vacationsbyrail.com
Great Smokey Mountains: Offering a variety of scenic excursions through the Great Smokey
Mountains of western North Carolina www.carolinaoutfitters.com/train-tours.htm
Rail Travel Center Tours: Specializing in scenic train tours in America, Canada. Mexico and
Europe. We design, and operate unique, fully-escorted rail tours to some of the world's most scenic
Great Train Escapes: Featuring some of the most scenic train trips in the world.
Geoff's Trains: Luxury train travel and heritage steam train tours to Wales, England, Scotland,
Zimbabwe, South Africa, and China. www.geoffs-trains.com
Alaska Railroad Tours: Rail tours on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage, Denali National Park,
Fairbanks, Seward, and Whittier. www.railserve.com/jump/jump.cgi?ID=20103