The Long Train Trip


Today I picked up the USA Rail Passes for my family and myself. The short description, for those who have not clicked that link: With a pass, you get to travel for a set number of days to anywhere in the US. We have a 30-day pass, which means we get 12 “segments.” Get on the train, get off the train, that’s one segment. We get 12 of them to use in 30 days to go anywhere we like.

It’s my birthday present, delayed from last summer because I wan’t sure how much money we’d have after Uncle Same came around for his share of last years book sales.

Can I take a moment to say “Thank you,” to everyone who bought a copy of my books, and “Thank you very much” to everyone who helped spread the word? We wouldn’t be doing this without you.

Anyway, we have a set list of cities to visit, mainly to see family and friends. Denver, Chicago, Boston, NY, Philly, Washington DC, Miami, New Orleans. I think that’s the list.

Most of our time in these places will be catching up with old friends, hanging w/ family, or being tourists. I won’t be meeting online friends or readers on this trip, because there just won’t be time. We’ll be spending, like, a day in each of these places. Maybe two. Philly gets three because that’s where my family is and I haven’t seen any of them in a dozen years. My son was a toddler the last time we visited; now he’s a teenager.

Did I mention that this is a birthday present for me? We’re spending 30 days together, and if you add together all of the segments (none of which will be longer than 30 hours, I think, until the leg home) they come to about 10 days out of the 30.

That’s a lot of time to spend on trains. If we were flying, we would probably spend 4 days tops, including TSA checkins. We’d have more time in the cities, seeing folks, maybe even visiting a few bookstores. So why the trains?

Well, for me, the time spent on the train is the whole point. We’re together, without TVs, or internet. We can’t retreat to various bedrooms, have no chores to spend our time on. All we can do is hang out together, talking, playing card games, reading, or just being family.

As I mentioned above, my son is a teenager now. He turned 14 last winter, and he’s almost too old to go jaunting around the country with his dorky parents. Not quite too old, because we mostly get along pretty well, but he’s starting to suffer from the stormy teenage temperament, and he can be a bit of a pill.

Still, we have a good relationship. I’m pleased to be hanging with him, and I’m always pleased to spend time with my wife.

Plus, we’ll get to see the Rocky Mountains, travel through the southwest, and Florida, and the eastern seaboard, and we’ll visit the National Mall and Freedom Tower, eat po’ boys, walk on Boston Commons, snorkle, and who knows what else.

Maybe I’ll even get to finish this damn book.

Anyway, on Sunday I’ll be at ECCC signing books, and the following Wednesday I’ll be hopping the Coast Starlight for some intense family time. If I won’t get to see you on the trip, I’m sorry. Hopefully, I’ll sell a shit ton more books and we’ll get to do it again soon.