The romance of rail. Rhythmic clack, clack, clacking as the train rumbles over tracks in the midst of the landscape. Feeling every gust of cold air or heat on the platform but being removed from it on the train.

“The locomotive changed the face of America, both inside and out!”  Inquiry method. (p 37)

The destination and route are set, so the detours require more effort and more planning.

Though the agency is curtailed, there is a true traveler’s opportunity on a train – that of observation: of the landscape, of fellow passengers. There is a romance to the slowness of this movement through the landscape. It is a different view to be sure from the air: delightful, hopeful, somehow tragic in the midst of the mess of the side of people’s homes they don’t plan on the world seeing. It is to experience being a voyeur, to peer into the back yards, and gardens from the large picture windows of a train.

It is a great love affair: It is to be anonymous.

It is to be willing to be taken on a journey.

The Romance of Rail

Sometimes it is loud people having conversations you’d rather not hear, and children running unrestrained up and down the aisles, Bachelorettes wearing feather boas and drinking fruity alcoholic drinks, or loutish twenty-something men downing cans of beer on the way to or from sporting matches.  The romance of it remains even where the realities of strangers crashing into each on public transport demonstrate the deficiencies of humankind as much as its strength and beauty.

The cross-section of life presents itself in the carriage around you. Sometimes it is pleasant conversation next to interesting people going interesting places, other times it is downright uncomfortable and earplugs (and music turned all the way up) are your best friend.

But oh, the moments where the words flow easily onto the page and the sunsets are beautiful… When the houseboats bob up and down in the canals by the tracks, and the trains travel down tracks through fields and gorges and valleys. To look out across the western coast of Scotland towards the turquoise waters takes your breath away; to see the eastern coast line and cliffs and the bridge across the firth of forth through the haar is a sight unlike any other on earth.

Sometimes reality makes the romance all the more enjoyable in the act of anticipation and the awareness that whether the trip will be horrendous or thoroughly enjoyable feels almost arbitrary. The journey is the thing, as much as the destination.

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher. This Adventure around America is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan.




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