I have reached that time when my next rail adventure is not far ahead and I am filled with a heady mixture of schoolboy train excitement combined with mild nervousness of the unknown. Before bringing you up to date on the trip, I feel I must first apologise for not posting much on my blog lately. I have been studying hard on the world of book publishing, whilst trying to simultaneously move house (and country). I’m pleased to report that I have now accomplished both, and I am now a happy author living in West Sussex, a part of England that I grew up in (a long time ago).
So, let me tell you a bit about my forthcoming journey. I am planning to travel coast to coast across the United States by train, from New York City to San Francisco. I felt there was a bit of a gap in my train experience, having always headed east – so this time I’m doing something very different. Whilst it’s by no means a challenging journey in the hardship sense, I’m hopeful it will be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
The outline of the route that I am taking is as follows –
Amtrak – RE141, New York (Penn) to Washington DC
Amtrak – the “Capitol Limited”, Washington DC to Chicago
Amtrak – the “California Zephyr”, Chicago to Denver
Amtrak – CZ5, Denver to Grand Junction
Durango & Silverton Railroad
Grand Canyon Railway
Amtrak – the “Southwest Chief”, Flagstaff to Los Angeles
Amtrak – CS14, Los Angeles to Oakland (San Francisco)
A lot of people look at me with raised eyebrows when I mention the word “Amtrak” (especially Americans), and I have much to learn of both the story of the railroad and the reality of train travel in the U.S. today. Did you see how I used an American word there? Don’t panic though, I’m still pronouncing aluminium with a “u”!
I’m pretty much packed and ready to go. If you have read my blog in the past you will know that I have made a few pretty serious luggage mistakes. This time I’m playing it safe and following the Amtrak rules – the sort of rules that don’t exist in Russia or China. My bag must not be bigger in total dimensions than 75 inches, and with a maximum weight of 50 lbs (that’s 190 centimetres and 23 kilos if you happen to be a European). With this in mind I have left behind the kitchen sink, the minibar and most of my Siberian essentials. I have gone for my trusty Samsonite Spinner for a variety of reasons, mainly as it will travel much of the journey checked into the baggage car (that’s a luggage van!).
I hear that Amtrak trains can be cold, so its the reverse of my normal rail experience – hot inside and cold outside. The sleeper trains have restaurant cars, and meals are included, so I have no need to carry an extensive larder with me either. In my kit for this trip I have some new toys, including a new Fujifilm X-T20 camera that shoots 4k video and film at 28 MP. It’s the one with the XF 18-55mm lens. To go with this I also have a new Macbook, not a Pro, but the thinnest 12 inch notebook that I have ever seen. More like a metal table mat!
For those not familiar with the title of this post, it is a homage to one of the most underrated films of 1988. “Midnight Run” stars Robert De Niro in a comedy role. He plays a bail bondsman tasked with bringing accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin) back from New York to Los Angeles. The Duke doesn’t like to fly, so there is lots of train action. It’s a cult classic and well worth a watch if you can get your hands on a copy. It also has a great soundtrack.
I think that’s it for now. I hope you will choose follow my new adventure, and also that you that you like the new look website – I decided it needed to change to better reflect what I’m all about these days. Please do let me know what you think.