Aboard Amtrak
October 3, 2014 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Aboard Amtrak A hauntingly beautiful description of one man's unintentional half year long Amtrak journey.
I’ve met so many, anarchists to Pentecostalists, Ivy League and Cherokee. I’ve found our diversity shocking. My fellow Americans can be incomprehensible. They say the indefensible. Do the indefensible. I think of that veteran, his struggle from party weekly to wounded gravely. And yet, he explicitly said he’d do it all again, the substance abuse, all the solo travel, the putting himself over a bomb for flag and country. I think that’s crazy. But I’m not him. I ain’t ever taken one step in his moccasins. We are a nation predicated on individual liberty and also a people wholly interconnected and interdependent. It’s crazy chaotic contradictory and increasingly I’ve found it beautiful.
posted by azazello (10 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this. I was going to say it needed an editor (too long, too many typos), but (from the About page) "My only editor was a cat!" so fair enough. Lots of great anecdotes, and you can skim ad libitum. Good post.
posted by languagehat at 7:41 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Chiming in to say thank you as well. I loved Amtrak as a kid - and this is a great piece i would have missed. Thanks azazello!
posted by anitanita at 7:43 AM on October 3, 2014

What an extraordinary read. The author has such a grasp of the sweep and flow of American history and uses it to great effect.

Why isn't the rest of the Internet like this?
posted by pjern at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2014

Free government cannot long endure if property is largely in a few hands and large masses of people are unable to earn homes, education, and support in old age… Shall the railroads govern the country, or shall the people govern the railroads? -- Ruford B Hayes, President of the United States, 1886
Sub in business for railroads and you've got the same truth 128 years later. Banks, Oil Companies, technology companies, prison companies, industrial, agricultural ....
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:32 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Half a year? That's about the length of a ride on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor train from NYC to DC on a slow day.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:10 AM on October 3, 2014

So then, he finally made it from Seattle to Oakland on the Coast Starlight.

Badah boom, badah bing.

(I'll show myself out...)
posted by humboldt32 at 9:33 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

He has a link below to his 'Amtrak Guide' which is a total treasure trove of information on the nuts and bolts of rambling like he did. Fantastic stuff!
posted by jnnla at 9:39 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

She looked like a hippie, talked like a hippie, and was using a metaphor about Indians and settlers working together to advocate for unfettered corporate resource extraction.

That's pretty impressive.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:22 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Very nice, thanks for posting. Traveling on Amtrak can be equal parts maddening and evocative, and he's captured that beautifully.
posted by Quietgal at 7:44 PM on October 3, 2014

I enjoyed reading that and seeing the pictures which were beautiful. But I just ached at the thought of all that time on the train. My knees and lower back would not tolerate it.
posted by Kangaroo at 12:57 PM on October 7, 2014

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