They capture our imagination.
where we can go,
what we can do, and most importantly whom we can meet and what we can see.
Amtrak is putting together a program for writers. The idea is for people to write their way across America. Hats off to Amtrak!
Is there any greater experience than seeing a country by rail?
Some of my best (and strangest) memories were formed on trains.
My notebook from my time seeing Europe by rail is filled with notes, poems, and memories of the people and places I encountered. There was the stinky-feet-man in Hungary (he insisted on taking off both his shoes and socks!), the train robbery in the south of Italy (no, I am not kidding), the surreal fairy-tale view of the Alps in Switzerland - a place only a train or hiker could go, and the endless exchange of books, stories, and addresses.
My advice? If you ever get the chance to travel by rail, take it.
So, here's your exercise for your notebook:
If Amtrak offered you a ticket to cross the country, where would you stop and why?
What might you see?
Remember: poets like Sandburg, Whitman, and Frost gathered their experiences through travel; the slow kind of travel that comes by rail or by foot.
Let your imagination run.