Save room on your schedule for Sat., Sept. 9, and join more than sixty authors and other vendors in downtown Beaver, Pa., for a celebration of reading and writing. Come out to this free event and bring the kids. There’s always a huge Children’s Tent with activities all day long. This year’s theme is Harry Potter—with wand-making and other fun stuff to do.
one to pick up the guinea pigs (and apparently guinea pigs do not appreciate being stuffed into a small plastic box and carted 50 miles in a car while “Weird Al” Yankovic music is blaring over the car speakers);
one to join my daughters on a house-hunting spree (which included one house where we were counting the bullet holes in the windows and matching up the trajectories of similar holes found in the dining room wall—just like an episode of CSI, yay!);
and one to attend a standing-room-only memorial service for the wife of my first RP pastor.
catch up on freelance work;
sort through 1,500 pictures and 20,000 words of notes from the trip;
do laundry (apparently people like to wear clean underwear around here—how rude);
go grocery shopping (apparently these same people appreciate eating several times per day—every day);
and stare at the waving fields of wheat in our backyard. Well, it’s just uncut grass, because the lawn mower Wayne ordered in early April still needs to be picked up in Calcutta—Ohio, not India (though, judging from how long it’s taking him to go get it, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not in India).
Thanks to all of you marvelous backers for a successful, fun Indiegogo campaign for Train of Thought! I couldn’t have done it without you! Well, technically, I could have, but it would have been a pointless waste of time to write up an entire campaign only to donate a thousand bucks to myself and then watch Indiegogo take a cut. I’ve done stupider things, but not lately.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I was thanking you lovable, wacky knuckleheads…
Thanks to you, now the credit card company will stop throwing panicky fits over that huge charge I made to Amtrak a few weeks ago.
I’ve already made quite a few notes for the book, and I haven’t even left yet. But of course, a strangely introspective trip like this is going to start in my head months ahead of time. That’s the beauty of our overthinking, introvert brains: we never stop asking, “What if?” We are the kings and queens of the Worst-Case Scenario.
The official trip starts in early May, around midnight here in Pittsburgh. Due to my husband’s work schedule at that time, he can’t drive me to the station. So I’ll start off with a cab ride to the train station downtown. And I’m already obsessing over whether the cab will show up on time. (Just ONE time I called a cab in the 1990s and it was late, and I’ll never let myself forget it.)
Once I acclimated to the idea of a cab, though, I realized I might as well start the trip off with an introvert’s worst nightmare: sitting alone late at night in a small vehicle with a stranger who will drop me off in a desolate part of the downtown area. Yay!
And of course it will be smooth sailing from there. Right? Because… what could go wrong?*
*rhetorical question, not meant for actual answers
P.S. If any of your friends (or enemies, I’m not picky) still want to get in on this sweet campaign deal at one of my many backer levels, the campaign will continue to run until the trip. Oh sure, anyone will be able to buy the book after it comes out in September, but only backers will get combo deals on my other books, plus exclusive, hand-wringing updates like this one (including some photos and maybe video!) during the actual trip. (If you didn’t feel special before, I bet you’re preening like crazy now.)
Feel free to share this link with anyone. I’m not proud. Plus, that credit card company is still hassling me about the other half of that large Amtrak transaction…
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I try to stop myself from typing in “Amtrak sleeper” in the Google Images search box. But it’s no use. I’m off on another daydream about what it will be like when I first step out of that cab a few months from now, at around 11 p.m., armed with nothing more than a backpack and a messenger bag, each full of things I’ve deemed essential for survival for the next fifteen days.
What will it be like to sit in the Amtrak station here in Pittsburgh in that last hour before I am no longer a train-virgin? How many other people will be there waiting with me? Will some of them be so used to this routine that they’ll be nodding off out of boredom? How will I not stick out like the newbie I am?
And what will it finally be like when I climb onto that first train, headed for Chicago overnight? I’ve chosen a simple coach seat for the first nine hours, despite those nine hours coming between midnight and 9 a.m. I wanted to save my money for roomette and bedroom upgrades later in the trip. Besides, I know I’ll be too keyed up that first night and won’t sleep anyway. Might as well sit in my roomy, comfortable coach seat (I finally found a benefit of being 5’1”), with this little laptop open, typing my eager thoughts about the train—the sights, the sounds, the smells (good grief, don’t let there be too many smells in coach, though!).
But today, more than three months before my trip, I open a browser and type in the word “Amtrak” and thousands of images start popping up. Many I’ve seen before, since I do this dumb sort of daydreaming at least once a week. Now that I’ve purchased the tickets and the trip is set, I suspect I’ll daydream my way through many lulls in my schedule in the ensuing weeks.
And I admit, sometimes I fall asleep at night trying to imagine what it will be like once I am cocooned in a tiny roomette, where I will wake up hundreds of miles from where I fell asleep.
Oh sure, I’ve done that on a plane. I’ve done that on a cruise ship. But soon, I will do this on my very first train trip—a dream of mine since childhood. What adventures await me? What misadventures? I’m ready for all of them.
Bring it on, Amtrak. I’m ready to see America.
Want to help a gal make her way across the country to write a book about it? You can get a copy of the book for only a coupla bucks by backing me on my journey! Go here: