Amtrak County

I picked up Waiting on a Train by James McCommons earlier this month from the public library. Judging from the cover (something I should have learned in elementary school not to do) I wasn't expecting much. There was a little blurb from John Grogan, author of the popular autobiographical book turned movie, Marley and Me. And before I got to the meat of the book there was a forward by Jim Kunstler, a guy who, although I agree with most of what he has to say, really pisses me off.

I'm one of the 97% of Americans who has never been on an Amtrak train. It's not that I've never thought about it... it's just that every time I looked into it, compared to flying, Amtrak was either more expensive, less convenient, or both.

I'm not a train nut like many of the folks that McCommons encounters during his travels. Consequently, it turns out that there is a lot about the passenger rail system in this country that I was completely unaware of. McCommons's book is a surprisingly good resource.

The weird thing is, despite all the awful experiences McCommons has during his journey, from the 13-hour delays to the missed connections to the trains without food, I felt more inclined than ever to buy a ticket and ride Amtrak. Now I need to find a worthwhile trip and actually book it.


    You could go to NYC, DC, Pittsburgh, Boston or Chicago. Two of the lines go to Chicago.


    The best route in America is the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle or Portland, Oregon. My 20-something kids enjoyed the ride and scenery, so did I went I did it (ya gotta do the observation car with drinks at night).

    I think trains in either direction stop in Cleveland around 2 a.m., but it's still worth it.