Making Amtrak Your Home


Wed, Oct 8th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Website designer Spencer McCormick has a wonderfully written travel guide on living on an Amtrak train. Moving trains, that is. More technical details about how to do this on his tips and tricks page. His writing is filled with memorable moments, here is one of my many favourites:

Come October, I was staying in a hostel in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. There I met a man who was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. He had a beard and a santa belly and basically introduced himself by saying, “When I was 22 back from Vietnam this trail saved my life.” Without prompt he would say things like, “Some might not say it, really we’re all Buddha.” He was gregarious and generous; when it came to other people, often he’d say, “You haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins.” I never told strangers who I was, but I told him who I was, homeless and living on Amtrak. He didn’t bat an eye, more like he’d do it too. He encouraged me to write what you’re now reading, but with caveats, that first I had to read Shakespeare and moreover I had to let people speak for themselves.

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.



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