I have started to tie up loose ends for my train trip. I leave on Tuesday morning. I am very much looking forward to having this time with myself, and with dear friends, several of whom are also relatives.
I've been away from full time work for three weeks, and that's almost enough time to open up my mind. The need to make lists and cross things off is still high --- how else would I get organized for the trip? -- but I've come to live calmly in the present, and to anticipate the opportunities each day offers. The trip is intended as a way to slow myself down and take a break. Hazlitt said "Travel is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases."
My final itinerary is pretty exciting. I board the Coast Starlight train to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning and arrive on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, I board the Southwest Chief for Santa Fe, arriving Friday afternoon. I'll be in Santa Fe for a weekend think tank session. I leave on Monday afternoon for Austin, where I'll spend three days with old friends from Rochester. Then on Friday morning, to Chapel Hill, to spend the weekend with Lauren. I'll leave on The Carolinian for Princeton on Monday morning, to spend most of the week with my sister. I have several meetings in New York on Friday, before I leave on The Pennsylvanian to spend three days with James in Pittsburgh. Then on to Washington DC, for several meetings and then time with Clarissa, whom I've known since graduate school. She'll put me back on the Capitol Limited on Friday for Chicago. I have a brief layover on Saturday before I board the Empire Builder, which brings me back to Seattle on May 18th.
I include the names of the trains because I love trains and their special place in our history. I've reserved "roomettes" for overnight travel, but expect to spend a fair amount of time in the sightseer lounges looking at the land we'll travel over and meeting new friends. Through a cooperative effort with the National Park Service, volunteer rangers provide narratives on selected routes -- I'll hear the first of these on my way to LA, when rangers join us from the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Ride between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
I have both my new tiny laptop and my iPhone, which I have mostly mastered, thanks to a remarkable book called iPhone: The Missing Manual by David Progue of the New York Times. I have my book manuscript begun in 2006 to finally finish at its full length. It's a mix of photographs I shot and text I wrote about renovating our home. I'll post to this blog, as well as tweet, using both the iPhone and the netbook.
I know I'll have a great time.