These days I again call Vermont home, but I still travel pretty frequently to the place I called home for the last 12 years to visit my daughter, visit clients, take care of other business, or just to visit friends. I've taken to train travel for these trips, and though hardly as glamorous as old movies featuring steam engines make it look, I rather like it.
There's wi-fi, of course, but there is also a landscape floating by outside to meditate on, reasonably comfy seats to nap in, books to read, and people to meet.
The train to Vermont is never very full. Not like the train I used to take into New York City. It lends itself well to romantic nostalgia for imagined times past, and to thought generally.
“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do." ~Alain De Bottom, The Art of Travel
I became curious if there had been authors particularly moved by train travel. After a bit of searching, I came upon Paul Theroux, the travel writer, who wrote four books about traveling by train. His most famous being The Great Railway Bazaar. According to all the references it is now hailed as a modern classic in travel literature. According to reviews, people either love or hate Paul Theroux's writing. Those who hate him call out his bitterness and misanthropy. Those who love him reference his exhaustive and well-crafted descriptions.
“But: all journeys were return journeys. The farther one traveled, the nakeder one got, until, towards the end, ceasing to be animated by any scene, one was most oneself, a man in a bed surrounded by empty bottles. The man who says, "I've got a wife and kids" is far from home; at home he speaks of Japan. But he does not know - how could he? - that the scenes changing in the train window from Victoria Station to Tokyo Central are nothing compared to the change in himself; and travel writing, which cannot but be droll at the outset, moves from journalism to fiction, arriving promptly as the Kodama Echo at autobiography. From there any further travel makes a beeline to confession, the embarrassed monologue in a deserted bazaar. The anonymous hotel room in a strange city...” ~Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar
Your challenge this week, dear Velveteers, is to craft 100 words from the prompt: