Amtrak Resident: Grace Stevens
I had a plan. 7,238 was the plan. That was the number of long haul miles I would be traveling over 31 days across the USA.
I would begin in Boston, taking the Crescent down to New Orleans with a stopover in Atlanta. Then, on the Sunset Limited, to Los Angeles, with a stopover in San Antonio. I planned to hunker down in LA for a bit, before I jumped on the Coast Starlight for a day trip to San Francisco, a few days in Santa Cruz (and a full day presentation), and finally a long four-day voyage on the California Zephyr and Lake Shore Limited to return home.
The Bucket List
To borrow and paraphrase a bit from Dr. Seuss, Oh! The places I went, the people I met, and the things that I saw and did over 31 days has truly changed much of my perspective on life, traveling, and the country I have called home my entire life.
Although I did not have a specific writing project when I began, the seeds for one were planted along the journey. The plan was to fill many of my bucket list items, including Disneyland, and The Alamo, along with museums, beaches, bikes and baseball. I wondered if I would be doing any soul searching as to what the next phase of my life should be about, as I am shortly reaching my 70th birthday, and have already seemed to live many different lives. I was so pleasantly surprised that this trip was more soul cleansing than searching, as each day found me willing to move forward on unexpected adventures.
Filling the buckets along the way had me exploring the memories that had caused me to desire different items on my list at different times in my life. I am certain, at least as certain as I could be, that none of this exploration would have or could have happened by flying from place to place; rolling through all 7,238 miles has provided me a unique opportunity to visit the lands of my dreams and find them to also be real.
So many dreams have come true, so many memories from so many points in my life have new memories of realities to be joined with. Amtrak has gifted me with the dreams usually reserved only in fairy tales. I suspect that I am not the only person that might find dreams can come true when taking a cruise around the country on the rails.
About the Author: Grace Stevens is a writer and motivational speaker. You can read more about her Amtrak Residency on her blog.