Beauty and Beats on Coast Starlight, Cascades

Aaron Durand is more than a Twitter guru, he’s also a life-long rail fan who recently enjoyed both passions while traveling on our Coast Starlight and Cascades trains. In fact, while friend and fellow photographer Jessica Zollman captured still images on her iPhone, he created this brief but beautiful micro-music video.

“A natural byproduct of being a rail fan are tunnels, trestles, and bends. I loved watching us pass through, over and around them all,” he says. “For me, there are few things as pretty as light hitting rails.”

Photo by Aaron Durand

During his 18-, 3- and 24-hour journeys, he spent time walking throughout the train, grabbing a snack in the cafe car, snapping photos and meeting fellow travelers.

“I met a cage fighter from Alaska on his way to Klamath Falls for the winter,” Aaron says. “We met a charismatic gent at our dinner table on the way home who we wound up having the best time with. He was on his way to Mexico to watch dolphins. I swear.”

For first-time train travelers, Aaron recommends one simple essential: bring a friend. “Traveling with a buddy was probably my favorite part,” he says. “Also don’t forget about the kind people of Amtrak! All of the staff on the train were exceptionally kind and charismatic.”

Enjoy reading #AmtrakStories like this one? Share your own experiences with us for a chance to win prizes like free travel at For 31 days, we’re highlighting our favorite travel stories in honor of the 31.6 million passengers who helped Amtrak reach its highest ridership record ever.