Reconnecting on the Rail

Reconnecting on the Rail

Summer vacation: that magical time where the opportunity for adventure glimmers as brightly as the sun over the Pacific.

In a world where faster is better in nearly every aspect, I was looking for an experience to reset the clock of our lives; I wanted an opportunity to slow the pace and enjoy the journey. We had planned to travel from San Diego to New York, and although we could be there in a matter of hours by airplane, I was inspired by Derek Low’s cross country train trip. I enlisted the support and companionship of my sister and her children to join my boys and I on what was sure to be the experience of a lifetime.

Within a matter of weeks, our trip was booked: We would be taking a five-day cross-country trip on the Southwest Chief, leaving from Los Angles, stopping in Gallup, New Mexico and Naperville, Illinois, before arriving at our final destination in Albany, New York.

This train trip was exactly what I had hoped it would be–a great slow down, a chance to reconnect to one another as we disconnected from the world swirling around us. We were witness to the beauty of the ever-changing landscape of this great nation from inside the observation car of a long distance train. As we passed through those eight states, we were allowed time to have conversations and experiences that we otherwise would have never had. My sister and I spoke about things we needed and wanted to. We cried together and laughed together. We watched our children grow even closer together than they were prior to stepping onto the platform, and were awakened together after our first night on board by a sunrise over Arizona that was blindingly bright and more intensely colorful than any we had seen in our lives.

I remember one night as the children fell to sleep around us, feeling so small, thinking that we were in this capsule in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except to just be. I think I needed that. I think I needed that feeling more than I need the transportation itself. That feeling of such smallness in such a vast country with so much yet to be discovered.

About the Author: Corey Villicana is a photographer from outside San Diego. You can see more of her work on her website and on Instagram.