I want to take you with me on a cross country trip.
I have been enamored of rail travel ever since my first Amtrak journey to Baltimore as a child of eight years old. I was a young history buff who knew only of the heyday of passenger rail in books. That summer trip to visit family created in me a desire to take the rails wherever and whenever I could.
When I graduated from college, I finally fulfilled that childhood dream - a celebration trip to New York and I have frequented Amtrak since then.
I have been on short jaunts to nearby Winter Park in my home state of Florida. I have taken a four-day journey to Los Angeles from Jacksonville aboard the Sunset Limited.
What has tied together my various ramblings on the rails, whether it be summering in Maine or conventioneering in Kansas City, I most enjoyed using social media to share my impressions of this vast country.
It gives me a sense of joy to know that I have friends and relatives who tell me that they live vicariously through my postings on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the like. This means a lot to me as I hope to make my trips as enjoyable for others as they are for me - albeit virtually. This, I suppose, is one of the benefits of being a teacher. My summers are a chance to relax and be an artist of sorts, with my craft being an Amtrak artist (so to speak). With a Klout score that hovers around 70, I am in the top ten percent of Internet 'influencers.' I am hoping to be a positive influence :-)
Having been to three corners of the nation via train, I have wanted to visit the Northwest. My grandmother tells tales of taking the Great Northern railroad as a child. I would like to experience that this upcoming summer. And this is where I bring you with me. I originally applied for an Amtrak residency that was established for writers who wanted to hone their railroad writing. I did not receive such an opportunity, but I wanted to create an opportunity for myself.
My aim is to document every step of my trip from Jacksonville, Florida to Seattle and back via Amtrak's Empire Builder. I might even venture into Vancouver if the time is right. My goal is to raise $3,000 to cover my transportation and lodging along the way.
UPDATE: I am working on my proposed itinerary for my trip and here are my plans: With my bags, camera, tablet and smart phone packed, I depart the Jacksonville Amtrak station on the evening of June 29. I arrive in Washington, D.C. the next morning and spend the day enjoying the nation's capital until I leave in the afternoon for Chicago. I hope to return to Florida House before I leave D.C! The next morning, it's Chicago and a museum or a skyscraper (I still call it the Sears Tower - LOL) and then on the train for Seattle after lunch. The next stretch of the trip will be two days venturing into parts of the nation that I only dreamed of seeing. This is where I think that my best work will be - on the old frontier aboard the Empire Builder.
When I arrive in Seattle, my aim is to stay in a hostel and partake in a very happy Fourth of July. Thankfully, I am not tethered to finite rolls of film and will be giddy with sharing and oversharing this epic experience. I will stay in the Evergreen State until I depart Seattle on July 5 at 1:40PM. The return trip will consist of getting into Chicago on July 7th, arriving in Washington on July 8 and back to Jax on July 9. The return trip? Mostly afterglow :-)
Please donate to my GoFundMe account here. Thank you! I promise that you will be glad that you invested in my journey!