Discovering America

I recently returned from an extended trip around the country with my son Ben. We traveled a huge loop around the perimeter of the country, with the help of Amtrak's Railpass. Starting in Albany, we looped to Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, New Orleans, Washington DC, and then home again, after riding about 6,500 miles of train track in varying levels of comfort.

The day we headed out, packing light

Great art
 Great zoo
 Great aquarium
We stayed in a wonderful AirBnB
It's a beautiful city, and we explored and enjoyed it thoroughly
Then we were back on the train for about two days,
in a roomette, on the lovely run from Chicago to Seattle
 The Museum of Pop Culture was fantastic, this is Isaac Asmiov's typewriter
We explored all around the public market and piers 
 We visited the space needle, even closer than this picture indicates
 The harbor cruise was lots of fun, and the not-great weather kept the crowds down
Friends of ours took us on an underground exploration of Seattle beneath the streets
 Another, shorter leg, down the coast, to San Francisco
 We loved the aquarium
 A trip out to Alcatraz was both a fun boat ride,
and surprisingly one of our favorite excursions of the whole trip
Exploring the waterfront by e-scooter was a cool way to cover lots of ground
and see things we'd have otherwise missed. 
 We caught up with a friend of mine from grad-school who works at Google, and got a really cool tour
A harbor cruise that went out and under the Golden Gate Bridge was a highlight,
and well worth the sunburns we both got
 LA's aquarium was a fun surprise
 We loved out visit to the LaBrea Tar Pits, especially wandering around the park and finding spots where the tar is pushing up through the ground outside of the display areas and museum
We went to see the Chinese Theater 
 and were lucky enough to see a fun movie in the grand old moviehouse
 We had a late-night departure from the famous train station,
pushing on across the south to New Orleans
 We stopped in Houston long enough to grab lunch at their aquarium
 Our AirBnB in New Orleans was wonderful and located perfectly, along one of the streetcars, which we rode up and down to the French Quarter and the other things we saw and did in the Big Easy
 We took a river cruise, which was fun and gorgeous,
with a great band playing on one of the lower decks
In DC, in addition to seeing some museums and monuments and wandering the National Mall, we were able to connect with My Aunt Anne for a morning, which was great, after too long a time.

We made a point of planning ahead for the things we wanted to see and do and eat, trying to take full advantage of each 3-night layover in the major stops on our trip. I was able to do a bunch of reading and writing on the trains, and to a lesser extent during downtime we would build into our days in the cities we visited. I was mostly successful (I think) in balancing learning with fun for Ben. I don't have much more time with him in this way, this flavor of relationship, so I wanted to cram in as much as possible, staying just short of "TOO MUCH, DAD!"

It was a fantastic trip, a great time to spend with my son, and an interesting opportunity for both of us to broaden our perspectives on this wondrous and diverse country we're living in.

If you're interested in seeing more pics from the trip, you can follow this LINK to a photo album on FB, which has hundreds of my best pics from each stop.

It's given me lots to think, and write, about ... I just finished the second semester of my MFA program at Goddard, and I'm using the brief pause to circle back to Oasis, the fantasy novel that's been languishing on the backburner for nearly a year now. 

Thanks for stopping by! - JS