On the Train? Talk to People!

I enjoy almost everything about long-distance train travel. The whole experience is fun for me, and when things go wrong and it’s no longer fun, it’s still interesting. (Well, most of the time.)

In particular, I enjoy the traditional dining car experience because it’s a chance to sit for an hour three times a day chatting with total strangers. I have written quite a few of these columns with the inspiration coming from an interesting comment from a total stranger with whom I was sharing a meal in an Amtrak dining car.

Here’s a good “for instance”.

I was traveling with my brother-in-law, Peter, and it was just after noon on the second day aboard the westbound Southwest Chief . We had just been seated for lunch when we were joined by a very nice looking couple, probably in their middle-to-late 50s.

Early in the conversation, it turned out that the husband was a veteran captain with American Airlines. He and his wife were returning to their home near Los Angeles after completing a two-week trip that included three of Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

Peter asked what had prompted someone who could fly anywhere in the world for free to undertake an extended rail itinerary.

And the captain said, “I thought it was time to get a good look this country from an altitude of six feet.”

And at the time I remember thinking, that’s it! You see the mountains and the rivers and the farms and the cities and the suburbs . . . all of it right there . . . passing by right outside your window.

That’s why we travel by train.

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Just Released!

A New Book by

Fifty stories from life and 350,000 miles of train travel.

  • Across the U.S. and Canada by train.   
  • London to Paris at 187 mph.      

  • An unexpected performance of Cats in Mongolia.
  • Goose bumps on a warm night in Red Square.
  • Spotting wild camels in the Australian outback.
  • Finding real cowboys in Hungary.

Now available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.



This new book by Jim Loomis is a quick and easy read, full of interesting information about Hawaii that most people don’t know and are surprised to learn:

• There were actually two attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor during World War Two

• There were real cowboys working on ranches in Hawaii *before* there were cowboys in Texas.

• Outdoor advertising (billboards) has been illegal in Hawaii for 100 years.

$6.95 per copy6
6Order direct from the publisher, and use the code: FASCINATEME and the publisher will pay for the shipping.




All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide

Fifty stories drawn from 300,000 miles of train travel. The latest version of Jim Loomis's acclaimed All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide (4th Edition, 2015) is available in stores and online in both printed and electronic formats.
Chicago Review Press, 4th edition (Jan 2015)

Available in four formats:
Trade Paper, EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket (for Kindle)
ISBN 9781569761823

Learn more about the book or order it now directly from Chicago Review Press.


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