While crossing the Great Plains this past winter on Amtrak’s Empire Builder, on my way from hometown Portland back to Wisconsin, as I sunk into the time-suspending pace of railroad travel and screaming snowstorms lashed the prairies, a fleeting thought surfaced – how feasible is it to travel the North American continent by anything other than an airplane or car?
Apparently the thought stuck, because that seed has germinated into a full-fledged desire to do just that. For this Portlander uprooted to the Midwest, where choosing to forsake a drivers license and use alternate means of transportation is seen as borderline crazy, the challenge is just too delicious to shelve. So suddenly I find myself pouring over maps, train routes, and national parks to see what and where is actually possible to reach by train, bus, bike, or foot.
So begins the 2015 project of mine to travel the Americas without using an airplane or car, using public transit whenever possible. The only pieces set in stone this early in the planning are the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver and Glacier National Park and the required visit home to Portland. Other ideas are percolating – crossing the vastness of Canada by train, with stops in mountain towns like Jasper, and attempting to visit as many US and Canadian national parks as possible.
This is a huge project, overwhelming in scope, but the last time I was this excited for something, I was backpacking from sheep farm to sheep farm in Greenland. If I can accomplish that, I can definitely face this challenge.
More details to come….