Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
The romance of the rails is about as long-standing a cliche as you can find, but in these days of mass moonings and fare hikes, Amtrak's lost a little of its luster. There are encouraging signs of a turnaround, however, and travel writer Catherine Watson decided to give train travel a go. Onboard she found more than just train buffs and scenic vistas: travel instead of mere transportation. I vividly remember when a trip on an airplane felt like an event — my sister and I had "airplane dresses," because air travel was an occasion to dress up for. And sometimes when I take the Metro to the end of the line, I squint my eyes on the above-ground portions of the trip and pretend I'm traveling, not commuting. Watson truly traveled, from Minnesota to New Mexico, by way of three lines, the Empire Builder, the City of New Orleans, and the Sunset Limited. She didn't get to New Mexico quickly — or inexpensively — but she arrived at her destination having fully enjoyed the ride. When was the last time you could say that?