Good Morning America, How Are You?

I’m writing from an Amtrak train, heading West out of Toledo. The sun is almost rising & you can see again. This is what I love about trains: you travel through places that you wouldn’t see from a car. We’re passing the back of farms by silos, fields, front porches that face the tracks, & abandoned trucks from 50 years ago. Busses pulling into school, kids on the playground, & small town Main Street. The quiet side of cemeteries. Power plants, manufacturing facilities, junk yards. More fields, green & tan and one with dozens of horses standing quietly facing away from the train-at least I think they were horses & not cows. Mostly white & skinny but too far away to be sure.
And those wonderful moments when we cross roads and see the vehicles lined up waiting behind the lowered gates & flashing lights. There are many of those on this stretch of track so the train whistle’s been singing constantly, sounding softly back here in coach.
Farther west you travel through canyons where no road goes, over & through mountains & along creeks. Not this trip. The stretch between Salt Lake City & Denver is among the most beautiful in the country, my father told me before the first time I took the train out West, & I agree.
There’s a small town somewhere in Indiana or Michigan, I think it might be, where the tracks run down the middle of Main Street.
Oh, I’m in the Midwest again–there’s a grain elevator.
I love the broad expanse of sky that you can see when the horizon’s flat. In Montana there are basically no trees and I think that’s why it’s called “Big Sky Country.” It really looks bigger. You can see the mountains from far away getting closer, starting as a small smudge on the horizon and growing all day.
And the old brick stations, abandoned now, little gems that their towns have sometimes turned into libraries or arts centers or shops. Other times they stand, paint peeling a little, clearly abandoned, but still there to remind us of the heyday of train travel in this country.
Sometimes you can still see an old