On the train home

The train brought us home to the Hudson Valley last night, after about 48 hours of travel from Denver. 
We booked a sleeper for the first leg of the trip, and went coach from Chicago to New York. The small sleeper gives you two bunks in a private chamber with a bathroom down the hall and a shower on the level below. You're free to walk around as the train is moving.

We loved waking up to the view of small towns in Iowa.

Views from the Amtrak Zephyr, James Gurney, casein, 1x2 inches each.
I tried to capture some of the landscapes as they sped past the window. The scenes were composites, constructed from fleeting impressions assembled in my short term memory.

View from the Amtrak Sleeper, watercolor and gouache, 5x8 inches.
The train is a fascinating way for an artist to see the country. The route goes right through the center of all the towns and cities. Some of the older towns have brick storefronts facing the tracks, from the days when railroads were the lifeblood of the town.

But now America turns its back to the train, so you get to see our country in its most unguarded, squalid, and at times glorious, moments: back yards, junkyards, abandoned factories, refineries, wind farms, and miles and miles of corn. The views are entirely different from what you can see from a car. I was glued to the window the whole time, except for the meals.

Passage in the sleeper includes meals in the dining car, seated with other passengers. Having a conversation with a stranger can be a surprisingly rare experience in modern American life, so it's a welcome benefit of train travel.
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