Fair   70.0F  |  Forecast »

When The Lonesome Whistle Blows

Ever thought of taking the train north? Our writer did, and has no plans to return to the unfriendly skies.

On the last stage of its overnight journey from Florida to Washington, D.C., Amtrak’s Silver Star thunders through the quiet Virginia countryside.

On the last stage of its overnight journey from Florida to Washington, D.C., Amtrak’s Silver Star thunders through the quiet Virginia countryside.

It’s not especially cheap at $753 – train fare plus a pair of earplugs – but a trip on Amtrak’s Silver Star from Winter Park, Fla., to Boston’s South Station certainly knocks pop culture sprawling. Bye, Britney! Bye, Paris!

Okay, I admit I did carry a Starbucks on board. But otherwise, when the northbound train rolled out of Winter Park, I bid farewell to TV, billboards, and the incivilities of air travel. Boarding the train instead of a plane, I wrenched myself as decisively out of the mainstream as 30 years ago when I gave up my car for a bicycle.

Of course I’ve driven cars since. Fifteen years ago I married a woman with three cars and I still drive one of her remaining two. But while cars have once more become my default choice for getting around, now I also rely on alternatives when I travel. I may ride an urban rubber-wheeled trolley, may prop my bike on a bus. Back in the ’80s, I led the campaign to get bikes on Miami’s Metrorail. In 2007 I proposed the idea of a ferry crossing between Fernandina Beach, Fla., and St. Mary’s, Ga., a link that I helped inaugurate 18 months later when the Cumberland Sound Ferry Service re-connected the pair of historic towns for the first time in 92 years.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2010 issue