07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trains, all the way!

Hi everyone!
I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline says it all - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. This month I'm talking about travel.

And I happen to be a train girl, all the way. I look at a train-ride is time to write in peace and private. And to catch a load of scenery, setting and new personalities on the way.

I drive when I have to. Admittedly, "have to" sometimes equals the half-mile to the grocery store, but only because I come back laden with bags. I've driven as far away as Kentucky (I live in Illinois) and back, of course, but I hated it. I don't have a GPS, or a Smartphone, I'm still into paper maps and Mapquest. I even have the hero in my WIP stare helplessly at the GPS in his girlfriends car because he's been lost in the wilds of a third-world country for a decade and has no idea what to do with that thing. Believe it or not I am in the middle of teaching a class and telling my students to take themselves OUT of the character, but as I wrote that passage Kyle Logan from The Last Logan (coming fall 2014) was me. There are parts of technology I love and probably couldn't do without, and parts that make me feel like a latter-day Luddite. Especially if it's related to a car.

Planes are the only things worse on my hate-list. It's not about the shoe removal or body scan, the long lines and high cost of food since the planes no longer feed you.  Something about leaving the security of terra firma just gnaws at me. Do not even get started on earthquakes, OK? I do it when I have to, and I'm going to have to in October when I speak in Ohio at the OELMA (Ohio Educational Library Media Association) conference. I don't mind landing, I don't even mind turbulence, much. But leaving the ground -- terrifying. I sit in my seat and pretend nonchalance, book in hand, my mind repeating the 23rd Psalm alternating with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, I pray the Lord... One of my worst and never-to-be forgotten vacations involved six plane takeoffs and landings. It was supposed to be an Alaska cruise, but the boat was disabled and instead of refunding our money the travel company shlepped us around the state via small aircraft. There's nothing like boarding a tiny plane with one other passenger and a slew of mail and knowing that's all that's usually on board.

Never happening again.

If I have to go somewhere, and a train is a possibility, I'm on it.  CTA train, Metra, or Amtrak. Especially Amtrak where I can go first class all the way. In many ways it's like a cruise without the waves or the shore excursions.

Me and my hotel travel across the country together. As a sleeper passenger I get a quiet pre-boarding area away from the madding crowd with coffee, cokes and snacks. And I never have to take off my shoes. Once on the train I have a private room that includes a view, sofabed and shower. And more coffee and juice. And meals: appetizer, entree and desert. It's a community dining setup, real social networking. I've met some of the nicest (and some not so nice) people dining on trains.

Next year I'm going to Dallas, Texas via Amtrak for the Romance Slam Jam conference. Everyone else will fill the airport, I'll be cozy on my rolling hotel room  I know  could do it in a few hours by plane, plus the trip to the airport. And the time spent going through security.  In a too-tiny seat. But I'll consider the trip an extension on my vacation/conference. I'll get a ton of writing done.

Yeah, I like my plan better.


Judith Ashley said...

Hi BA, you make traveling by train sound really, really good - just came home yesterday on one of the planes with a too-tiny seat - at least mine was, however the thin youth sitting next to me didn't seem to have a problem *smile*.

I've traveled by train before and enjoyed it. May want to try it again but not for a while because there are places I like to go to that do not have train service - and some don't have plane service which leaves me behind the wheel of my car listening to CD's from various writing conferences I've attended.

Sarah Raplee said...

Okay, you've convinced me our next vacation should be by train! Never done it, but that sleeper room sure looks good!

I'm lucky in that, since my dad was a commercial pilot, I never had a fear of flying. That's gotta be a hard one to deal with when you have to travel by plane. Kudos to you for doing it anywat. That takes guts, lady!

Pippa Jay said...

As someone who does all the driving in my family, I really appreciate the chance to be driven by someone else, be it train, car, bus...anything? I get to actually take in the surroundings more and lose a lot of the stress. But I adore planes! I don't get to fly enough and would love an excuse to fly again. My husband, however, is like you - he doesn't want to fly at all.