THANK YOU going out to LOTS of people

A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE OUR TRIP POSSIBLE and all the people who made it happy and enjoyable and worthwhile during our miles-and-miles (and MILES) long journey.

We met people . . . oh, we met people.

On the train with us:

* Cliff (and his wife), from Richardson, believe it or not, on the way back from doing some construction work on the retirement home/farm they’ve bought in Maryland.

* Terry from Canada, on her way down to Shreveport, LA, to visit her youngest son, who is about to take final exams at college. She says her city, Windsor (edit: not Victoria!! That was a different British royalty allusion), abuts Detroit and the two share everything . . . hip-deep snow, for one. I told her Shreveport is the armpit of Louisiana and that she should PLEASE try to excursion out to Baton Rouge or other pretty towns while she’s there. Her other son is also living in Louisiana, but is working at a prison down south as a guard on the really hard row. I said there must be a story behind how her sons got all the way down there from Canada, and she said there is. (She didn’t try to tell it that time–GRIN.) She had to get off in Longview, TX, and take a bus to the Shreveport airport to get a rent car. We said that was crazy–that it would be a thirty-min drive from Texarkana (where we were making a stop) and that Enterprise would rent her a car right there. But she’d already paid the $110 fee for her bus arrangements. I hope she finds this weblog and posts about her trip in the comments!

And so many others who’ll end up mentioned in the trip report.


* My fellow contestants, all but one of whom had come a long way just like us. Two other couples took the train! I thought we would all get to know each other a lot better, but it was not to be. Time was too short, and everything was tightly programmed so the contest would come off as a triumph (which it did.) I hope that some of them find their ways to this journal so we can reconnect.

Another video of the contest from the New York Daily News website. A video in which I feature prominently behind Alton as he’s talking about his victory . . . I’m doing a little Jerry Lewis/Sammy Davis jig beside the piano, apparently yammering away to some other reporter. *sheesh*

* The crew of Amtrak’s Texas Eagle and Lake Shore Limited, especially the car attendants and ESPECIALLY the dining car staff. Elaine Whitaker on the Texas Eagle in the dining car was fantastic, and so were the chefs on both trains! Oh, and the guys driving the train . . . y’all done good. Those choo-choos can haul a**. We went 101 MPH (top speed) on some of the long stretches of good track between towns. And let me tell ya, there’s a lot of “between” out there. I never saw so much nothin’ in my life. Our route took us from Dallas to Chicago through Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois, and then from Chicago to New York City through the scenic Adirondacks area and Buffalo and lots of places that were knee-deep in snowdrifts. I actually got to see the USA (though not in my Chevrolet).

“She was blue and silver/She was right on time/We rode the Texas Eagle on the MoPac line.”–Steve Earle, “Texas Eagle”

I can now say I stepped out of the train in Texarkana (TX and AR, though that wasn’t the first time–we went there years ago), Marshall (TX), Saint Louis (MO), Chicago (and had a layover there, mostly spent at their grand Union Station because of the snow and time limits), Buffalo, and NYC. That’s pretty good coverage for a kid who spent her life in Texas.

* MOST OF ALL–the organizers and planners of this awe-inspiring contest, both at 3M/Scotch but mostly at Hunter Public Relations: Melissa, Lisa, Elizabeth, Jason, Helen from 3M in St. Paul, and many others. I can’t wait to see the B-roll of the video that was shot and all the promos that others did on their local TV stations!

I gave many people a copy of my business card–not really a biz card but more of a hello card, a VistaPrint caprice telling my name and pen name and my e-mail addy and the address of this weblog so they can visit to read my trip report and/or look for my novels sometime. (grin) I hope they do get in touch, as I would love to add to the trip report and talk with them about the outcomes of their travels!

I know this is a late thank-you post for a trip that spanned Dec 1 to Dec 10, but this is the first time I’ve really been able to sit down and post. Our Internet connection was down the day we got home and was intermittent for the past couple of days, and when I’ve been away from home, it was really tough to get connected. Anyway, better late than never. Now I have to get my written thank-you notes done. And my Christmas cards! This year, we might actually have something to write in a Christmas letter.

That is, if I wudn’t too exhausted to type it. To put it in my character Vergie’s words (from _Starla’s Version_, my Southern gothic novel), I feel like I’ve been pulled through a knothole backwards (into a different world), been rode hard and put up wet (while traveling at top speeds and on the run), and then got “ate by a wolf and sh*t over a cliff” to get back. Whew! But it was worth doing. Everyone should have the experience once in a lifetime.

Next time, we’re renting an RV and going to Carmel/Big Sur just to sit and watch the water. That should renew our energy instead of totally draining it. But don’t expect that to be any time too soon. . . .

And what are YOU getting for Christmas?


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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