Day 14 of this Amtrak Residency. Greetings from Wisconsin Dells, WI, where I am now at mile 7013 of this voyage. You can read previous entries about the journey thus far on this same site, or at the Amtrak blog here.
Awoke in Fargo ND, after another strangely soothing night in the sleeper. It really is an odd way of sleeping– rocking back and forth, waking to roll over, but I can tell you I am addicted to it and sleeping in a bed that is not moving is going to be one of the things I will most miss. It’s kind of like “Magic Fingers” for the unconscious. For the first day I did NOT arise before sunrise, which perhaps just means we’re back in Central Time. Or perhaps it means I finished the draft of my novel, and did not feel the same urgency.
We rolled across Minnesota and Wisconsin today, the land more populous than the high plains of the day before. We travelled along the western banks of the Mississippi for much of the afternoon, which gave this east coast girl quite a thrill. I thought about Mark Twain. At sunset we crossed the river at La Crosse, WI. It was all very beautiful.
The views from the Empire Builder are decidedly more somber and meditative than the fireworks of the California Zephyr. I’d choose the Zephyr’s route from Denver to Sacramento for sheer jaw-dropping scenery. But the Empire Builder is good for working.
I received word this morning that the editor who read the piece I wrote the first draft of yesterday likes it a lot– great news, and rare for me: I almost never get it right the first time any more. Part of that piece concerns the adventures of the Amtrak Residency, so it’s funny to see a piece lined up for publication that addresses a thing that is still, in fact, happening.
Also spent many hours today writing and polishing up syllabi and agenda for spring courses at Barnard– my class on “Gendered Memoir,” and the “Advanced Studies in Prose.” I had the general sketch already done, but now I have the week-by-week road map of the courses, no small accomplishment, and kind of a great thing to do while the northern plains roll by, all dusted with snow.
I arrive in Chicago tonight. I am looking forward to a martini and a thick steak. Tomorrow a friend is taking me to a David Bowie show at a contemporary art museum, and I’ll eat deep dish pizza with another friend, before boarding the Lake Shore Limited tomorrow night for the final ride to the east coast. Boston by Sunday night.