19 December 2018

My history with long train rides

I remembered last night that I've previously taken two long-form train trips, spanning states, provinces, countries, and days, that were some of the best journeys of my life—for completely different reasons.

In 2013, I joined Levi's on the brand's coast-to-coast #StationToStation adventure, where they commissioned an artist to curate a multi-city art-meets-music pop-up event series—with the entire crew, plus artists, musicians, and media, traveling between each city by train.


The Levi's team started in NYC, but I joined them in Santa Fe and rode all the way to Los Angeles. In between we stopped in Winslow, Arizona, where Ed Ruscha's brother made us omelets and Jackson Browne sang his Winslow, Arizona, song.

Then Barstow, where Levi's booked out a massive drive-in theater in the middle of the desert, I saw Beck perform for the first time (wow), and a massive faux-UFO blew in overhead lighting up the sky at the end of the night.
There was a lot more to the trip that I'm not remembering right now—catching Linda Perry at an open mic in Pioneertown, driving down Route 66, a crochet museum at Joshua Tree National Park, and wrapping up the week ensconced in a suite at Chateau Marmont. But it was epic. And epic is an understatement in this case. I'll never forget the feeling of crossing the Southwestern part of the U.S. on a train with a dozen famous musicians, everyone and everything kitted out by Levi's; and I was lucky to make some lifelong friends on that trip, as well.

Then, in 2016, after leaving WWD and before joining Food & Wine, I rode the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff—and, for me, this trip was less emotionally epic (I had fewer *feelings* on this train ride), but mind-broadening and visually stunning in a way that only a luxury glass-domed cross-country journey through the Canadian Rockies can be.
This was also the first time I was introduced to the Fairmont Hotels in Canada, and wow, Fairmonts in Canada, especially the tranformed railroad hotels the chain operates throughout the Rockies, are some of my favorite properties in the world—especially the haunted one in Banff.