Transcending America’s Pacific coastline aboard Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.
At the end of last year I stated that I’d only be taking one long-haul trip this year, one that would take in Austin, San Francisco and Canada. Between then and March, my itinerary changed so that I could visit my brother in Brazil (and indulge in a bit of utopian architecture on the way) but it was a tough decision. Ever since visiting Montreal in 2007, I’ve long wanted to see more of Canada.
Luckily, I was later invited to my friends Dan & Liz’s wedding taking place in San Francisco in November. This presented the opportunity to make another overseas trip, one that could take in Canada and the An Event Apart conference happening in Washington, D.C. the week before:
- 20 October: Depart London Heathrow
- 21-25 October: Washington, D.C.
- 26 October: Ottawa, Ontario
- 27-29 October: Toronto, Ontario
- 30-31 October: Saltspring Island, British Columbia
- 1-2 November: Vancouver, British Columbia
- 3 November: Coast Starlight
- 4-6 November: San Francisco, California
- 7 November: Arrive London Heathrow
Obviously, this contradicted my desire to cut down the air miles. By my failed logic, if I’m travelling such a long way, I should cram in as much as possible for that distance to have been worth flying — even if doing so would result in further flights. Thankfully parts of this itinerary were joined together by rail, which remains my favourite means of travel.
Still, I end the year with a tinge of guilt, and answerable to the valid accusation of hypocrisy. Having tried so diligently last year to reduce the amount of flying I do, I hoped to keep this year’s long-haul flights to one. With an important part of my family now settled in São Paulo, and some of my best friends based in North America, maybe such lofty goals are foolhardy.
On this, I discovered an interesting quote by Samuel Johnson:
Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.
I lack no courage to undertake a journey; I do however lack the courage of my convictions.
In the front seat of a float plane, I enjoyed a breathtaking view of Vancouver as I descended into its harbour. For such a densely populated city, I’d arrived somewhere small and friendly.
After eight days exploring North America, it was time to visit its more westerly extremities, starting with Saltspring Island.