Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sooner instead of later when All Aboard will be released. The latest word is October, probably the third weekend of the month which is the normal PAX release date! Wow, just about seven weeks. I'm already excited.

I have never ridden on Amtrak but I did do some train travel while I was in college at Flagstaff, Arizona when Arizona State College-Flagstaff had just become Northern Arizona University. There were about three trips on the San Francisco Chief to Stockton where relatives residing in Sacramento and suburban towns came to pick my up for holidays and  a couple probably on the Chief or El Capitan to San Bernadino where I was met by a friend who lived at the time in the Elsinore/Perris area. I loved it! Not too many years later I flew for the first time, after I had gone to my first real job at Fort Huachuca, Arizona but the rails still held most of my travel-heart. Maybe I can manage an Amtrak trip on of these days.

Here is a color ad type photo of one of those old "War Bonnet" diesels and a B&W shot taken by me in Flagstaff at about that time. In mine there was a puddle--either  snow melt or summer rain--between the tracks throwing up a reflection.

I've also had the thrill of riding at least two tourist scenic excursion trips--the steam powered train that runs from Durango to Silverton, Colorado and back and the train out of Clarkdale, Arizona that I feature in Last Train to Clarkdale. The latter was a special treat, for like Clay in my story, my brother and I were both avid train watchers and very  much taken with the historic route up through the Verde River Canyon to connect with the main line of the Santa Fe.

In his great book Canyon Lands and Super Chiefs, railroad historian Joe McMillan gives a vivid picture of the Santa Fe routes through Arizona to include the Clarkdale District. The book is liberally illustrated and I use it and the others in his series on the Santa Fe for a lot of research plus just enjoying the atmosphere and memories the books evoke. Most of my middle childhood and youth is interwoven with train memories. The Santa Fe was "my" railroad and I still miss it. The modern successor BNSF just does not have the mystique! Thus you can almost bet there will be more train stories from the pens of Deirdre and Gwynn in the future.

It's going to take a lot of research and work but I am going to write a story about the Harvey girls to focus on one fictitious member of that legendary group. It will be a novel but I'll weave as much authentic detail and historical fact into it as I can. But meanwhile, you'll soon be able to read Last Train to Clarkdale. Yes, the title is a shameless play on the Monkees' song--which I also recall with a vague, slightly guilty fondness! (giggle)--more memories. I perhaps should have dedicated the story also to the memory of Davy Jones--RIP, anyway. You gave us in the hippie era some fun songs!

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