5,000 Miles by Train

July and August are traditional times for vacations and slowing down to recharge one’s batteries. This summer, my wife and I were able to join my father and a nephew on a 5,000 mile tour of the western United States that took us from our launch point in Chicago, to Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and finally back eastward to New Orleans, where my wife and I boarded a flight back to our home in New England. We enjoyed the signature Amtrak routes of the California Zephyr, the Coast Starlight, and the Sunset Limited as we trundled across the prairie, through the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, to the Pacific Coast, and back across the Great Southwest. Along the way, we made multi-day stops in Denver, San Francisco and New Orleans in order to absorb some of the life and culture of these great cities.

Amazing Diversity

As mentioned above, we live in New England, a compact and historical part of our country. When traveling out west, you are immediately struck by the incredible diversity of geography and people with which this nation is blessed. As we moved through this landscape, I found myself drawn to imagining the day-to-day lives of the people I encountered up close, or even those I viewed from the window of our roomette or the dining car. The scenes were too numerous to begin to describe.

About those batteries…

Was the trip a chance to tune out from work back home? Yes (to a degree anyway). Did I learn something that will benefit my work and clients going forward? Absolutely…that diversity and variety is evident everywhere (even at home), and that we as healthcare architects need to guard against assuming we know what the issues and solutions are before we dig deeply to ensure we understand the unique problems of each of our clients.

And of course, I was reminded again that we live in a vast and beautiful country.