Out west there is a train route for almost any journey. I needed to get from Seattle, Washington to Santa Fe, New Mexico and so over the coarse of seven days I took four trains 2,227 miles--from Douglas firs and wild Pacific Ocean into the heart of desert bordering the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It could have been done by plane in a day but I had some time to spare and could afford to absorb the transition from grey-blue skies to sun-soaked earth at an average speed of 40 mph.
The New Mexico landscape is the backdrop for Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), a novel that is full of long, grueling journeys by horseback, wagon and train. Towards the end of the book, the Navajo Eusabio mused to Father Latour: "Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things."