Wednesday, April 9, 2014

James M. Jackson's Travels

I'd like to welcome Jim Jackson to my travels today, telling about HIS recent travels. Jim and I share a publisher and have shared our manuscripts for many years, so I'm happy to give him space to tell you what's happening with him. Be sure and check the links at the end of this post! Now, here's Jim:

To promote the April 8th publication of CABIN FEVER, I signed up for Left Coast Crime (LCC) this year. Since we are currently without pets and Jan and I have enjoyed train travel, we decided LCC was a great excuse for a train trip. 

If you don’t care about our itinerary, skip the next two paragraphs.

Briefly, our trip included six trains; we took sleepers the whole way. The first stage was overnight from Savannah to Washington, DC, arriving early in the morning. We walked all over the city and returned to Union Station in time to catch a late afternoon train to Chicago, which again arrived in the morning. Since we’d rather be outside than in, even with cool temperatures and a brisk wind, we walked down to Lake Michigan and back before catching a mid-afternoon train from Chicago through the Rockies. Two plus days later brought us to Emeryville, CA (outside San Francisco). We rented a car and drove to Monterey for LCC. After the conference we took a day afterwards for hiking in Yosemite before returning to Emeryville to start the second half of our trip.

From Emeryville we took a daylong train to Los Angeles, stayed overnight in LA and spent the following day walking around the LA Zoo. That night we boarded our train to New Orleans, which arrived two nights later. After a whole day enjoying New Orleans, we caught our last train of the trip the following morning and got off in Birmingham, where we rented a car and drove home to Savannah.

The total trip lasted fifteen days, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. One aspect of train trips I appreciate is that they take me through the back yards of these United States. Some backyards can be depressing: filled with trash, generations of rusting autos, graffiti-tagged corrugated fences, backs of derelict buildings. I remember on trips decades ago seeing vast piles of tires. Those disappeared once we understood their recycling value; perhaps we’ll find ways to recycle the rest of the junk we throw away.

Other aspects of America’s backyard are awesome (I stole that word back from my grandchildren). Some great naturalist (i.e. I can’t remember who or the exact quote) said that the only way to explore a place sufficiently well to know it, is to travel by foot. To really understand a particular locale, he’s probably correct, but to obtain an overview, trains are great. You sit higher up than when driving and don’t have to worry about traffic and such. The plains are vast, the mountains soar, the valleys burst with flowered fruit trees.

With all those beauties, where did my heart beat fastest? Watching a mountain creek or river work its way down a narrow valley. Seeing ducks or swans swimming undisturbed in a remote lake. And above all, watching a deciduous woods slip past my window bathed in the slanted daylight of the hours just after dawn or before dusk.

JAMES M JACKSON authors the Seamus McCree mysteries, BAD POLICY (2013) and CABIN FEVER (April 2014). BAD POLICY won the Evan Marshall Fiction Makeover Contest whose criteria were the freshness and commerciality of the story and quality of the writing. Known as James Montgomery Jackson on his tax return and to his mother whenever she was really mad at him, Jim splits his time between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan woods and Georgia’s low country. He has also published an acclaimed book on contract bridge, ONE TRICK AT A TIME: How to start winning at bridge (Master Point Press 2012).

His website is Jim has updated purchase links to online sellers at


  1. Wow, Jim. I knew you'd taken the train but didn't ever ask you about all the side trips. What a wonderful exploration! I might have to do it myself one of these years. Did you have a half-month unlimited pass, or just pay for each trip?

  2. Edith -- we stayed in sleeper compartments the entire trip, which kills the unlimited pass deal.

    ~ Jim

  3. I love to travel by train. Have taken sleepers. Smuggled a cat to Boston on a sleeper) Lady, your luggage is crying."
    Best day ever, taking the train to DC to have lunch with Kaye.

  4. Sorry, I didn't mean to be anonymous. I'm KB

  5. I figured that out, KB.

    I haven't taken a train in many years, but do love them. Thanks for the trip, Jim!

  6. What great photos, Jim! How fun to travel by train around the country. Wishing you every success with Cabin Fever.

  7. Ah, I think I need to plan a train trip this year.