Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Benefits of Traveling by Train

The summer is quickly approaching, and with the summer comes family vacation time.  Many families will use the summer months to strengthen their family bond by participating in a host of family vacations. Some families plan all year so that they are able to make the most of the vacation time that they will spend together.  Many times these family trips are planned between the months of June and August, as this is when most school-aged children have their summer vacation.

One of the primary methods of travel is by car.  Many families choose to take road trips by automobile for several reasons.  Whether it is because of the cost effectiveness, the ability to stop as desired, or the ability to plan sightseeing stops along the way; traveling by car is one of the most popular forms of travel for families.

Another popular method of travel is by airplane.  Of course this form of travel has a huge advantage for those travelers who are ready to skip all of the hoopla and just reach their destination.  Traveling by airplane is very convenient, and most destinations can be reached in a matter of a few hours.

Traveling by passenger train is probably a method that most families don’t normally consider when they plan their family vacations.  Why don’t these families generally consider this mode of travel?  Perhaps it is because they think the price of traveling by train is expensive in comparison with traveling by car.  Perhaps these families feel that traveling by train will take too long.  Maybe the thought may cross their minds that the ride will be uncomfortable.  At any rate, traveling by train is something that should be considered by any traveler who wants to sit back, relax, and ENJOY their vacation.

Think about it… No worrying about driving the speed limit; no confusion about directions; no frustration searching for the cheapest gas station; and no anguish after eating from questionable gas stations or less than savory fast food restaurants along the way.

By choosing Amtrak, passengers have many options for comfort and enjoyment. Passengers can choose to ride in the Coach section, which is quite roomy.  The seats recline, and passengers have plenty of leg room for their comfort.  If Coach is not their thing, passengers can step it up a notch, and opt for a sleeper cabin.  In this cabin, one can lounge and relax during the day, and sleep peacefully in a bunk at night.  Either way, passengers have several options, and the choice is theirs.

Regardless of the option that is chosen, passengers have the ability to walk around freely while visiting the dining car or other passenger-friendly areas of the train.  They will not have the ability to stop at every little country town they pass.  Nor will they have the ability to stop every time they pass a billboard announcing an exciting phenomena, monument, or shopping mall.  However, if reaching the final destination in style is of importance, then traveling by Amtrak may be an option.

There are many options when it comes to travel.  Of course, reaching the final destination is important, but who wants to be tired by the time they reach the resort?  Who wants to be aggravated by their family before they even reach the Family Reunion?  Shouldn’t a vacation be peaceful from start to finish??  Just a little food for thought as you make preparations for your upcoming family trips.  This year, why not try something new?  Take a ride on Amtrak and see the beauty of America- without the usual fuss.

Take the opportunity to add Amtrak to your list of options.  Gourmet dining, sightseeing from your comfortable, reclining seat, and the ability to leave the driving to someone else should all be reasons to make traveling by train another option when it comes to planning your upcoming family vacation.

Getting There is Half the Fun

When I was younger, maybe around Middle School age, I remember taking a family trip to Washington, D.C.  This wasn’t just any trip….  this trip was on Amtrak.  There was a huge group of us including aunts, cousins, my mom and sister, and my grandmother.  One of my cousins even invited her friend to come along.  My family was always big on exposing us to things such as travel, culture, etc.  This particular trip was no different.

It’s amazing, because we still talk about this trip.  Just a few weeks ago, as we were discussing our mode of transportation for this year’s family reunion, we started sharing memories from this D.C. trip.  I remember staying up all night, laughing and talking with my cousins.  I remember the tiny, and not always clean bathroom.  I can still picture the coach seats where we all sat as a group.  The huge picture windows in the rail car were perfect windows to the world as we zoomed through small towns on the way to our destination.  I also remember reaching above a passenger’s head for a Red Velvet cake that we brought along with us.  Unfortunately for the male passenger, my aim wasn’t too great, and he ended up covered in Red Velvet cake.  As any teenager would do, we giggled to no end about the man’s unfortunate plight, while apologizing profusely.

The beauty of the trip, however, was the time spent with family and friends.  I remember touring the White House and various other monuments.  I remember the bond that we shared as we rode that train together as a family.  These are memories that can never be forgotten.  Even if individually we are unable to remember the trip in its entirety, when each person adds a piece to the puzzle, we are all able to recount the wonderful memories of that vacation so long ago.

As we plan for upcoming summer vacations, the importance shouldn’t merely be placed on the final destination.  Many times, some of the most memorable events happen en route, as we trudge along on our way to our final destination.  Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?  When we merely focus on the final destination, and place all of our time and energy into what will happen when we arrive, we oftentimes miss the beauty of the journey itself.

Upcoming Projects

SharingBo John’s Train” with the world has truly been a dream come true.  When I initially published this book, I didn’t expect the response that I have received.  I always figured that regardless of whether others purchased the book or not, I had fulfilled a personal goal, and I was truly satisfied with that.  HOWEVER, as people read the book, I continue to receive positive feedback, and I feel truly blessed that others read this story, enjoy it, and are able to relate to it.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, Trains, Children, Fathers, DaughterBo John was my father, and it had always been my desire to share his stories with the world.  Growing up with him around was pretty cool indeed.  There was always laughter, for he was a practical joker.  He loved to tell stories, and to this day, we still share those stories and laugh.  In conversations, various family members will quote some of his one-liners, and we laugh because we all remember the exact time and place when that particular statement was made.

At the moment I am focusing on marketing this book and getting the word out about “Bo John” and his trainOn Valentine’s Day, I will be speaking at a Black History Luncheon in Sanford, Florida; and a few days later, I will be greeting some of my readers at a Book Signing- also in Sanford.  I am very excited because I am a native of Sanford, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my book with the community in which I was raised.  In addition, many of these people actually knew my father.  So, it will be cool to share memories with his classmates and friends.

I have many plans for “Bo John’s Train”.  This book can be used as an aid to help children who are suffering from grief, and I intend to explore that further by using my book to help counsel children who are in the grieving process.  I am also planning to participate in various Book Expos in the Atlanta, Georgia area and beyond.  I will also continue reading to classrooms and library patrons.  It is my desire to see “Bo John’s Train” on library shelves, and this will be my next endeavor.  I have several other projects up my sleeve, but I’m not quite ready to speak on those just yet.  I am so overwhelmed by the excitement and responsibility that comes along with being a published author.  I feel such a deep sense of commitment to sharing the story of “Bo John’s Train” as well as other adventures my father had.  Please stay tuned as I continue to share Bo John’s legacy and make him proud.Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, father, trains, grief, children

Helping Children Overcome Grief & How Bo John’s Train Can Help

Tragedy can strike any one of us.  Facing grief and dealing with heartache is difficult for anyone.  Even adults who believe that they must be strong and feel that they have to hold everything together for the sake of their families must surely find it hard also.  It has been my experience that the individuals who seem as though they are holding it all together may need the most support in times of loss.  When are the warriors of the family able to have a time to grieve? Taking the time to fully grieve can only help the healing process.  Each person must grieve in his/her own way, and also in his/her own time.  But ultimately, one must be able to grieve in order to accept the loss and move on to the next phase.  This is never an easy task.  When a loved one departs, it is impossible to just forget about that person and move on.  We all deal with grief in different ways.  The most important thing is to deal with it.

This also holds true for children.  As adults, we must remember that children and precious and sensitive.  They cannot understand death so easily.  During a time of loss, it is up to adults to ensure that children are given special attention and consideration.  We simply cannot expect for them to understand everything that is going on.  Nor can we expect them to just go outside and play while the adults take care of the arrangements.  It is our duty as their caretakers and loved ones to ensure that these children who are affected by grief are made to understand that death is a natural occurrence.  Although we are never really prepared when death visits our family, there are ways to help children understand or at least cope with the emotions that come flooding in.  Being present to answer any questions that children may have is important.  Simply sitting down with children and listening to how they feel will make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Using puppets can also provide success in helping to understand death.  In addition, helping these children cope through the use of literature can also serve as a bridge to understanding how life/death affect us all.

“Bo John’s Train” can help children cope with grief.  Everyone loves a great book!  “Bo John’s Train” is an excellent story that can be used to help children cope with the grieving process.  In the story, Bo John is a beloved character who disappears for a while and this has a tremendous impact on the townspeople whose lives he has touchedQuestions arise as to Bo John’s whereabouts, and this is an excellent opportunity to ask children what they think may have happened to Bo John.  Although Bo John reappears in the story, he eventually leaves again, and the reader is left questioning where exactly Bo John has disappeared to, and when will he return.

Giving children an opportunity to answer open ended questions about Bo John’s whereabouts, allows them to cope with the loss they may be feeling in their own lives.  Grieving is never easy, but it is a process that we all must go through at some point in our lives.  If we have an outlet to help us along in that process, then perhaps we will reach some form of acceptance sooner.  The same is true for children.  WE must provide an outlet that allows for expression.  Through role play, literature, and self-expression we can help children overcome their grief and learn to cope with personal loss.