In a lonely shack by a railroad track / He spent his younger days / And I guess the sound of the outward-bound / Made him a slave to his wanderin’ ways.
– The Wayward Wind, Gogi Grant
Vernon-based author Rick Antonson credits his long-standing love of train travel to the popularity of the 1956 country song The Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant, coinciding with his first time riding the rails through the Rockies with his grandmother at just five years of age.
“That left an indelible impression,” he said of that experience which led him to travel by train in 36 different countries and write five travel books.
His latest, Train Beyond the Mountains, will debut at a book signing event in Salmon Arm at Bookingham Palace on Saturday, Nov. 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The book, which is his eighth overall, chronicles a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer with his 10-year-old grandson Riley, which essentially replicated his original train trip. The story of their journey, which took them through the Shuswap before heading into the mountains, provides continuity while peppered with tails from people they met on board.
“The best thing about train travel is the people you meet,” Antonson said.
“And one thing I’ve learned from doing book signings is everybody’s got a train story, and they’re not so much about where they went as who they met.”
He added the Rocky Mountaineer is particularly interesting as there are easily passengers from 15-20 different countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America and more. “That train, it’s like the United Nations on wheels,” he said. “I can vouch for that.”
His family has also embraced his love of train travel, with his numerous adventures including an onboard proposal to his now wife Janice in Alabama, and circumnavigating the Northern Hemisphere with his sons Brent and Sean that took them through countries such as Belarus, Mongolia and North Korea.
Most recently, he just returned from what was supposed to be a trip to Jordan and Israel, which was derailed by the current conflict there. He does, however, hope to satisfy the travel bug with a trip to Spain in the spring.
“Make it (travel)a priority,” Antonson said, adding a Buddhist quote he heard from a Japanese woman he met on one of the many train trips: “The mistake we make is, we think we have time.”
The author encourages everyone to come out to his book signing, learn more about the book and share their own train stories.