Amtrak & The NHL: The Great American Hockey Road Trip

So, crazy idea time… (and yes, Carly is coming with me, I simply couldn’t do this without her!)

I saw an article the other day where Amtrak has some kind of pilot program where they offer a “Writer’s Residency” which sort of translates to “you get to ride Amtrak anywhere they go and use the time to write a book.”

Awesome idea, right? I mean, who of you have actually ridden in a train? And if you have, was it just a commuter train, or did you take the long way around?

This got me thinking… I might be able to combine this into two most excellent, as my friends Bill & Ted would say,  lifelong dreams:

1. To travel the country via Amtrak and then write a non-fiction book about the history of trains in America and how they opened up the west, the boom and bust towns along the Amtrak lines, businesses that still rely on Amtrak passengers to survive, and the people who still ride the train (both vacation and commuter).

2. Specifically, to ride the Amtrak to all 30 cities that have an NHL hockey team (keep in mind, Canada will require riding VIA Rail, their version of Amtrak) and write a book about our experiences including: A short history of each city and their NHL team. Photos and interviews with fans, business owners affected by the team, and members of each team, including players, coaches, and executives.

Some of the things (besides money, we’ll get to that in a minute) that would make this trip-job a lot easier:

A. To coordinate with Amtrak (and VIA Rail in Canada) so they can help us plan out our trip, maximizing time at each location while also taking the most scenic routes, stopping at historical or otherwise interesting cities along the way. To help us connect with interesting or influential persons and businesses that have history with the train companies. I want to make this a story about how trains built America, how they’ve become ghosts to almost everyone outside of the Northeast, and how they still affect the lives of Americans (and Canadians!) around them.

Discounted or free (promo) tickets of course would free up a huge expense, but not necessary. The money saved would allow us to stay longer in each location, visit more locations along the way, and spend more time digging up history and interviewing persons of interest.

Bonus: I want to encourage EVERYONE to take a train trip once in their lives.

B. To coordinate with the NHL so we can purchase game tickets in each city (have them waiting for us at will-call to make things simple), help me get access to players/coaches/executives for interviews, and to point out some of the more interesting persons/businesses in each NHL city (such as lifelong fans, a hot dog vendor who has been there 25 years, things like that). I want to make this a human story, but a human story about our love of hockey.

As with Amtrak/VIA Rail, discounted or free tickets to the NHL games would also free up a huge expense, allowing us to visit more locations, spend more time in each city before moving on, interviewing more persons of interest.

So, I’ve decided to begin a Kickstarter project. To make all of this happen, I’ll need some kind of funding/backing. Since I don’t know anyone rich enough to fund such a book writing excursion, I’m going to attempt to get a Kickstarter fund of $50,000 to make this happen.

Sure, it’s a pipe dream and a long shot, but if I can make this happen, this will be possibly the most memorable time in our lives. The reason I am going to try and get a minimum of $50k for funding is that Carly will have to take a sabbatical from her job, which means we’ll need not only just enough to pay the normal, minimal (we are VERY frugal already) bills, but we’ll need to also purchase everything: train tickets, NHL game tickets, hotel rooms, food, rental cars, and a myriad of other expenses that come along with taking an extended trip.

$50,000 won’t cover everything, but it will cover all of the major expenses, and we’ll scrimp and save and hope to <favorite deity here> that I sell a lot of books between now and opening night of the 2014-2015 NHL season in October. If I can somehow convince Amtrak or VIA Rail or the NHL to help out, I can lower the Kickstarter fund goal significantly.

Once the Kickstarter project is live, I’ll link it. As my friends, I sincerely hope you will do me a huge favor and spread the word about this. The more eyes that see it, the better my chances of meeting the funding goals are reached, and that means I can write two books about this incredible journey that Carly and I will have had the chance to experience.