To Travel Is To Learn

Scott Walker

Zach Zablosky went to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston after graduating from high school. He plays guitar and he plays guitar well. However, he told me, “I just could never find a fit – you know? I just couldn’t make it work. I was unsatisfied.”

After quitting a heroin habit and dropping out of Berklee, he hit the road. He headed to California in hopes of starting a band. There, he made new friends and went to his first Rainbow Gathering.

A Rainbow Gathering is a community of people who meet in different forest annually celebrating peace, love and harmony. The gatherings last anywhere from one week to multiple weeks. In describing it he said, “We built our own stoves with rocks, everything is free.”

After his Rainbow Gathering in the Golden State he saw the Grateful Dead in concert and then ventured to New Orleans followed by Florida. From Florida he met a new friend who taught him about the rail lines.

From Jacksonville to Pensacola he traveled by train, which was over 350 miles. Zablosky didn’t travel in a stylish passenger car or even a boxcar, but instead a gondola. A gondola is an open air train car that hauls scrap metal.

From Florida he traveled to Austin, Texas by way of train hopping. He then caught a ride with a friend in a real vehicle, eventually finding his way to Louisville. After a short time in Kentucky, he went back to the East where he made his way to his home state of Pennsylvania. He visited with his parents for a spell before heading to Vermont to spend a summer. But, one summer did not slow the 32 year old down.

I asked if he ever had bad experiences while traveling on the trains and he said, “No, but I have met some people that were some less savory characters.”

After a brief hiatus he hitched back to the west where he rode in a train car along the famous Route 66. “I rode that on Thanksgiving,” he told me. After sleeping through the night on a train he ended up in a small town where he met a man who invited him to a Thanksgiving meal at a small church. In describing the church he said, “One of the Hippie churches around, you know, a biker church or whatnot.”

He had a homemade warm meal and then jumped back on a train and traveled to Los Angeles. After spending time there, he again decided to head south, which is where I met him and his dog. He was drinking coffee on a sunny, but cool February morning in Birmingham, Alabama.

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ― Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)