By Mona MacDonald Tippins
It is as though you travel the world in her shadow while Mona MacDonald Tippins captures the details in varied descriptions of train travel, scenery, people-watching, foods, smells, and even her heroics throughout these impressive journals. In her book – Tomorrow the Train: Journey to the World Record – you read about Mona’s visits through thirty-three countries by train with notebook and backpack. Her experiences are recorded in a profound compilation of documents about this dedicated writer’s true experiences. Be entertained in twenty-seven chapters of adventures – over 79,841 recorded miles – that will not soon be forgotten.
Mona sets out alone to break the Guinness World Record and proudly does so. She has the heart of a teenager in her sites as Mona waits to raise her family before embarking as an adult upon this ambitious adventure. Believing global travel is safe Tippins is surprised to find that it is often dangerous.
Mona Tippins miraculously survives encounters and threats as she awaits each train with undaunted patience and apprehension. She is robbed and beaten as thieves and muggers come out of the shadows to attack her. On one occasion, she looks on as a woman jumps off the train at her appointed destination. Mona watches her leap and the unexpected happens. The woman hits an embankment and rolls backwards toward the railroad tracks. Mona jumps heroically off her moving train from her safe position, grabs the woman, and saves her life. She then has to run to jump back onto the train. Incredible.
These acts that Mona Tippins records happen in the course of her lifelong dream. It’s been her ambition in life to break the Guinness World Travel Record by Train and the results are noted in her book Tomorrow the Train: Journey to the World Record. How proud she must be to proclaim this title for America.
Mona passes endurance tests that less dedicated travelers never could. Some days she misses meals because of her train schedules. Layovers are occasionally not in towns or she arrives in town at midnight when diners and clerks are unavailable. Foods on trains are unpalatable or non-existent.
Mona’s book records old bridges and castles she observes from her train windows and cross-references in her travel guides. She carefully maps the routes from one country to the next by recording train stations and asking conductors to oblige her with their signature of miles traveled. Her requests are not always acknowledged so that she actually traveled more miles than those stated of record.
In their tales of 18th Century historical travel, some of my favorite novelists and historians imagine their most daring of travelers to create fiction about feuds and religious wars. In comparison, read Mona MacDonald Tippins’ true adventures and experience her story as she takes you to countries you have never seen for the adventure of a lifetime.
Tomorrow the Train: Journey to the World Record. Available from all booksellers. Published by Infinity Publishing.com. ISBN 0-7414-0330-7.
[Review by Sharlet Liebel (c) 2010]