I am now traveling across America. Last night I took an evening train from Pittsburgh to Chicago, Illinois. I slept though the entire trip for the simple fact that I have been on that leg of the train countless times before. I know what the terrain of Ohio and Indiana feels like, but after spending the morning in the great town of Chicago I have boarded a train that will take me to Sacramento, California. First off, I have no reason to write this. This story has been told so many times, it would seem completely foolish to spout it once more. Is my journey unique from the millions who have traveled from the east to the west before me? No, and in reality it is probably quite a bit more frivolous than most. I could have easily afforded a flight, but I decided to take the train across this grand continent. I have two days to write this trip down, and in doing so maybe I can learn something.
At the present I have a seat mate, whom I am not formally introduced to. She has already taken the seat by the window in an effort to sleep. I am hoping that I can get my own seat, by the time the evening comes. I do not want to have to sleep sitting straight up for the next two days. She seems very nice. She slightly reminds me of Sarah Lukens, enormously nice but unique in her own account. I have retreated to the Lounge car, where I can look out the huge windows at the country side all around us. It is miles and miles of gently rolling country side. It is not hilly per se, but not nearly as flat as Paulding. We pass through a lot of rural towns, full of houses with paint peeling off of them, scrap metal yards, and lawns decorated with only the most tacky components of lower middle class life.
INTERRUPT: Song of choice right now Satan is my motorcar by Cake!
I have now seen the mighty Mississippi. That grand barrier that truly divides the east from the west. I had to ask what the river was when we went over it, my head had the idea that it was a enormous black hole that swallowed people whole. Like the waters that are calmed in the beginning of the book of Genesis (I guess Mississippi is not the root of Xtianity.) It reminds me of the Auglaize from back home. I was far more impressed by the small creek we passed. You could see how bended through one of the small islands of trees, that pepper the Iowa landscape. There was one section of trees that no longer existed that allowed me to see the creek. You could just imagine children and adults setting along the side of it to cool off in the summer, and how I am sure a life or two has been lost as someone got far too near the invading track I spotted the site from.
It was very quaint something, very Fried Green Tomatoish. The landscape has not altered itself much in a while, we seem to be leaving the flatlands that the glaciers left us, as I have noticed the rolling effect the open spaces has, has increased 10 fold. As the train continues, I see the America that I have grown up with. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to travel across and not see a identifier of industrial revolution. No Roads, no power lines, no houses, no cell phone towers. These are all part of my landscape, and I cannot imagine a world with out them.
INTERRUPT: California by Rufus Wainright, just came on. How wonderfully appropriate that is. Oh Rufus, how I adore thee. I?ll post a link a bit later for all of you to download this song.
On my Birthday I awoke to one of the prettiest sites I have ever seen, the sun rising over the plains of Nebraska. It was absolutely gorgeous, the sun was the deepest orange one ca imagine, like the mid orange between the peel and the meat of a blood orange. It was phenomenal, and it was accented with wisps of the most gorgeous reds and lavenders. The entire seen was set in the sleepiness, of a grey prairie day. There was something extremely humble and ravishing about the entire moment. I was not even able to get my camera out of my bag to try to capture the scene. I was far too entranced in all of it, maybe it is never meant to be captured in a picture. My seatmate lent the opinion, that there was no way film could do it justice, because even if it could capture all the colors it could never capture that sleepy state it was all experienced in. I have never seen anything like it.
From Nebraska we traveled to Colorado. What I first thought were titanic mountains were merely the foothills to the Rocky Mountains. We traveled up and through them, seeing gorgeous canyons and steep rocky cliffs, and beautiful mountain meadows. There was one meadow that was so distinctive. It was covered with the brightest orange flowers that I you could think of. It was a spot, set high on a rocky plateau in the midst of an ocean of deep green woodland.
The mountains were all capped with snow, and a few of them I could not spy the summit, due to the extremely thick fog that lingered from the summer sun. There are quaint and beautiful communities that dot the landscape. We stopped in a small one named Granby. It was smaller than Paulding, but surrounded with one of the most beautiful views. I think dad would really love this trip.
My seatmate?s name is Alice-Mary. She is left wing woman from Ireland; I find her very entertaining and great conversation. We had a long discussion about the war last evening, and this morning she woke me for that beautiful sunrise. She surprised me with a Danish and a scrawled birthday card on the back of a post card. It was so sweet, and made me really happy. We spent lunch together and she just retired to the cabin for a nap.
When we finally left the opulent Rocky Mountains we entered into eastern Utah. This a dry and arid part of the country with shear mesas, almost no vegetation, and far fewer communities than we saw through Colorado. We made a stop at Grand Junction here Alice-Mary and I left the train, because there was an open fruit market where we bought strawberries and the like. We returned to the train for a rousing game of travel of scrabble and the film Legally Blond. It was painful to watch such thing. While we were watching the film we passed through a portion of Utah with pylons of rock rising out of the earth. It was really quite fascinating to see them.
My last day on the train was slow one at best. It was desert land, but not like I have seen the day before. There was beauty in the desert traveling Utah and Nevada, but the desert I saw in central and western Nevada carried very little beauty. It was dull in colors and spotted with the most grotesque shrubbery. It was not until the train entered the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I began to appreciate the landscape once again. Alice and I traded phone numbers in effort for us to reconnect in the next few weeks. I think we are going to try travel to Los Angeles together. We both agreed that it is probably a vile and horrendous place, but we would partake in the sojourn for adventure reasons.
I finally arrived in Sacramento two hours late. I shared a cab with a family, and arrived at 925 H St. It is a mansion. I have never been to a hostel anywhere close to being as opulent as this one. I am sitting in the dining room as I enter this last entry. It is designed in pre-Victorian style.
A cute guy, who checked me in, first met me at the desk. He seems very nice and well-mannered. We have shared stories over a few cigarettes. He is a music major who has taken a leave of absence from Sacramento State. I overheard him playing a Back prelude on the piano. It was so nice.
I ventured out with a gentleman from New Zealand, to and English pub. He is a farmer, with a training in the stock market. He is taken a 24-month holiday to travel across the United States and Europe. I had dinner in a nice deli, and returned to the hostel to chat with people on the porch. There is a very interesting gentleman by the name of Rob. He is retired doctor from South Dakota. I believe he is native America by his general looks, and the enormous amount of knowledge he has concerning the subject. He discussed Native American history, philosophy and politics.
I am the last one awake in the hostel. Everyone has retired to their beds for the evening. I sit here drinking a mug of brandy and cream. This has been a very exciting week of traveling. I have met a lot of great people, and I think how easily I become attached to each and every one of them. These are people I want to surround myself with for my entire life, not the stuffy academics that I am in training to become.
It has been a great journey, hopefully the next ten weeks will be just a grand.