Hello from Sunny California! As some of you know, I posted lots of photos of our cross-country train trip on Twitter . . . but I know not everyone is on Twitter, so I thought I’d do a little recap here for those of you who missed it. I’m posting from our hotel room in Seal Beach, California, starting with MUSICA and a question:
Let’s do both at the same time! You will need sustenance for this post! I’m not kidding. I would suggest you make a pot! I’ve been working on this post off and on, between visits with my family, early in the morning, getting the photos together, this is my third day . . . and here we go!
So this was me (and Joe), in our train “room with the view” crossing the country the pretty way, from Boston to Los Angeles, “Twittering from the Twain,” a very human, feet on the ground type of travel. And with all the connectivity we have today, it’s very easy to “work” on a train. Not a lot of sketching and painting, because of the train rocking, but almost anything else; knitting, writing in diary, reading, having tea, anything on the computer; all is possible on the train.
We start at dawn on Martha’s Vineyard with a boat ride. This is what it looks like when the first morning boat comes in, lots of worker bees coming to the island, trucks and cars unloading and loading. I discovered, watching this, that the new-man purse is a cooler. Almost every guy getting off the boat carried one ~ I figured out it was more than just lunch when I saw someone open his and pull out a hat! See that cart in the background, upper right ~ when you come and go from the island, you put your luggage on the cart, they drive it on and you can pick up your stuff on the other side. Very sane. In thirty years, we’ve never had anything go missing.
Joe is just finishing putting our luggage on the cart.
And off we go, 45 min to the mainland.
Arriving in blue-sky Boston at about 10:30 am.
South Station and here’s our stuff, on the cart, ready to board.
South Station . . .Boston, USA.
Our other three black bags on the cart behind Joe will be put in the luggage car; we won’t see them until LA. We of the “bring it all mentality” (if that counts as a mentality) will have these bags in our room. Joe is in cat-bird seat of joy of travel. See Club Acela in the background? That’s where we go to wait for our train.
Anyone who has a room on the train, gets to hang out in the Club Acela (most big cities have them) and drink free cokes and coffee and have free pastries while waiting for the train to arrive.
And here it is. All Aboard! Are you ready? The red cap comes and gets us and our bags, we follow him to the train and he deposits us and our stuff in our room with a view.
This is the viewing perch. We have brought the necessities of life for train travel. I’ve been taking the train to California and back since the 1980′s when I realized just how much I did not enjoy the whole flying experience, since, despite appearances these days, I am not cattle, and so I decided to try something else. And fell in love with the quiet gentleness of it.
We get settled, hang up our jackets, get out our books, and soon, in the gentlest possible way, the train moves a tiny bit, and then, rocking gently, we lumber out of the station on the first leg of our trip. There are hooks in the room, perfect for hanging these very accommodating French market bags filled with the little extras from home that make life sweet, carrots, oranges, celery and peanut butter, gingersnaps, and somewhere in there, a large chocolate bar. You can see what you want through the holes before you go for it.
I used to only bring an extension cord. But we had to get over that as we’ve been “gifted” with more and more electric equipment: must have: battery chargers for iphone and camera, cord for computer, then there is the most important of all, the tea pot.
Because what is morning without your own cup of tea in your room with a view? Minus the normal styrofoam cups. Why? Because we can. Oh, so civilized.
And so here we go . . . with appropriate MUSICA . . . to see how America is looking these days . . . past lakes and rivers . . . it’s
She is looking wonderful, as we ride along roadsides . . .
Passing traffic as we leave the city . . . Where our train, speeding in one direction, and this truck going in the other, gives quite an interesting distortion for the camera.
And then it gets truly beautiful as we head toward Chicago . . . a one-and-a-half-day overnight trip from Boston.
The gentle rocking movement of the train encourages three things, sleeping, eating, and watching out the window. It is exactly the same sort of “watching” we do when we watch flames in the fireplace, or the Atlantic ocean when we cross on a ship. Mesmerizing.
It’s fall, in case you didn’t notice!
East of Chicago, trains are different than the ones on the west side of the country. The west-side ones are double-deckers, with rooms upstairs and down. The trains on the east are like these, only one level but with high windows. Doubling the viewing pleasure.
What can I say? This part of the country is all rivers and streams, lakes and trees and woods.
Our dear conductor did very nice thing and opened back of train so I could take a photo, so I could see it the way Lincoln saw it, or Roosevelt, from their little porches on the backs of trains. Train travel is our heritage. The history of it is long and interesting.
the views from the lounge were spectacular . . .
And so it goes, rocking and swaying down the tracks . . .
And this is the perfect place to do it!
On a very colorful day . . .
We are going fast and the late afternoon sun is turning everything gold. Thank you God.
Weather was coming into Chicago, and as we got closer we felt it and saw it . . . I just love this photo. The train moves so quickly that often you just don’t get the photos you want. This one was a little miracle.
Hill and dale . . .westward we went . . .
It began to rain . . . I loved the way this tree was dropping its leaves. Lots more nature for the viewing down here at people level than at 30,000 feet. Leaves blow past our window in constant tatters, piles of them flying by too fast for our cameras to catch.
We stop all along the way, night and day, to pick up and let off passengers.
Many streets and neighborhoods look like this. You often see pumpkins on people’s porches ~
and once, at four AM Halloween morning, we were stopped in a train station somewhere, I looked out the window and saw a witch getting on the train! Hat and all! No, I did not go looking for her, I stayed tucked in my bed. Next day, Chicago . . .
And here we are, arriving in Chicago.
Back to Club Acela . . . we were late coming in; so what is usually a six-hour lay-over between trains, was only one. That was good news and bad news. Bad news: no Michigan Ave for shopping and lunch. Good news: it was freezing and storming out there, not fit for man nor beast, and we didn’t have long to wait for the next train, the one that would take us the rest of the way, to Los Angeles.
In the station, amazingly accommodating Red Caps pick you up at the train in these little carts, see the wagon on the back? That’s our luggage; we sit on the front. They deposit you in the Club Acela, then come back and get you when it’s time to go. Heaven forbid we should walk the length of a train! Actually we did give our cart up on our way in, to someone who had walking issues, but on the way back, we had it all to ourselves.
And here we are again, in our room with a view, heading west ~ we each have our own window, there is one behind me too.
And just in case you would like to see the dining car, this is it. It’s where we sit for each meal (if we want to come, they will even deliver it to your room if you ask nicely); meals come with your ticket, but tips are appreciated by the servers. We are usually seated with perfect strangers from every walk of life, from 747 pilots, to Amish couples, to people traveling through America from other countries, kids going back to college, doctors coming home from conferences and us. Some are very friendly, rarely someone isn’t, but politeness is the name of the game in this room.
Here’s the breakfast menu . . .
I think they might be lying when they say this is the low-cal choice! Of course, being the health nut that I am, this is what I had, every day.
On the left, those are two Albuquerque doctors we actually met later that night at dinner; they just happen to be in this picture; and that’s Joe behind them with his camera. This is the Observation car, speaking of rooms with views.
The thing to do, if you want to travel by train, is get an Amtrak credit card (Chase, Mastercard) … you get points, and travel for free. Oh yes, you do!
Can you imagine? Free! While rocking in your little bed on the train.
And the moon too, and the stars, all from your bed. There are many in congress who would like to do away with the train system (not the freight part, just the people part). Over the years I have seen a huge difference as they cut back on everything. Many of our routes have already been discontinued; a few years ago they came this far →.← from taking away the Boston to Albany route, which meant I would have had to drive five hours to get the train in New York to get to Chicago! We were saved by the bell, but it’s a very bare bones route these days, no dining car for one thing; and often not the kind of repairs you would hope to see in the sleeping cars. But many other routes have not fared even this well; they are already starting to put trains in museums. Some folks have to drive hundreds of miles to get on a train. Beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a terrible thing in my opinion . . . and in the opinion of this guy . . .
Just a regular person, not an Amtrak employee (fighting for his middle class job), but just someone who cares, who took the time to write this smart letter, make copies and leave them lying around in the lounge car. I could not agree more. Even if you will never take the train yourself, I would hope our children could see our world from these windows if they want to. It’s voting day, an appropriate time to think about the stuff that makes America great; personally I vote a straight “I love the train” ticket. Train lovers love America, they love the middle class. Trains use much less energy than any other form of travel, they could even be updated using our wonderful American we-can-do-it kind of know-how; it costs nothing to drag along a few extra train cars . . . maybe a massage car, or a meditation car, a car for MUSICA, a children’s play room, a library, a tour guide or lecturer, or any old thing; I wish Disney would buy it! But not to be too picky, if we could at least just keep what we have I would be happy. The cross-country trains provide much needed down time in this crazy world of ours, that’s something to protect.
FYI, with l♥ve from the Heart of the Home and me.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
And now, for your arm-chair training enjoyment, the wide open spaces of the wild and wonderful Mid-West . . .
Skies began to clear, the storm was behind us . . . And here is just a part of the Heartland of our beautiful country. Falling in Love with the English Countryside? Now we fall in Love with the American Countryside.
Where generations of families came from all over the world to make a place for themselves; here they farmed the land. I know some would have us believe there is a disconnect between the coasts and the Midwest, but I don’t think so. So many of us have roots here, my mom was born in Iowa, I think the Iowa in me is my best part!
Here they laid mile after mile of track; we see houses that are so far from each other, we’re pretty sure they must celebrate Halloween at The Grange! It is not neighborhood door-to-door trick-or-treat around here! But when we have come ‘cross country on the train at Christmas time, we’ve seen every house lined in colored lights. It was touching to see them, those houses, some seemingly in the middle of nowhere, twinkling celebration in the dark, the whole country, lit up cities and towns, pulled together in gratitude.
Another sunset, getting redder all the time, as we go toward Colorado . . . whistle blowing across the land . . .
And stop here in Albuquerque. Sometimes we get off here, get a car at the airport and drive one hour to Santa Fe, then up and over the mountains to see our family in Durango . . .
It’s always a one-hour layover, they wash the windows and we get to walk and drink in the fresh air . . . and look at the Native American jewelry they sell in the station.
The dirt in New Mexico is red! The sky is blue, the trees are green and the adobe is either white or brick colored. It’s very primary out here.
And now for the land of sagebrush and rock . . . it’s cowboy country right outside your window . . .
There’s a poem called Out Where the West Begins written in 1917 that sings a song of this part of the country . . .
“Out where a fresher breeze is blowing . . .”
“Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing . . .”
”That’s where the west begins . . .”
One more of these . . .
And the next morning we come over the mountains to arrive in Los Angeles, our destination, and travel spot for the next three weeks.
Yes, to go away we had to leave these faces for three weeks . . . and it was hard, but our friends, Will and Debby, are staying at our house on the island and sending photos and we know they are in good hands . . . And in exchange . . .
We get this . . . for the last two days we’ve been with these faces; my nephews, along with my mom and my sister Shelly ~ and my sister’s twins, Paden, on the left and Mason, on the right. They are eleven and this is the first time in my life I’ve totally been able to tell them apart. Whew! Maybe they can now forgive me for all the times I’ve had to say, “Which one are you?”
Paden on the left, Mason on the right. Poor things, they don’t know how to have fun. I feel so bad for them.
They helped us move into our hotel . . .
After they finished with the cart . . .
which took a while . . .
But we finally got it together . . . it’s so nice to have some (extra) men around the house. ♥
Yes, I know, I’m almost done being delightful. I just want you to know, it might take me a while to get your comments moderated (which I have to do in order to prevent spam from loading up our comment section), but I’ll get there ~ never fear. We’re off to my mom’s as soon as I get done here. Until then, one small favor? If you could close your eyes for a moment and say a little prayer for Blog Daddy, he doesn’t feel well. We’re going see him in Arizona on our way home in a couple of weeks, but until then, could you please surround him with your blessings, Girlfriends? Thank you! You are the best! XOXO to you and a special Muah! to Blog Daddy. ♥
If you don’t have our November Calendar, here’s what you almost missed! Happy November Girlfriends! XOXO Make it a wonderful one for you and the ones you love.