November 14, 2007

Day one

Up at four in the blackness with just enough time for toast and coffee, we and were out on the curb only moments before Ba pulled up with a flourish. She had gotten up at five and amused us by being only one minute late.

G had put us into Amtrak business class, so you can see us sipping our coffee across a table smiling….endlessly smiling at each other in joy. I can be more childish than most, so think of me almost hopping up and down in glee.

The coffee was good, the track new and smooth, and the views out our windows beautiful in the early morning light. As the sun came over the mountains, we enjoyed the surfers along the beaches, a walker here waving to the train, or a man running with his dog there in the golden sunshine. Moving through Camp Pendelton, we could see where the big fire had so nearly burned through to the ocean. The closer we got to the big city, the more I could enjoy a bit of voyeurism by peering into the backyards of people and businesses discovering the real truths of their lives.

There was an hour between trains, and we had a choice. We could go wait in the station or stand on the platform in the sunshine. We stood and enjoyed the trains, the passengers, the crew laughing at the end of the dock. We let our backs warm as we did not know when the next bit of sunshine would come our way.

Then it was there. We easily found our Roomette…on the ocean side, and discovered there wasn’t a bit of room for our rolling bags….just enough for our backpacks, my purse, and the bag for the laptop. With a bit of a squeeze here and there, we fit perfectly if closely. Even the bathroom was right down the hall. No upgrading to a bedroom tho. The cost, at an additional 1,800 dollars, was one and a half times the round trip fare.

Smoothly the train pulls out of LA Union Station, and I am left the joy of backyards and businesses adorned with graffiti. “Insane Crew” said one, over and over. “Wisher Washer” said another on top of itself, beside it self, in many sizes lace like on the surfaces of trackside buildings.

We settled in as the rocks of Simi Valley flew past our windows. Our reservations were taken for lunch. The laptop unpacked, a book brought out, water set up, maps found.,,,all the little things arranged so we could find them easily….or we hoped. Celery and strawberries marched across the earth outside our windows in Ventura as we headed into a very good lunch.

Later my eyes would follow bits of old Highway 1 along the miles of winding beachfront. We would peek through big and bigger homes at the sea in Salinas, and enjoy the coastal scrub hiding the oil derricks and pumps from the ocean. In Santa Barbara we couldn’t see the smaller homes and neighborhoods, only the imaginative little parks near the beach and the surf as it crashed on the sand. Later in Gaviota, we were stunned by the miles of gorgeous beaches available for everyone to visit.

As we moved up the coast, I would scribble a note here about this, or a note about that. At Marker, 333, the wind blows patterns on the ocean. Or I see, on the very narrow beaches, miles of tire tracks and every once in a while a gathering of trucks with surf boards on their racks. Once far from anyone, far away on the rolling mesa near the sea, I see a ring of circled Airstreams above the ocean.

We catch glimpses of the giant gantries where they shoot off missiles sit as if the were preying mantises hunched against the sky. There the miles of dunes march golden to the sea, and I wait for them to appear only seeing pickle weed instead. After miles of beaches, cliffs like interlocking fingers into the sea and beauty, we round one corner and find the wind is up and the sea is covered with little white horses as far as the eye can see.

We ate too much this first day. Lunch, and desert, then M&M’s and diet coke followed by cheese and crackers at a wine and cheese tasting,,,,,then dinner. A real dinner. I only tasted HIS deserts, but taste, I did. Later, grey over-grazed hills hugged the fading sky while G and I battled at cribbage and sleep. He up….what a struggle, and I down.


  1. Hope you sleep well in your roomette. I wonder where you will be when you wake up.
    I would love to take the trip from here to Portland on the train. My Grandfather was a Conductor for Union Pacific and one of my earliest memories is a train ride from Kansas to Pendleton, Oregon.

  2. What a delightful travel log. Train travel is my preferred mode of travel. Even more than sailing. I never thought I would say that! Pleasant journey.

  3. Lovely description of your trip. Your ability to capture detail is wonderful. I'm glad to hear about a good train trip in this country. My last bout with Amtrak was 2 years ago and I vowed never again.

    The trains in Japan were great. Wish we had those here.

  4. I've never been on a train vacation (at least since I've been old enough to remember) . . . I think it's something Hubby and I may have to look into for the future. You looked very comfortable in that dining car. I'll be interested to follow you home.


What a delight to get a note from you. Thanks for leaving one.


Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...