Training Time

"Time will say nothing but I told you so . . ." WH Auden

With Destiny on the Sunset Limited

Destiny was traveling with John (#2), who told her that his girlfriend is the ocean. I had no comment at the time, and still don’t.

That’s CJ standing in the background, our unfailingly up-beat dinning room manager.

Feb 9, 2012

John and John

John on the left is a retired Naval Commander on his way home in San Diego from a board meeting in New Orleans. John is serving as president of the Steamship Historical Society of America, and we ended up having dinner together at a resturant in the handsome Union Station (LA) while waiting for the 10:10p Surfliner to San Diego. I enjoyed learning about the society since the riverside town of Snohomish was settled thanks to the development of paddle wheel steamships in the Pacific Northwest. My luck riding the Sunset Limited changed when I discovered that John was taking a cab in my direction east of San Diego and offered to share the fare — thanks John!

John on the right is from Lafayette, Lousiana, and on his way in deguise to California beach fun.  As I understand, one too many skate board injuries put an end to John’s professional career. John and his traveling buds were also going on to San Deigo, and I last saw John rolling down the concourse toward the tracks with he and his bags atop a skate board

Feb 9, 2012

Harry at breakfast, Thursday morning

Harry had the roomette across the hall from mine, while his wife used the family room on the lower level.  We talked about the estimated arrival in Los Angeles now that we were rolling again after a delay of some 30 hours.  Never did get to his story other than they were returning home located near Burbank.

Feb 9, 2012

With Nica at dinner on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nica’s home is in Boston and she travelled by train to Florida to visit a cousin, than on to New Orleans to look up another cousin, and is now on her way to catch the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles for a trip to Portland, OR for a conference. Then she will return home by train!  Talk about “training time!” 

I quizzed Nica Thursday durning our stop in Maricopa, AZ, how is it for a woman travelling alone, and Nica reported no problems.  Like me, she is marking a significant birthday, (in her case, 51) with a grand train journey. She considers travelling by train to be a retreat, just as I do.  

Having the sleeping car room is essential of course. It’s like a monk’s cell, I imagine, and I can sit for hours watching the land and small towns go by with a surprisingly empty mind that allows thoughts to come and go, like the view out the window.

Feb 8, 2012

Wayne and Joyce from Chaska, Minnesota

Wayne is ready with the answer when I ask him about the suspenders, and it’s not any where near what I expected.  He is using the wide, comfortable suspenders to hold up a colostomy bag — the result of three operations for colon cancer. At one point, not sure of the timing, he was told to arrange hospice care!  Didn’t need it. Since then he has stopped chemo treatments. Both he and Joyce are following a diet based on blood type — this, they say, is the reason Wayne is still alve, and on a train trip today.

And yes, Wayne did work as a carpenter.

Feb 8, 2012

Maria at breakfast on Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wish I could speak Spanish; still, her eyes tell a wordless story.

2/24/12: We were stopped at the time (which makes for a sharper image), that turned out to be the major derailment that sent us back to San Antonio.  I was hoping to hook up with Maria and the one Spanish speaking car steward later, but Maria opted to continue by bus to a small town in California near Bakersfield.

Feb 8, 2012

With Alice at dinner on Monday, February 6, 2012.

Ended up sharing several meals with Alice.  Retired from the Navy, Alice was currently working as a librarian at the San Diego Public Library.  Alice was returning from a the funeral of her ex-husband.

(The blurry images are due to the movement of the train, even up-and-down! at times.)

Feb 6, 2012

Foreman and Trell at dinner, Monday, February 6, 2012.

Foreman works in his brother’s bar in Baton Rouge and is on a trip to LA to visit family; he decided to take the bus so didn’t get to talk with him again.  

Trell (hope I have spelled it correctly) is on her way home in Houston after attending a baby shower in New Orleans. Trell shared with us her experience of a five-year heart patient dying in the hospital where she works.  Told of the mother, holding the kid, banging open the door, screaming.  Everyone was crying she said.  She can’t get the image of the child’s blue face out of her mind; and is thinking of changing to another medical occupation, like dental assistant, I think she mentioned.

Feb 6, 2012

Amanda and Scott at lunch on Monday, February 6, 2012.

Scott treated Amanda to the luxury of a family size sleeping car room for her first train trip — number one advantage is that the seats convert into a double bed! This is Scott’s neck of the woods, rural Louisiana, and Amanda’s from Indianapolis. They met at Ft Bliss when she was still on active duty, but Scott was ex-army currently doing contract security work for the Department of State, which he had just quit.  They were on the way to a town near Phoenix where Scott will begin training for a new career that I didn’t catch.  Scott told the story of the situation in Irag, where he was stationed, both in and out of the service, how the Iraqi government is detaining private contractors over visa issues.

Back home, I read that the State Department is reducing the size of the U.S. mission in Iraq in half.

Feb 6, 2012

Trina at lunch on Monday, January 30, 2012

Trina ordered a salad, can’t you just tell? She is on her way to join her husband in Minot, ND, who is also working the oil fields. Brody, her husband, worked the fields for 11 months last year, commuting from Missoula and living in a “man camp” — no women or alcohol allowed. Trina told me the story of sneaking in for a visit, but at a time when Brody’s rig was suddenly scheduled to move, which means that the man camp housing is also relocated. She had to hide under a blanket in Brody’s pickup for 10 hours!

Trina is not sneaking in on this visit, but looking for a place to live for her family — Bryce age 10 , and Aaiyah, age 5, —and maybe a job for herself. (I was told by several people that even fast food workers are getting $15+ an hour.) Trina knows many people from Missoula who are commuting to the ND oil fields, but that’s not for her and Brody. I looked for both Trina and Charlie at the stop in Minot, but I’m sure Brody met the train and they were off. I came across Charlie calling a cab, I wished him luck.

A steady, cold rain cut short my pacing the platform for exercise. At 9:42p the eastbound Empire Builder left the empty station, right on time.

Slideshow about mancamps in the New York Times.

Jan 30, 2012