Also, don’t forget, you can click any of the pictures to enlarge them
I left Chicago on the Southwest Chief, and was ready to see what else was between myself and California. The urban landscape of Chicago soon fell to rural surroundings. I had never seen anything like it. Fields that went on for ever, with giant farmhouses and roads scattered miles apart. The recurring thought of “This is everyday life to some people,” kept popping back in my head.
I felt like I could see forever across these vast fields, but I didn’t see any signs of a city or even a town. Just endless fields, which were beautiful. You wouldn’t see a tree for miles, just fields and fences along the tracks. You could always tell where the next farmhouse was, because they all had a small group of trees by them. There would be a single road that would connect to the house’s driveway and then disappear somewhere far off on the horizon.
We passed through Illinois, crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa, Missouri, and rolled right through Kansas. We crossed the Mississippi right around sunset, and it was beautiful. The bridge across the massive river seemed to go on forever, and it was beautiful with the sunset reflecting off of the water.After we crossed the Mississippi I relaxed as we rolled through Kansas, into Colorado and then New Mexico. I grabbed a beer and spent some time talking with people in the lounge car. I met a guy by the name of Israel, and also someone named Kenny who was completely wasted. They both told me about stories they had in LA, one of Kenny’s included partying too hard and not having money to get home, so he had to sleep in the woods. It’s funny though, because I have yet to see woods in LA. From the journal:
.. You hear everything on the train. People having serious in depth conversations about religion, politics, current events, history.. then you hear people drunkenly rambling and yelling nonsense. Yet somehow, this is the most relaxing trip I have ever been on.
I finally decided to get some sleep, and my next journal entry wasn’t until 1:05pm the following day.
I’m currently sitting in the observation car while we go thru New Mexico. The mountains in New Mexico are impressive. I talked with a conductor for a while, and he was telling me about his job, and he gets to travel by train for free. I spent most of today talking with a 65 year old man who has been sitting next to me since Chicago. He is retired, and used to work as a manager at a Die Casting place. He said he retired just in time, because the whole industry is being outsourced overseas. His name is Tom and hes going to visit his daughter and Grand Kids in Santa Fe. He said he bought a small camper and one day he wants to drive Rt 66 and hit up the old “hippy places”. He told me he loved learning about other cultures, even ones that are in our own country. I agreed and had quite a good talk with him, everything from politics to what we saw outside the window. When I woke up this morning, he informed me we were stopped and I had just enough time for a smoke. Good lookin out Tom.
We kept rolling through New Mexico, and the scenery was so new and beautiful to me. The dessert looked like it went on forever. We were at a higher elevation in New Mexico and Colorado, so there was actually snow on the ground for a good portion of the trip.I met a kid named Christian who was on his way to LA from Baltimore, MD and we ended up hanging out for most of the day on the train. We had a stop for about an hour in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so we tried to explore the city as much as we could in that hour. We walked around a bit and found a pizza joint, so we grabbed a few beers before we had to get back to the train. We ended up being a little late and our casual walk around the city turned out to be a pretty steady jog back. We got back to the platform, and on board the train just in time. Once on board, we started moving again almost right away. As always, we kept rolling, and talking. We also met a kid named Dakota who was heading home to Riverside, California from Colorado. He was a football player, and he had just joined the Marines. We were hanging out in the lounge car as the sun set across the never ending dessert and it offered a view beyond beautiful.
I wanted to sleep, but I was too excited. I would arrive in Los Angeles, CA the following morning around 8am!