Posted by: facetothewind | August 1, 2012

Happy Rails

Now that my Bay Area Tour also known as HELL ON A BUS is over, I can’t tell you how happy I was to be back on the train. I know in America you’re more likely to get where you’re going sooner were you to jump on a riding lawnmower than on the Amtrak, but it’s a helluva lot better than riding the ex-con mobile also known as Greyhound.

Got m’self a sleeper room, put on my tunes, kicked off my shoes and watched the world go by at the death defying speed of a tortoise. Let’s just call Amtrak the Silver Tortoise. Lying down while gliding smoothly by fields, over streams, into the mountains and then along the coast at 10 feet high in the air, the Silver Tortoise becomes my own private magic carpet.

I am completely mesmerized and pacified on the train. I always bring a book and never read a word as I stay glued to the window not wanting to miss a single waving farmer in a field, a single stream or eagle flying over a lake.

I’ve even seen some guys in Malibu drop their pants in salute of the passing train. Oh America!! When will you ever grow up? Here’s a sign at the Amtrak station in Oakland. Seems that the folks at Amtrak corporate know who’s riding. And THIS is why I get my own room…

And you know they wouldn’t have written that sign if someone hadn’t already done each and every one of the items listed above. Gee, I don’t know I was thinking why don’t I just feed my goat in the station or take a dump at the ticket counter and then do my laundry in the drinking fountain, maybe even take a bath with a friend in the toilet stall.

America has neglected its train systems almost to the point of failure. And the riders are just not coming out for Silver Tortoise. Look at how empty the train is at the peak of summer…

By the way the photos above and below are at the horseshoe bend near San Luis Obispo where the train does a 320 degree turn so that you can see both the front and the back of the train. Well, now there’s a little bit of train trivia for you.

With the US Government subsidizing the rails, the fare from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo is $37. From Tucson to Los Angeles it’s $54. I don’t think that would cover gas if you drove it in a Prius. And then of course you’d never meet lovely people like Bridget and Cassandra, a mother and daughter duo from Vienna. We shared our meals together today and talked about all things German, Austrian and American. They even invited me to come and stay with them in Austria. OK, don’t ask me twice.



  1. I’m very happy that you took this train trip and wrote about it. It made me remember train rides I’ve taken across the U.S., one so bad that I vowed to fly back on the return trip. Nevertheless, an experience I’ll not forget. You’ve brought tears to my eyes.

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