Southwest Chief Pulls into Final Station

January 21st, 2015

Its early morning on the west coast.  We’re scheduled to arrive at Union Station in Los Angeles in a couple of hours.

We made it!

We made it!

I’m still on New York City time and will continue to have that New York State of Mind, heart of a Hoosier, and unbridled spirit of a Kentucky born gal as I roll into a place that’s completely foreign to me. I’m not sure I’m ready to take on California quite yet, particularly its infamous highway system which is likely populated with lots of uninsured motorists. That’s another blog.

I shouldn’t be “railing” (pun totally intended) on California.  I promised my husband I would make the best of it, and you can be sure my experiences here will provide for lots of great blogging material.

After yesterday’s post, lots of you are probably pretty amazed that we actually made it this far.  Barring some unforeseen event, we did, and I attribute it to a few things.  First,  it’s important to be with someone who (while they may not love it) is a good sport about train travel.  Take in all the good things about it.  Some of the scenery is great, and it’s in places you likely aren’t visiting any time soon if ever.  Finally, it doesn’t hurt to bring your own minibar.  Then when things get tough, it really doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing.  With my several bottles of champagne on hand and the scenic views, I could easily have imagined I was hanging at The Breakers in Palm Beach instead of rolling across the desert.

Okay, that’s clearly an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  Obviously, it would take more bottles of champagne than I had room for in my giant bag to make that happen.

Our last leg of the journey turned out to be far less dramatic than the day before.  Still, it had its moments.

The biggest “event” occurred on our stop in Albuquerque where I had about forty minutes to venture out and shop for ice.  Here’s a helpful hint.  Ice is a very big deal on a train because it’s in such short supply.  In train terms, it’s pure gold. You have to ask for it. I thought I could cleverly get around the system by scouting out a CVS where I could buy and haul back a bag of ice.

Good luck trying this in Albuquerque.  I kept looking for a drugstore, any drugstore, and all I could see were bars and more bars with a few restaurants mixed in.  The locals didn’t appear friendly (quite the opposite), so I just kept on walking.  I felt incredibly unsafe.  I definitely appreciate the NYPD even more now because I never had this feeling in New York City.

It didn’t help matters that I was wearing my pink beret and black shiny boots.  In New York, this would count for great fashion.  In Albuquerque, it obviously screams something else entirely.

What made matters worse is that time got away from me and I ended up having to send out an SOS.  With nineteen minutes to go until train departure, I booked it quickly to the train.  Along the way, I was cat called three times to which I gave the appropriate response.  Fortunately, none of those sad people approached me, and I made it back to the train in time.

I’m sure there are nice parts of New Mexico.  I’m told Santa Fe is nice. However, after what I saw I can only assume that whichever public relations firm came up with the slogan “Land of Enchantment” never actually visited New Mexico. For those of you who live there, before you flood me with hate mail, I ask instead that you offer suggestions of the truly “enchanted” places to see.  In fairness, I may have just missed them.

Final meal after a memorable trip.

Final meal after a memorable trip.

All told, I feel we made the most of this trip.  I loved it and would gladly go back.  Paul already vetoed that idea and told me if I go back it will be alone or with girlfriends.  I suggested that an overnight trip with one bag and no change of trains might be nice, and he didn’t totally disagree, so there is still hope.

I’m fairly certain that whatever happens, Paul won’t do cross country again and I can’t say I blame him.  He’s a big guy and riding the rails isn’t easy. Still, I think he’s glad he did it and overall we both had fun. He was really great to do this for me.

So now we’re in California which is honestly a place I never wanted to be.  Still, marriage is a compromise, and it’s important to Paul so I’m going to try to make the best of it.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy.  The entire culture here is foreign to me.  This is a place where many people think the Secretary of State is the receptionist at the DMV and Rahm Emanuel is a hairstylist.  Then again, they probably know his brother, Ari, who is a mega-Hollywood agent.

It’s official.  I’m now on the left coast where I’ll need to get used to tofu and green smoothies for breakfast.  Here on the train we enjoyed a bottle of wine with cheese and crackers.  Kind of like a last meal.

Hello, Golden State.

I’m going to try to make the best of it.  One thing I promise, with me here, California will never be the same.


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