Taking the Train

Rock formation in New Mexico.

As my train rolled across New Mexico, I was reminded of how much I love this part of the world. Despite being someone who has spent most of my life close to the various huge bodies of water that set major boundaries of North America (the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico), I remain enamored of semi-arid and high desert places.

I have lived in cities since I left home (and the childhood home I left was already becoming a suburb). I love walkable cities with all the options they offer, not to mention the fact that those of us who hear different drummers can usually find a place in the city, while in small towns and the country, we are often out of step.

But all that open sky and space is glorious. It is easy to see why this was and is a special place to a lot of the indigenous people on this continent. It’s easy to want to be here.

I didn’t really mind the slowness of the train. I like the feeling of being in a neutral place, looking at beauty from my window. But it is absurd that we do not have the kind of train service we could and should have, with high speed trains going across the country and service to many more places.

To get to Kansas City from Oakland, I had to take a train to Bakersfield and then a bus from there to Los Angeles. Only in the city of angels could I get a cross country train to Kansas City. That’s the fastest route.

(For those who don’t live on the West Coast: San Francisco and Los Angeles are about 400 miles apart. California’s not as big as Texas, but it is damn big and has a bunch of mountains to boot.)

And the trains are so often late. They are not practical if your schedule is tight. Plus the sleepers are expensive and coach is not comfortable enough for long trips. (Also, the ventilation is OK and the filtration on my train seemed good, but I would not ride unmasked in coach.) Continue reading “Taking the Train”