Tag Archives: Amtrak

Picture Post: Taos and LA

My blog is quickly becoming the place where I am going to save all of the pictures of my trip.  Here are 4 of Taos that got left out, followed by 3 of the train trip from Albuquerque to Taos on the South West Chief.  My guess would be that they are also of New Mexico, but it could be Arizona.  More posts later today that will actually be about PERU.










Scenes from the South West Chief

Table Top

Table Top



Hola todos!  I´m going to apologize in advance for any blog I post from South America.  The keyboards here are screwy and spellcheck doesn´t work.  So forgive.


This beffuddled entry was written at a hostel in Cuzco.  I came here unprepared, so there will be updates soon.  I´ve been in Peru for 3 days now, but I realize there is more to my trip across America that I need to write about, so here goes.

It was sad to leave my Rita, but we had some good times, of course.  Rita took me to see her old hometown of Taos (only one letter away from TACOS), which is a beautiful, quiet mountain town.  Pics will be coming.  It was only the beginning of the massive amounts of massive mountains that I have encountered.

I took the train from Albuquerque to Los Angeles.  It was a 16 hour trip, and out of all of the treks I have made by train I have to say it was the worst.  The people on the train weren´t very friendly (probably because most of them lived in either Albuquerque or Los Angeles.  I wouldn´t be happy either).  I slept for most of it, but the desert of Arizona and the mountains of New Mexico that I did see was magical. 

I was surprised to find that Union Station in LA was the most beautiful out of all of the many train stations I visited on my trip.  It had incredibly high ceilings, and winding courtyards throughout.  But maybe I´m being biased because when I arrived it was already 75 degrees and it was only 8:15am. 

Brandi Baho was my knight in a white rental car. He picked me up so early in the morning and drove me around LA with some techno music bumping and the windows down.  A pic is coming of him too.

Brandon and I rested a bit, cooked a very manly carb-loaded breakfast, and then took a tender hike up the hill behind the complex (property of Emerson College, kind of) where he lives.  Last year a fire raged across that hill and almost consumed Emerson, and it was neat to see all of the burned trees and bushes as we climbed.  When we got to the top you could see all of LA, and it was un poquito disgusting.  The smog was visible from up there, even though it was winter.  But nonetheless the view was enjoyable, as was conversation and beers with Brandon. 

Brandon also took my to a very strange store that I wish I had taken pictures of to buy a sketchy new ¨ipod¨ for 25 bucks.  It´s a piece of crap, and probably wasn´t worth the money, but at least it plays music.  It came in handy in the Lima Airport, which I will explain later.  PS Check out my entry on the homeless in Chicago for an update on my old ipod. 

Eventually I met up with my true love Krystyna, who whisked me away to her Paris Hilton Is My New BFF-esque mansion.  We had a simple, lovely night of partying with her roommates and friends, and it actually turned out to be one of the wilder parties of my life.  If you want details,  you´ll have to find a way to talk to me about it directly.  Or call Krystyna. 

I woke up slightly dazed on an air mattress in Krystyna´s hallway.  It wasn´t long before we got up, went to a delicious and expensive (LA) breakfast place just down the street from her, and then quickly made our way to DISNEYLAND.  I kid you not.  I actually went to one of the centers of American Capitalism on the day before the night I flew to South America. 

Krystyna plays Sleeping Beauty used to work for a disney affiliate, so she had a silver pass that allows her to enter the parks with up to three friends.  Score.  What followed was a bizarre day of animatronics, homosexual safari boat drivers who looked like an ugly version of Matt Starring, and the biggest moment of all, Turkey Legs.  Pictures below.

Main Street!

Main Street!

Waited for 45 minutes behind this gem.  The front has a pic of Malificent.

Waited for 45 minutes behind this gem. The front has a pic of Malificent.



This makes me consider heterosexuality.

This makes me consider heterosexuality.



And there you have it.  After Disney we blasted home through a moving parking lot of traffic, regrouped for a moment, and then I packed my things and Krystyna took me to the airport. 

Overall, I don´t think I´ll ever be living in LA.  I like the weather and the people there, but that´s about it.  Upcoming posts tomorrow or the day after on my flights and arrival in Cuzco!  Hasta luego!

A List of People I Met and Things I Saw/Did While Taking a Train From Chicago to Lamy, NM

Most of this happened in the observation car of the Southwest Chief, or in the car directly behind it.

  • A gold miner from Colorado.  He was on the way back from his grandmother’s funeral.  He runs heavy machinery and works only 14 days a year.  He said I was wise to do what I was doing, and not get married and have a daughter and divorce, like he did when he was my age.  So, I guess points for me.  Apparently, there actually is gold in them thar hills.
  • Lost my iPod.
  • Searched for my iPod with the help of a surly Amtrak steward.
  • Never found my iPod.
  • The sunrise over Colorado planes.  It went from pink to tangerine to blue seamlessly.
  • A female correction’s officer from a maximum security prison in Kansas.  She worked there because she lost her job at General Motors.
  • Her autistic 10 year old son who taught himself how to play the piano and has perfect pitch.
  • Little red towns with names like Las Vegas and Raton.
  • Mountains!  Mountains!
  • Icy edged rivers, no more than a trickle.
  • Tumbleweed, twice.
  • Kaleb, a hillbilly from West Virginia.  He sold everything he owned except for a sweatshirt, hat, gloves, brown overalls and a jacket.  He is trying to go all the way around the world.  He has never been out of the US except for one trip to Niagara Falls.  He has no money left, and just that morning had eaten his first meal out of a dumpster (the left behind half of a Hardee’s potato hash and egg scramble).  His favorite bible story is the one where King David pretends to lose his mind.  He believes that the flood of Noah formed the Grand Canyon.
  • A little old woman on a platform selling playing cards, mittens, earrings, toothbrushes and the like in the vicious cold of the Colorado morning.  She made no sales on our train.
  • Many Amish people, two of whom I talked with for a few hours.  They were on their way to a picture framing convention in Las Vegas.  Still, days later, I’m pondering what that would be like.
  • A bagel that, when I asked for its variety, was described as “a brown one” and when I asked for it toasted it was microwaved.  It cost $3.50.
  • Rita, sweet sweet Rita.

Nina and The Homeless of Chicago

The train I took from Chicago to Santa Fe

The train I took from Chicago to Santa Fe

Well, I completed the first part of my intensely long train trip with success.

I boarded the Amtrak train in Boston at noon on Thursday, and rode that girl all the way to Chicago.  The car I was in was rather small, but I had a seat to myself for the majority of the trip.  I read mostly, this book by Margaret Atwood which is a page-turner, eye-opener masterpiece.

I was drawing a picture of myself on the train in my journal, and underneath it I wrote “I want to make a friend.”  As I was doing this, the girl sitting behind me started talking on her cell phone to someone, and said, “There aren’t that many cool people on this train, but the ride is pretty.”  As soon as she hung up, I turned around to chat with her, and actually ended up talking with her all the way to Chicago.

Her name was Nina, and she had just graduated from high school.  She was on her way back to her home on Chicago, where she was going to pack up her things to leave for India.  She habitually used the phrase, “Wandering Youth” to describe our bond.  We had some nice discussion, and she was more than happy to help me put away the flask of vodka I had packed myself.

Unfortunately, Amtrak neglected to tell me that we were making a 2 hour pit stop in Albany, NY.  I don’t know if you have been to Albany, but I would go ahead and say it is the opposite of glamorous.  They also neglected to tell me that if I got off the train in Albany, I could not get back on until 5 minutes before departure.  So I got to spend a lovely two hours reading and eating surprisingly good chowder in the Albany train station.  Then I was back on my way.

Around 10:30 we were both tired, and the scenery outside had faded from the snow-covered oak trees of Massachusetts and Upstate New York to pitch black flatness of the Midwest, so we went to sleep.  This was a trial.  First it was frigidly cold on the train, and I didn’t have much to cover up with.  I slept for a good period of time on my seat, but then Mr. Conductor woke me up and told me someone had to sit with me.  So I got up and moved over with Nina, since everyone had to double up anyway.  Nina slept on my lap for a while like a kitty kat, but eventually even that was too cold so I moved to the back of the train where it was warmer.  I slept on the floor amongst luggage until they yelled at me and told me to move.  By that time the sun was coming up, and I got to watch the beautiful flatlands of places like South Bend, Indiana.  It was so very flat, and it looked to me like a setting where quiet serial killers would flourish.  I wouldn’t want to live there, but I was still intrigued by how different it looked from the east coast I was used to.

Finally we pulled into Chicago, the train moving at half the speed of smell, about 45 minutes behind schedule.  I was sad to learn that it was a brisk 10 degrees there, but I slipped my PJs on under my jeans and took to the city.

First I saw this.

The Bean

This is the Bean, a really weird piece of art in Chicago that reflects a the whole city.

It's in front of a skating rink.

It's in front of a skating rink.

I had to keep moving because it was so cold, but I went in a search for some deep dish pizza and found it.  I have to say, I like the original NY pizza better.  This stuff has so much cheese I think one of my arteries is still clogged.

As I was walking from destination to destination, I had about 4 or 5 conversations with the homeless of Chicago.  Though I didn’t give any of them money, because I myself am broke and somewhat homeless, they were all so friendly.  One man even hugged me. stole my iPOD!  I can´t believe how long it took me to put two and two together.

After pizza I had to head back to the train station to board the next train, the Southwest Chief to Santa Fe, which I will write about later.  For now, Rita is coming to meet me on her lunch break for a bit.  Miss everyone back east, and keep an eye out for more update soon.