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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Waking up in Reno


Dear Stony Run

On the Coast Starlight it was all pretty much hoot-owl, with lights out at ten. I had a seat to myself until Klamath Falls, then got a seatmate in Klamath Falls. We talked into the night much about taking care of frail parents (she's 67), then we both slept into Sacramento. Here I sat in the station for four very warm but hard-benched hours. A pigeon walked about, to the consternation of the many three-year-olds, and a young man slept the morning away on one of the heated benches. He had no luggage. I enjoyed a lively hour-long conversation with a young woman born blind. She was led away to her train to San Jose and I was directed to Track Two to catch the Zephyr. As I got up to go, I left a small baggie of trail mix by the young man's elbow. My waistline certainly does not need it as much as his does.

A local commuter two-car train, much like a Metro, almost got me -- I didn't hear a thing. A half-deaf Risa unleashed on the world is a danger and an inconvenience, but there it is. Really, though, they should at least have a sign; the thing just comes out of nowhere.

We left Sacramento at about eleven, to a running commentary, over the public address system, on the history of the American River, site of the gold rush, and the building of the Sierra Nevada portion of the transcontinental railroad. I noticed there was no mention of the Chinese workers who did most of the actual work, hundreds of whom were buried in the roadbed over which we were traveling.

It was snowing very hard in the pass, and as we approached the summit, I could see that the engine was plowing through actual drifts. I couldn't get a picture of this for you as we were near the front of the train, but it was really spectacular. At a little over five thousand feet, sure enough, the Zephyr bogged down in heavy snow. My seatmate was a young woman from Southern California, en route to visit family at Lake Tahoe. We marveled together at the depth of the snow, the fragility of human endeavor, and joys of junk food consumed in train seats. Eventually a plow train came and led us out, and we made Truckee (which was her stop) not too far behind schedule.

I thought the Truckee River canyon very scenic. There was a huge eight-point buck standing on the side of the tracks watching us go by -- but that was the last thing I remembered before waking up in Reno.

It's dark now; we are east of Sparks and pointed in the general direction of Salt Lake. Everyone is watching DVDs and I am listening to some Russian Orthodox choral music. If I pull myself together enough, maybe I can start on a chapter for Starvation Ridge.

G'night; love to all
Risa

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