Train Number 14
Now, this is a train ride! The Coast Starlight was my west coast train, taking me from LA to Oakland, then from Oakland up to Portland? You get good rest stops to stretch your legs (something I’m doing every chance I get after two weeks of being on Amtraks) and a great guy came on in southern Oregon to give an audio tour of the land surrounding the train up through Eugene! According to him, the Amtrak cuts straight through the beautiful preserves and gorges in that area, where otherwise the only roads are ATV trails. No car drive can take you through the scenery this train does.
I just left Portland yesterday, after arriving a day earlier than planned. As to not give the city of roses any kind of advantage of extra coverage, I immediately biked far outside of the city to a remote spot in Oregon. More on that later!
Seriously, do yourself a favor and take this train north one time in your life. Must be north though! The southbound one runs at night, unfortunately.
Oakland and San Francisco
It was a little too ambitious to try to cover both cities. My train arrived and departed in Oakland, and it would have been silly to not go to San Francisco. Still, though, Mission: Redwoods accomplished.
Train Number One
The Sunset Limited. This used to be the US’s only cross-country train, which is to say now there just isn’t one. Unfortunately, after hurricane Katrina a large amount of track east of New Orleans was damaged, and nobody thought it was worth the money to fix it. I took it, including my pit stops in Texas, from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Cutting through desert and mountains, riding right along the mexican border, holy crap was it a beautiful ride.
Annnnd, here’s the other one. Obviously, the weather has been a bit more cooperative for this ride, although there was something really beautiful about flooded Mississippi.
The Number 59 Train.
AKA the coldest train of my life. I think I’m traumatized from trying to sleep on there. Either that, or more likely I am just some baby-ass baby. We left Chicago at night, and by sunrise the train had made it to Memphis, where I quickly stepped outside to warm up in the balmy 69° weather. Air conditioning, man. What the hell.
Anyway, I’ve done a lot of planning and careful watching of the weather forecast for the next two weeks, and I really thought everything was on my side. You can imagine how bummed I was when the train made its way through severe storms and flash floods. Everything of value I brought is being kept in a dry sack, but I couldn’t shake how put off I was by the idea of spending a day photographing a flooded New Orleans.
But things have a way of working out, and on the train’s way into the city a quick shift occurred in the weather and I stepped off the train into a bright, hot, and friggin’ humid New Orleans. I had, tops, another three hours of daylight to go shoot in, so it was incredibly inconvenient to see I snapped my bike’s rear derailleur hanger in half. I called around, found a bike shop who was open the idea of rigging something to work, did said riggin, then set off in search of New Orleans’ world-famous vegan cuisine!!
I’ve been riding the Amtrak for over a week, and this is the first of two trains I have been on in that time. Admission: I’ve put probably too many photos on the railpass tumblr so far.
I’m on my first train of the next two weeks! I didn’t sleep most of the night due to how frigid they keep the train, but (not surprisingly) I was able to meet some new people to help keep me awake and stimulated.
I’m a little too tired to do any processing of photos from the big camera, so here’s a little iphone photoset for y’all to check out while I try to sleep in this icebox.
Oh also, I know it looks like I brought a lot of stuff, but hopefully this vine will make things clearer:https://vine.co/v/hrrHjagjwuA
Behind The Scenes: cah just released The Bigger, Blacker Box: a new, dumb box to put all your Cards Against Humanity decks and expansions in. They had me shoot chadkouri at work making a collage of well-worn cards from Snakes and Lattes. You can find the final photo of the collage printed inside the box!