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Fourways Travels


  • CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR: A TRAIN RIDE TO REMEMBER...

    Amtrak from outside, reflection on an abandoned station...
    So it started early in the morning as I walked to the train station (they don't call it the railway station here, something I am so used to back home). Dogs barked (no, am just making this one up), cops chased me with their lights flashing (nah…am making this up as well) and finally a beautiful secret agent from Nebraska in a tiny red bikini gave me a ride and safely dropped me at the station (finally I am speaking the truth!).

    Snow, there was so much of it!

    Interestingly I took notes while I was in the train, though now they do not make much sense, at least not for this post.

    Its surely some sort of luck when you meet the most interesting people in the train and have one hell of a time with them! Intense political discussions about Israel, Obama's policy about the US as well as the Middle East, Kashmir and its various problems, the Jews and their belief systems, the Mormons and Scientology sects, the cool lingo of the American youth (I actually got a crash course on it :)), music and revival of the disk records in US, movies, books, books and books, WWF, Hulk Hogan and Yokozuna, and so much more.

    The majestic Colorado river...
    Some experimentation...the rocky mountains in the background...

    At the end of the first day in train as Gabe, Ryan and me sat and enjoyed whiskey, I battled sleep for a while. It was past mid-night and I was especially keen to hit the bed, especially because even the previous night I slept only for about four hours. And I am glad that I didn't. Tom joined us (and he is 80 years old), followed by a bunch of other guys. Whiskey flowed, and so did some interesting and intense conversations. Ryan (the animator) took a break from the light box and work and gobbled down cans of beer, while Tom told us stories from his era. Gabe's mouth dropped open when he realized that Tom was already 18 years old in 1948 (when Israel got it independence), I believe he is still recovering from the shock.

    The viewing room, I spent almost two full days here, my seat was used only for sleeping and keeping the bags
    One the beautiful stations, I almost missed my train here...

    Somehow time just flew, it was only when the train reached the Salt Lake City and we went down for a smoke, we realized that it was actually 3AM. Weirdly I was no longer sleepy and went up and had another cup of whiskey, it was for the first time after coming from India that I enjoyed the drink so much. I eventually retired at 03:30, followed by Gabe, while Ryan never slept.

    Colorado again...
    Kayaking in the Colordao...

    However, the day was quite sober (apart from the beer). I bumped into Gabe sometime after lunch in the viewing room, and realized that he is one of the easiest person to have a conversation with. He knows about all that you say, and adds so much value to your own knowledge base. Its not common that I get to have such intense discussions. And this dude is just finishing under grad! I was extremely satisfied with the discussions in the day, though they were tiring as well. Why don't I know more people who I can talk to about meaningful things? Why is politics as a subject just never discussed with friends?

    Gabe (Gabriel), the intellectual :)
    One of the cigarette breaks
    Not sure which river this one is, perhaps Colorado still...

    Today, on the other had was rather mad. I finally met up with Alex, John and Chanel (of! I keep forgetting her name). These guys are absolute crazies, and just so much fun. Between the five of us, we finished almost extraordinary amount of beer. I had such a fantastic time. Alex (the New Yorker), John (the record lover) and Chanel (the girl with yellow legs) make a fantastic triplet. I almost missed the train buying the beer and I must thank Alex for saving me day!

    Alex and Chanel in the park
    John trying to be a wrestler :)
    The bottle of beer almost made me miss the train!

    We ate and drank and exchanged so much with each other. While Gabe is an intellectual (and I guess he would make an excellent speaker as well), these three are just the opposite, though very very smart nevertheless.

    A little about the train journey as well. In one word, its fantastic! The views outside are simply out of this world, and the change in them is rather dramatic. I actually used my camera very little, and most of the time my eyes absorbed the nature outside. Often I just gaped outside, looking and feeling so happy about having this relaxed time. The lack of wi-fi in the train forces people to talk with each others and connect. There is simply just too much time and it allows you to relax.

    The dry lands have their own charm...
    Some Grand Canyon like mountains (in all my naivety)...

    I was kind of sad that the train journey came to an end for me when Denver came into sight. I had such a fantastic time, and I am already looking forward to the return trip. But for now its Denver calling. I am just back after having a fantastic Czech meal and winning a couple coupons for being the last team in the Trivia quiz, and feeling rather ready to hit the bed.

    Read this - Top 5 unmissable journeys by rail by Lonely Planet and you will see this one as well :) 



    Denver :)
    -- By Siddhartha Joshi