Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If you like pictures, you'll probably want to view this blog in Firefox or Safari, since both browsers will accurately display the colors in the pictures based on the ICC color profile I've assigned them. Chrome, Opera and certain other browsers don't seem to care much for colors, so they may or may not render the pictures accurately.

Only a few hours more to NYC!

I Come Bearing Images

Nothing to report folks. After a night of wandering aimlessly up and down the train and NOT sleeping, I managed to get about four hours when my body insisted that my brain go f**k itself.

I have, however, got a whole mess of pictures that are uploading as I type this, so that might make up for the shit non-update that this post otherwise is.

Leaving LA

Barstow, CA

Middle of nowhere, somewhere between CA and Albuquerque


Funky cloud formation over the mountains

Radio (?) mast of epic proportions

Diesel power

Proof that all golfers are batshit insane - this was close enough to Albuquerque but still...


Albuquerque Station

Fueling up at Albuquerque - the stop was long enough to grab a burger and get a bunch of snacks from the station.

Far from the longest train I've ever seen or even been on

I kept thinking 'Dukes of Hazzard' when I saw this

Mountains, stormclouds, the usual.

Parked up at Albuquerque (can you tell these shots are NOT in chronological order?)

RAINBOW! Somewhere between Albuquerque and Kansas City.

Elevated vestibule between carriages

It was huge and awesome and full of pretty things. I think.

Ok, ok, they're not THAT fascinating. I just happened to have been excited at the time.

Sunset somewhere in New Mexico?

I like this picture.

This could have been much nicer if I wasn't shooting through grimy train windows. Oh well.

Dusk on the train.

I have plenty of time before we hit New York, and I'm not sleepy. I'm going to try and get more pictures up if AT&T's rubbish 3G co-operates.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I wanted to edit pictures and maybe write another entry between Kansas City and Chicago. Instead, I sacked out.


However, we're in Chicago now and the three and a half hours lost have been made up. The really funny bit is that the train to New York is late anyway.

So, with 3 hours to spare, I wandered the streets of Chicago, always within a block of Union Station. I tried to get some pictures but it was windy and freezing so I don't know if my shaking hands did a good job or a completely lousy one.

From the little of the city that I did see, I definitely want to return and spend some time here. It's a bit like San Francisco in that it feels weird and crowded and old (older than LA anyway). There's a sense of history about the place, along with an air of aimlessness. It's strange and I want more. Perhaps Thanksgiving break next year.

I'm back on the train now but we're stationary at Chicago, two hours late from our scheduled time of departure. I'm not sure what the hold up is, but I'm content to sit back, listen to music and read Sarah's Key.

Kansas City(ish) And a Cock Up

Well that was an interesting morning.

I was woken by an announcement over the train's PA system (isn't that always fun). The guy speaking sounded patronizing and smug, which made what he was saying seem twice as annoying.

We're three and a half hours behind schedule and I'm almost guaranteed to miss my train from Chicago to New York. A combination of slow running, frequent stops to let freight traffic through and a section of broken fucking track (yes, welcome to the first world, folks!) conspired to bring to us lousy news and a 6am wake up call.

Do I care? Frankly, not in the slightest. I will admit to being a little surprised at the... tardiness displayed but I suppose three years in this country have numbed me somewhat to things like sheer ineptitude.

On to better things. I had a glorious breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs and croissant (thank you, Amy) and met a wonderful couple. The husband's a fellow photographer and Flickr-ite! We spoke at length over the meal and after, and he's a fantastically cool guy.

The next stop is Kansas City in a few minutes and I hope to get some shots there - the station is supposed to be one of those beautiful old buildings.

Until next time, au revoir.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

All About The Food

Again, dinner was excellent. This time it was a shrimp-something-or-other with mashed spuds. The description doesn’t do it justice but believe me when I say it was amazing. If nothing else, this journey will have been worth it for the food. Air travel can’t come close.

I’m not tired but there’s no internet and it’s too dark to read, so I think I’m going to get some sleep. I’ll post this when I wake up or if I can get cellular signal before I go to bed.

What Cheek!

Just got mooned by a pair of guys as we were passing through Raton, New Mexico.

Dinner's in about forty minutes, which is good, because I'm ravenous.

Internet is becoming much sketchier as the journey progresses but I'm going to try and dump a couple of pictures on here later tonight.


Oh god, that was surprisingly good. BACON CHEESEBURGER! Nom.

Yeah, I got off at Albuquerque to grab a bite, stretch my legs and get some warmth back in the ol’ body. These train air-conditioners are criminally cold.

After the nomz, I wandered around the train as it was being refueled and inspected to get some pictures. I met the nice New Zealander who I had dinner with last night and we had a short chat about train discomfort and the value of these long stops.


That was odd. As I was writing the bit above, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up expecting a fellow traveler but got a paunch and a badge.

Apparently the Albuquerque Police Department wants to know about my trip as much as I want to talk about it.

Oh well, can’t be too careful around bearded, turbaned tourists traveling alone, can we?


Wow. I was out for a solid 9 hours. I only woke up because I had a terrifying dream about going bald. We’re somewhere between Grants and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque is, apparently, the first ‘major’ stop on this trip and the train will hang around there for about half an hour. I’m kind of looking forward to stretching my legs and getting something to eat there. I slept through breakfast and the lunch options today do not sound appealing – macaroni and cheese, I don’t care whether you call it ‘spicy’ or not, is not a meal, it is a snack for little children when they get back from swimming or sticking their heads down toilets or whatever it is that little children do with their time.

New Mexico is like a wide, rolling plain. You’ll see the odd tree, but I get the impression that most of the vegetation around here got up to about 4 feet off the ground, sighed, and gave up. The rocks then looked at the shrubs, said “You lazy bastards!” and proceeded to jut twenty feet up from everything. Also, everything is yellow and we’ve got dark, cloudy skies overhead, so looking out the window is fantastic.

We’ll get to Albuquerque in an hour or so, I’ll have something more interesting after that, I think.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Short Update

It's 2303 hours and we're stopped at Barstow, CA.

Between LA and here, I learned that trains don't fill up at their origin, they fill up en route. I also met three cool people over dinner -- a dinner that was surprisingly good considering it had been prepared on board.

If the next three days are anything like the past 5-odd hours, this will have been a good decision.

Pictures are hard to get right because windows never co-operate with photography, but the sunset was beautiful and there's certainly something magical about passing silently and swiftly through towns in the middle of the night.

LA to NYC, Three Days

And so it begins. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do one of these travel journals at all, but given that I decided to take a cross-country train on a whim, I reckon I can bang out a couple of words about the trip on a whim too.

I’m making a journey by rail from Los Angeles to New York City via Chicago, to meet my mum and sister both of whom I love and miss very much. And not just mum and Peenu, I’m going to see a f*ck-ton of people I love and haven’t seen in too damned long, so I’m really looking forward to this trip.

Observations so far:

1.    I got weird looks from people all the way from the sidewalk outside Union Station to the ticketing kiosk, and right up to the train itself. I’m still getting weird looks. Yes, lady in Seat 14, this means you. Stop giving me the heebie-jeebies, I’m thinking the same thing you are.

2.    This is going to be a lot more comfortable than I’d prepared for. I have everything I need with me (carry-on allowances are rather generous) and there’s electricity available to charge the gadgetry that I’m reliant on. For internet, I’m tethering my Macbook Pro to my iPad, which will have internet wherever it can grab signal.

3.    My Macbook is a beast. I have a couple of tabs open in Firefox, I’ve got this post going in Word and I’m editing a catalog of 16 RAW files in Lightroom and I have 8 hours of juice left. Awesome doesn’t quite begin to cover it.

4.    Train travel in the USA is clearly not being shunned, despite the system being utterly rubbish. A journey like this anywhere else in the ‘first world’ would be quick and painless by train. I guess with flying as cheap as it is, there’s no incentive to bother with good rail services but when oil prices go skyward (as they’re sure to), Americans will be struggling with overland travel while the rest of the developed world switches seamlessly to rail.

5.    I’m feeling terribly hot.

For the next two days, I will be living with a carriage full of strangers, with nothing but strangers to interact with in the train, at the stations we stop at and at Chicago, where I will have a couple of hours to while away before I go on to New York.

Those who know me will, I think, be as interested as I am to see how I handle the journey ahead of me. Before I left I told the few people who asked why the hell I was doing something this mental that “I just wanted to take a journey instead of flying to my destination” or something trite like that. I think in all honesty, I just wanted to push myself – throw myself into a situation that I’m highly unlikely to be comfortable in. Now why I would do that, I cannot say. Think of it like skydiving, only less awesome and much slower.

And now we’re moving. I’m going to grab my camera and wander around the train.