Amtrak from Sacramento to Salt Lake City

1/5/09
Leaving Sacramento it was foggy and cold. The train was more than an our late. On the platform there were odd travelers going to Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno and everywhere in between. Notable travelers were a confused Russian family, a group of older alcoholics on their way to Reno, and a pretty girl talking on her phone.

One of the older drinkers, who were really pretty nice friendly people about to go on a little vacation, came up to me and told me I had something white on my coat and proceeded to wipe it off. I think it was bird poo. It was nice of her since it was on my back and I couldn’t see it. Who knows though, maybe there was nothing there and she simply wanted to pad over in her little leather moccasins and rub my back. Either way, it was nice.

Boarding the train I found myself in a car almost completely abandoned except for an incredibly beautiful girl in a red coat who I nicknamed Snow White almost at once. Little did I know it was actually Agent 231, code name, Milk Maid and that she was on the train to provide me with further instructions from Big Barry Obama.

After exchanging the codewords and the secret agent handshake, we rode the train through some of the most beautifully rugged country I have ever seen. Her cover story was that she was attending the DLI in Monteray and studying Arabic. Within ‘the story’ she is undergoing linguist training, is in the US Navy and has three young daughters in Florida. She had me convinced until she told me about the daughters…that just seemed way too hard to believe.

We arrived in Reno about sunset. It got dark quickly on the train and Agent 231 went to sleep. At this point I encountered another operative, codename “Woodpecker” and we proceeded to enjoy the dark train ride together. Finally, fatigue hit me and I retreated to my reclining seat in order to catch a little shut-eye before arriving in Salt Lake City at 5 am or so.

Definitely the best train ride I’ve had. It will be hard to top, if not impossible.

Arriving in Salt Lake City, I caught the Utah Light Rail to Ogden for $6. It was a very comfortable 45 minute ride. UTA provides free wifi, plugs for laptops (unlike Amtrak so far) and very comfortable seating and tables.

Once arriving in Ogden, I was surprised to see so many bums in such a beautiful area at 6am. Ogden, I am told, is a very seeded out town surrounded by some of the most beautiful places in the United States. Cool old brick buildings, rail cars, and snow covered majestic peaks everywhere you look.

My brother came to pick me up and the next few days were spent with him and his family. The whole reason I came to Utah in the first place rather than going along the southern route was because I wanted to spend time with him, his wife, and his four awesome children. Our mom and step dad were also visiting. I had hoped that they might want to watch the kids one day so that my brother, his wife, and I could catch up and spend some adult time together, but I guess it never occurred to my mom. I also got to hang out with my cousins and their mother. It was just sort of an additional thing that everyone else was here besides my brother, but it was nice to see them after not having done so for ten or twenty years. It will be nice to see them again in another ten or twenty.
I love my family, but aside from my brother and sister and their families, I don’t much like to spend a lot of time with them. I felt a little like the rest of the family was a hazard to be navigated so that I could hang out with my brother, his wife, and their kids. Sort of like paying a toll to the guy under the bridge.

My mom left the day before I did and that’s what gave me and the kids a chance to make Liberty Hole. We did the whole thing from start to finish in about five hours. We sat down, conceptualized the story and characters, wrote the script, scouted locations, found costumes, and shot it. They were a great crew to work with. I’m awfully proud that they wrote just about every line, every twist, and every act. Pretty cool. We burned a DVD and premiered it for my bro and his wife.

This morning I left Ogden on the UTA and rode into Salt Lake City where I had to search forever to find a coffee shop so I could sit and write all of this. And here I am now, having to pee, but glad to be back on the road. I’m supposed to surf a couch tonight but I am considering just cruising coffee joints since my train leaves at 4 am tomorrow.