|Beautiful Station, Ugly Hiker.|
Ladies and gentleman.. We're going to pull off into a siding juuuussst up ahead.. Looks like some debris may be causing a sliiight danger... Aaannnyyywayy.... Our conductor will be removing that in a few short minutes and we'll just be... yep.. getting on our way.. next stop, San Luis Obispo!
|The West is the Best. -Jim Morrison|
Much more likely is that the overhead voice will be the harbinger of news that either makes no difference to anything whatsoever, or news that is decidedly negative. This last announcement clearly falls into the latter category.
I'm no rookie at the Amtrak game. I once spent 127 hours on an ill-fated train I boarded in San Antonio bound for LA. That route is only supposed to take 33 hours. I could go into the details, but you already know the story. Just imagine every train you've ever been on and all the different excuses you were given for the delays. Now multiply them by a factor of 10, add some 109° summer heat and throw in two lost bags, neither of which were ever recovered, just for good measure.
This country likes to talk a big a game about its railroading history, but those days are long gone. That train averaged 13 miles an hour, in 1999. From the looks of things Amtrak hasn't improved much since. I suspect Train 14's pace could be equally dismal.
|.....I can do this....|
I look around and see Jimmy, a "down" (his description, not mine) Samoan kid I had made friends with back at the Santa Barbara stop. He shrugs his shoulders and makes a disturbing grimace. He's thinking the same thing I am. This little delay is going be longer than a "few short minutes." I'm guessing more like an hour. San Luis Obispo was so damned close...
I've never been to San Luis Obispo but I'll tell you what.... I love that town.
Two words. Crew change.
The Amtrak staff that's been lording over the train since I boarded back in LA is all done for the day.
It's time to get some fresh blood up in here.
An Amtrak crew change takes 6 minutes.
If he timed it right, an individual could potentially run off the train, out of the station, down the street, and into Gus' Grocery, a local hoagie shop that doubles as the neighborhood market, according to Google Maps. That individual could then purchase a few "key items" before sprinting back on the train and perhaps....if he did it all fast enough, he might even have time to enjoy the sweet burn of a finely crafted menthol cigarette.
I've double checked the route with Google Maps. I can do this.
San Luis Obispo.
The city of dreams....
My dream right now is a bottle of whiskey and a full pack of smokes. I'm settling in for whatever Amtrak wants to throw at me.
Jimmy and I are in it for the long haul. We're both heading to Seattle; me to find the passage north to Manning Park in Canada and begin the great SoBo (southbound) epic that is my 2016 Pacific Crest Trail. Him to take over a small diner he's inherited from his uncle.
Mine is the more enviable task surely.
I haven't much of a plan. I never wanted one. People plan too much and learn too little. Especially on travels and trips. We plan out what we're going to do in half-day increments like: morning -this.
afternoon - that. We do this to get that warm fuzzy "in contol" feeling. It also ensures that we don't waste time, arguably our most valuable commodity.
I'm the complete opposite. I toss together a vague outline of what I want to do and how I'll do it, deliberately downplaying inevitable obstacles and ignoring details as much as possible. You could say I'm the "Donald Trump" of the hiking world.
I prefer to work like this.
It's an adventure not a chore.
|The Golden Rolling Hills|
But then it's that sort of attitude that disallowed me from completing the PCT last year. I'm aware of it. I also worked my ass off for the last 6 months to save up the money I would need to do this, and I don't intend to do it with anyone's attitude but my own.
So screw it.
Seattle, here I come. I have no plan, no-one meeting me, and no working knowledge of the city itself or the state of Washington as a whole.
According to Amtrak I arrive at 10pm (that means 4am, for any noobs).
Just as soon as I sprint through San Luis Obispo and get my whiskey and smokes.
Oh and welcome back to my blog by the way.
|As Above So Below|