The Holiday Train Trip

Day 1 - California to Las Vegas

Last night my sister came to get me after I had finished  my packing and headed to her place in the long awaited rain storm. I was bugged at first since we would be driving in it, but realized that this is needed and it put me in the winter mood ready for a calming holiday trip.  We arrived at her place and tightened up her own packing. We couldn't find any food late night so I snacked on one clementine as it was too late anyhow to eat a meal. We tried to find some snacks for the morning. Not realizing we are in for a mess with food on a train and my #gluten free limitations. As my sister packed and searched for things to wear I slowly passed out ready for the 6am alarm.

Morning is here and 6am wake up turns into #instagram #facebook news/friend scanning. Mind not ready to wake up but awake we must. A quick wash, brush and scamper off to gather our things. My sister all showered fresh and then there is me. Ready to go clothes slept in and hair a mess but not bed head clique just plain messy.

After getting our 4 minute #Uber arrival alert we splash in the rain with bags in hand. A couple Karns jokes and we are on our way but one thing is for sure I am damn hungry and the idea of food not happening is now getting to me. Am I way to over planned or been too deep in to the health thing that I can't just let go and eat whatever. Damn right I am too deep and happy to be healthy. So if I seem a bit picky it's cause in my almost 42 years this guy knows his body. My sister and I get to the #emeryville #amtrak station and we have just enough to time to grab another #uber to hit #safeway. My sister ends up waiting for the slowest sandwich maker in the west and I go straight to the #glutenfree section looking for the holy grail, oatmeal to hold off any future hunger. Well let's see I ended up getting split pea soup in a cup, some #larabar bars, a water and #allegra for any upcoming allergy situations. Prepared people, prepared.

Back at the station I grab some tea, hard boiled eggs and 2 bananas, as my sister's eyes roll I make sure we got what we need for this first morning. As I gather our bags and listen to the intercom about luggage I realize what, well my brain strike again. I forgot the damn tripod. Fearing I left it in the Uber my sister Katy lets me know later it was left in her place. Close call but now what? We'll see what happens.

Train moving out as we plop our butts into our seats the fellow passengers start to fill in and the reality sets in. " What the hell were we thinking?" The landscape moving by I hear the whistle and the repetitive engine of the train calling me back to that song by Bjorj from Dancer in the Dark. I look out and see the patterns in the power lines and fences and recall the Michel Gondry video for The Chemical Brothers. I'm taking it in and getting used to the fact that we will be on this train. 1 hour goes by as my sister and I talk and catch up over tea. 2 hours go by more passengers get on as we have to grab our stuff and put it overhead. This train becomes full and it gets that much tighter. The image of train travel I had in my head starts to fade away and the reality smashes to pieces the idea I had. I am no focused on getting to our designation. Only 6 hours to go. Kill me now.

A woman gets on the train with ear two daughters as they sit right next to Katy and I. Our eyes connect and my sister and I know this will be interesting. The mother clearly organized and the girls were about 4 and 6 years old they had matching fuschia rain outfits, matching ponytails and the mother was so on top of it that she rambled on about " ok here is your snacks, here is your juice" It just kept going like a wind storm. In my mind I realize this is the first encounter with colorful detail. My sisters also knew this is pretty hilarious this had to be something she can write about in one of her stand up stories. My mind starts to record. This mother so on top of it that she goes right into a math quiz and it just did not stop. My sister and I felt more stupid by the each math question. I automatically think to download a chess app on my iPad. This made me feel less backwards in the brain. I was never really good at ' the math ', Katy seconds this and we agree to try to just block out the smart noise and focus on a game of chess. In an instant the mother sits right next to me and goes into fractions and quizzes her girls some more.  By this time my area has become smaller and her puffed jacket was right on top of me. I am pretty patient but this was just funny that I just took in as part of the trip. As they left crumbs from the breakfast bar and wet seats were there to stay. Having kids it seems is a job and I can see this lady was all about making her girls ready for school. We talked to her a bit as my sister laughingly said " I got one one of the math questions correct." We couldn't resist.

Come 11 am I am starving so I take down my two hard boiled eggs, and 45 minutes later I am losing it. I am hungry and the eggs didn't take care of it. " It's Wine o'clock " Katy exclaims. what a great idea. It's 11:47am and to that is close enough. I go to the food car with my game face on. I bring along my split pea soup to add hot water and in a weakened state I order @lays potato chips. But I will say this I classed it up with some red wine from @hahnwines. Two plastic cups I make my way back through the wet and windy corridor and I am smiling ear to ear. I need this like you wouldn't believe. Pour in the two plastic cups with some smell of rehydrated ham and peas coming over me. I am refreshed and drunk at the same time. This trip just turned around. I move over to my sisters chair and we watch a movie on my iPad on ear bud each to connect us like conjoined twins. We are coming to our stop having been on the train for 6 hours everyone starts to get in the aisle ready to get off this constraint and we are all just spent. I gather my bag from atop the chairs. My sister is grabbing her things facing away and I sit waiting to leave and just get the hell off. " Merry Christmas" this little boy maybe about 4 years old pops around my right shoulder. biggest smile you ever saw. My heart just melted. I mean I am pretty beat up and not in the Christmas cheer at all. I am actively trying to as I joke restart my cold black heart and let him know it. " Thank you I really needed that." This feeling I am getting thrusts me into the spirit right away like Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. The entire train all hurried and ready to leave just smile and laugh. As we start to leave I tell the father with a nod to him " Happy holidays" and sonner then I can make it past him his son peeks out and tells each person. " Merry Christmas!" Loud, sweet and pure. My heart is started like a defibrillator and I let out a gasp " Ahh" smile grows on my face. This kid is my tiny Tim and wiped my frown clear off.

Finally at the Bakersfield bus station rain and a hurried crowd we land in find our seats and it is the smallest most uncomfortable seating ever. But my joy is still there. I am refreshed. The cramped, cold and wel we have the loudest guy facing us doesn't phase me and almost just becomes a joke. Cell phone music playing the worst rap music loud so we can all hear it in it's glory. My sister not able to take it offers kindly to the guy her headphones. A quiet " no" comes from his blank face. We had another guy who was in the bathroom every 10 minutes standing up and was not at rest at all I felt his pain but I was holding all that in. It was such a thing everyone was on the same mind that this is way to out there and you could feel it. We have been on this bus for about 6 hours and I about had it. I started to write and chatting with my sister was the only saving grace. Bonding with her is the one thing that I wanted from this and it is turning out to be just that. Never have we had this much time to just talk and just be. It is a gift that I thought about but I am cherishing. But like Katy jokes we'll see if we kill each other but so far so good we are on this trip together. Ending our trip we met a lady sitting next to us with her nephew  who was 7 years old. One of the most well mannered and friendly kid. We chatted here and there as I tried to help them with her iPad wifi connection. As we are pulling into Vegas. We learn she is a teacher and she is raising her nephew. The guy had left who was rap happy. And we were free to talk to this sweet woman about the school system and how many kids are on meds and behavioral issues. We wish her a Happy holidays and my mother's husband my step father Hakan is there in all his Swedish glow. " Well hello" we finally arrived in Downtown Main Street Grey hound bus station. One full day of travel. 

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