Thursday, August 5, 2010

Signing off

8-5-10: Southeast of La Cross, Wisconsin in an Amtrak Superliner bound for Chicago.

Well, I this is it. In another 4 hours I’m be in the Chicago station with a 3-4 hr layover for my Clev bound train. Can’t say that this has been a blast on the train, especially at night – not like I remembered some 20 yrs ago when I could just snatch a bulkhead seat and then sleep on the floor at night. Not on this train anyway. The bulkhead seats are reserved for parities of two. So I had to do a regular seat. Now they’re much bigger than airline seats, but sleeping in them – forget it. Especially when the train was full last night and I had someone next to me. It was just torture plain and simple. I got in every contorted position possible, and maybe, just maybe snagged 3 or so hours of total sleep. I even imbibed in some of my aged bourbon whiskey to kind of help the effect of slumber, but to no avail.

So really, that totally sucked, the sleep part. But what was interesting was going through Montana and North Dakota yesterday and seeing the stretches of road I rode on, and even going through some of the towns that I had stopped over at – brought back a lot of good memories. As we jammed through Montana I just couldn’t help but think back to all those ass-kicking days in that state, and the miles of nothingness. I even heard people on the train comment on how vast and wide that place is. It’s like a wide screen cinema in front of you, and it just wraps around every part of your senses.

I ended up not doing the diner car last night – just too much BS with dinner reservations, and then you kind of have to eat when they want to fit you in. I could have gotten in at like 5 pm, but I was in no mood to eat that early. So I eventually went to the café car and got a sub and a ham sandwich, both of which were pretty lousy. Thankfully I had brought a small arsenal of food on board, in addition to my alcohol, so I didn’t need to order but that one meal for 2 straight days of training across the country. This stuff was like the junk you buy in a convenient food store and pop in the micro wave. So I also got a couple of beers at the café and then went back to eat. So that was my grand dining experience.

Also steered clear of the observation car due to the converging of humanity up there to the point to where it was just chaos. Felt much better in my little cocoon coach seat. Pulled out my “stash” around 10 PM and have a couple of small waterbottles of whiskey. Woke up this morning feeling like I was a participant of some kind of grad student sleep deprivation study – on day two. Just pathetic feeling all the way around. Did like a mini “marine shower” down in the handicapped bathroom where I did just enough to get my face, pits and arms and hands swabbed clean for the good morning call. Woke up just around Fargo, ND, and finally became human around St. Paul MN. Did some skyping and eating my breakfast bars from the food stash, and then went to the café for some coffee. At least the coffee is quality!

We crossed the Mississippi River from Minnesota into Wisconsin, and I’ll tell you, that river is massive. I remember when I crossed it way the hell up in Northern MN, and it was just about the size of a creek. On the train, back there at the border, seemed like a mile wide! Train just now stopped at Tomah, WI, and I’m kind of running out of stuff here to say. I’m tired. My ass is some sort of sore from sitting. And I’m way to anxious to get the hell done with this all. The time is right to end.

So I just want to thank everyone for checking out the blogsite and sending me words of encouragement every now and then. I always felt like you were this invisible companion out there with me. This has been a dynamite trip, and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to do it. So until next year, whatever that endeavor that will be, I’m going to sign out for 2010 and say: All the best; have a great year; and………..I’m OUT!............Pete

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