HOW SOCIAL MEDIA REALLY CHANGED THE TRIP, i.e., So much of the time I was looking at the scenery from the train not with my eyes, but as it looked through the lens of my smartphone (for this trip, that was the Samsung Galaxy 3, way out of date, but that’s another story). It was almost as if I didn’t post it, it wasn’t valid or wasn’t worth looking at.
Sunday April 23. The day I left. Or, the evening I left. Nice thing, the Sunset Limited leaves Los Angeles on its eastward journey at 10 p.m. This is civilized. This gives you all day, literally, to pack and get downtown to the station. And, even better, when I got there, they told me the train was already available to board. So there it was, no hassle, no lines, relaxed and likely a half hour ahead of departure time. Here’s a picture from the train while it was waiting to depart Union Station in Los Angeles.
So, as you can see, it was dark.
It was a dark but clean train. The photo belies that it was surprisingly full — did I say I was in coach? Well, I was, Yes I was — all the passes are for coach. If you want to upgrade to a roomette you can, but it’s not included so you have to pay for it. I did, later in the trip, so see further dispatch posts (look for the Empire Builder).
I sat next to a nervous anxious woman, close to my age, who was visiting her son in Tucson. I think she said she was going to her grandson’s graduation from high school? Seemed kind of early in the year for that, but it’s what I remember. She’s surprisingly candid to me, a total stranger. Maybe this is what comes in the dark as we are propelled hypnotically, rhythmically down the tracks toward the east. She fears there’s a family rift there, but wants to be closer to them. I’m not much help; I offer the usual bromides of “family things can be difficult, I know.” She said she lived in South Pasadena. I say I lived in the valley but nothing beyond that; I didn’t want to really engage her in conversation because she seemed a bit dizzy and who knows what could come of that.
She did not sleep well on the train either (I was a wide awake not-happy camper) and she sighed a lot. Nervous, sad and anxious! When we got to Tucson in the early morning (but late enough to be light out) she almost missed her stop because she didn’t know it was Tucson, even though the announcement said it was, multiple times, and of course there were signs at the depot if you just looked out the window. I finally reminded her: “Didn’t you say you were going to Tucson? We’re here.”
April 24, Monday. On the train roughly from Tucson to Del Rio, Texas. Author notes: I’m not a happy camper as I really can’t sleep on the train. I’m in coach, remember, with the lady that’s fretting.
At Tucson after the lady gets off, and a young guy gets on and has the seat next to me. Weird kind of Mohawk he’s got. Likely early 30s, tattoos, average-looking. I’m thinking ex-con or something but probably just not from a huge city somewhere. BUT — When I got back from the lounge car he had taken my window seat AND he was using my pillow, the pillow that I bought as a camping accessory decades ago which is inflatable. I asked for it back (the pillow that is, not the seat, I moved to an empty seat as there were lots) his excuse was he thought maybe the pillow “was something they gave out on the train.” Um, not likely, not in this universe.
Yet here I had some fun taking videos of the border wall/fence/whatever in El Paso and again as we sped through Marfa, TX, setting for such movies/tv as Giant, The Last Picture Show, and I Love Dick.
Tuesday, April 25
Author note: Wishing the train trip to NOLA was over. It’s a two-day train ride. My ass hurts, my back hurts, my sciatica is acting up and there’s literally no place on this train where I can stretch.
Long layover in San Antonio with no announcements as to why we’re delayed, although I did ask a conductor and got an answer right away: Tech problems with the toilets, he tells me! We certainly do want them operational.
My mind wanders to sexual realm: Has anyone on the train been fuckable in a traditional sense, like from my past sex life? Why yes — there was kind of a jock/college type on for part of the initial journey. I think he got off at Tucson, probably a U of A student. (As a matter of fact, a tremendous amount of the train pop got off at Tucson.) That day (Monday) was a week after Easter so maybe they were coming back from break? Anyway, he possessed that young manly beauty where it’s effortless, and this guy seemed self-effacing, so that he didn’t even realize how attractive (and really, stunning) he was to an older gay man like me. Or maybe he does, who knows? We had no interaction. We did not exchange looks. I have no reason to think he was either gay or straight or anything.
One thing definitely different on this trip (than the last train ride, I guess) is I’m more invisible. I feel this. There is less slack given to an older person, and not just in the sexual realm but everywhere. People are just not willing to put up with older people and I can really feel a difference, although it’s not like I’m saying it’s terrible, it’s just different. Cuteness won’t get you anywhere, i.e., because you’re no longer cute and they don’t look at you the way they used to. Or maybe it’s just that I’m crabby. From lack of sleep?
Question for the blogger: When was the last time I was actually cruised, as in real life, and not on an “app?” I will have to think about that one.
But I did take some stills, so here’s a few for you.