Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blood on the tracks. Alas, the rest of the trip is quite boring.

Friday, December 31, 2010

I beg to differ.

Woke up early to confirm my bus to Salt Lake City had resumed after being canceled the day before due to a winter storm closing down Interstate 15 through Utah.

Afterward I settled for a breakfast of lowered expectations at the Golden Grille inside the Gold Spike. Two eggs over-easy with barely-browned shredded potatoes, and two puny, limp shreds of bacon. Still, it did the trick. And the marble rye toast wasn't half bad.

Go Greyhound and leave the stupidity to us. Six minutes after our scheduled departure time they announce that we have no driver for the bus to Salt Lake City. Fifteen minutes later we have a driver. Not just one, but two more along for the ride as well.

Normally I don't sit in the back of the bus, but on this day I made an exception. It was a good call as the bus filled up a bit.

Some deadbeat dad's brat came rolling back and plopped a Fisher-Price Little People aircraft carrier down on the seat next to me. I firmly insisted that he should go sit by his parent, instead of three rows back with a total stranger who could easily take him into the restroom for what would culminate in a life-long psychological disorder.

Finally. Leaving. Las Vegas.

Greyhound driver pulls over and drops a foul one in the bus toilet. What happens in Vegas strays from Vegas.

A thirty minute break for lunch at the McDonald's in St. George? No thanks. Let's go!

Bus filled up at St. George, but I still have a seat separating me from fellow passenger. The good news is that he's the one sitting next to the toilet.

Cove Fort gas station. A good place to stretch your legs and pass gas.

Pulled into the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub just before 6 pm, and quickly I caught the first available TRAX light rail to Gallivan Plaza. I disembarked and walked the block to Cheers To You, a cozy downtown bar I came upon the last time I passed through town [see blog post].

Quaffed a large mug of Trader IPA, with a pizza from Eva next door. The combo of both plus being awake since four in the morning wiped me out. Further slaked my thirst with pints of iced water with a Jameson on the side.

You know Ring Pops? A couple of gals bellied up to the bar sporting Cock Pops. Suck on that!

Couldn't keep my eyes open at the bar. And barkeeps tend to frown on customers going on the nod. So with snow falling down upon the lively New Year’s Eve scene downtown, I went back to the Intermodal Hub station until the adjacent Amtrak station opened up at ten.

At the Salt Lake City Amtrak station for the duration. The place is way too small for the volume of people who go through here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

While folks back back in Iowa rang in the New Year, I watched the antics of logistically challenged parents and their hyper offspring. After the westbound passengers vacate the station I accomplish my New Year's resolution with a hearty defecation.

At the train station a kid falls to the floor, "I'm dead!" Grandmother responds, "Be dead in the chair."

After running on time all the way from California, the eastbound California Zephyr encounters a broken rail a half-hour outside of Salt Lake City.

After a sleepless night spent in the Amtrak station, I finally board the train after six in the morning, over three hours late. Unfortunately my sleeper is right next to a family bedroom with an exceptionally noisy family.

Price River Canyon, Utah. Got an hour's sleep after breakfast. The sounds of hell-spawn crotch-fruit permeated the sleeper walls. My room, No. 13, was unlucky indeed.

Our train hit a cow. Ow! Now: We are stuck in the middle of the snowy landscape of Eastern Utah while the crew inspects the length of the train, looking for undone air hoses and pieces of meat.

When Amtrak comes face to face, moving from place to place. With a different breed of bovine, whose skins are coal or ermine… They quick as winking chop it into beefsteak tartare.
~ With apologies to Bertolt Brecht

Interestingly I was in the dining car eating an Angus burger when the train ran over the cow. Said cow uncoupled ten hoses. The conductor said in thirty years on the rails he'd never seen such a mess.

Train further delayed in Silt, Colorado, while we waited for a westbound Amtrak to pass. Been mostly sleeping through Colorado, with breaks for eating. So exciting!

Good thing I had a sleeper. Sixty passengers boarded in Glenwood Springs.

Once on our way again the conductor said to new passengers that we hit some cattle. Notice the plural. Not cow. CATTLE! That explains the forty minutes needed to inspect the length of the train.

Sunday, January 2

Left Denver four hours, fifteen minutes late.

Sunrise in Nebraska. Nebraska… shit; I'm still only in Nebraska… Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in Iowa. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Huskers squat in the bush, they get stronger.
~ With apologies to Martin Sheen

Finally reached my limit. No lunch, even if I paid for it, is worth the communal seating experience Amtrak foists upon you. Panic attack in dining car. Run away! Run away!

Arrived in Ottumwa early in the afternoon only to vacate station while station employee takes a break. So I retired to the Tom Tom Tap for coffee and Jameson.

Ottumwa. With a station so nice, the toilet does a courtesy flush for you.

Finally home around seven at night. To sleep on my couch, not on a train or bus seat. To listen to my fan, not the drone of diesel engine nor rolling of steel wheels.

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