after my experience taking the train to southern california and back, i cannot recommend transit by rail highly enough. i loved it i loved it i loved it. the ride down to l.a. took 12.5 hours, so i anticipated antsyness and brought along a lot of reading material, but when we pulled into union station around midnight i just wished i had more time on the coast starlight, train #1111.
reasons why i fell in love with train travel:
- no baggage weight limits or costs, no security screenings, lots of storage area for bags
- toooons of legroom, foot rests, calf rests, head rests, armrests…
- outlets to charge my electronics
- the practically floor to ceiling windows in the scenic lounge car
- amazing views (the way down the main scenery was incredible canyons that we got to right at golden hour)
- train conductors in uniform walking down the aisles (and 2/3 of those i saw had white moustaches)
- the conductor making legitimately cool announcements (“we are now passing through the artichoke capital of california” … “the garlic capital of the world – can you smell that?” … “the strawberry capital of the country!” … “and now we will experience a full solar eclipse” – as we go through a tunnel)
- the romantic, nostalgic feeling of it all
- the cafe downstairs from the scenic lounge, and the dining car (where i had an amazing dinner!)
- the sense of community and camaraderie – and meeting all kinds of people (in the dining car they practice “community dining,” which means if you are traveling alone you sure as heck aren’t eating alone, and i met the most amazing three women at my table; later on i had a nice long chat with a little-bit-drunk man who taught me a thing or two about politics, asked me some questions about religion, and then proceeded to try to give me a family heirloom that he carries with him wherever he goes, you know, as a token of our fast friendship)
- the whistle and the “all aboard!”
- the (corny but true) joy of the journey
yep, after those 12.5 hours, i was thoroughly sold on train travel.
the way home was equally as delightful, but broken up a little since i stopped over to spent a night in santa barbara. since the daylight hours were different, i got to see a whole other world while traveling north than i did while traveling south. first, we passed right by and through downtown l.a. …
… and then before too long the ocean filled up the windows. the views were seriously breathtaking.
my 24 hours in santa barbara were absolutely lovely, through and through. i loved seeing my mission companion sister jenks and reminiscing on many miracles, excruciatingly hard times and really funny moments we shared serving together. this girl is a remarkable individual, and one of the most genuinely wonderful people i know. as soon as we met up, she took me to a butterfly preserve right by the ocean where we saw thousands of monarchs – magical! and then we went out on the bluffs to watch the sunset.
it was one of those times when you say to yourself – “wait, is this real? this can’t possibly be real.” beauty so beautiful it feels like it’s from a different world. so unjustified by the iphone pictures…
while sarah (as they call her) went to work the next morning, i got to explore sb a little. i loved walking along east beach, eating breakfast at a seaside diner, driving through the hills and gasping to myself at the perfect views, and checking out the santa barbara mission. it couldn’t have been a more gorgeous day.
santa barbara has a such a great feel about it. quaint, warm, endearing.
after lunch with sarah, it was back to the train, and for the rest of the sunny of that day we winded right along the coast, night coming just as we headed a bit inland.
the whole two weeks in southern california and in transit just felt like such an authentic california adventure. i really loved riding the train.
p.s. (once again) this post is inspired by this post (and the idea to take a train in the first place was inspired by that girl). keri. is. rad.