Day 3 of being on a train. We wake up and we are at the end of Nebraska. I slept through most of the State- and from what I was told, there really isn’t much to see. Soon we are getting to Denver, CO- which from what everyone says is where the real beauty begins.
Something that I have been realizing on the train is that time and space stop having significance. You lose the sense of time, mostly because you don’t need to go anywhere or do anything. (I have been waking up around 630, got dressed, brushed my teeth, ate some breakfast, and then would head out to the observation car). Also space stops having meaning. Most of the time (well, until you get to a station stop) you don’t necessarily know where you are. You might be able to guess what State based on where we just stopped, but there aren’t signs along the way that tell you that you have crossed the border. (Although at times the conductors will tell you).
Denver was the first time that I got out of the train. We had about 10 minutes, so I figured why not. I learned (TRAIN TIP) whenever there is a smoking/fresh air stop that you should go outside. There might not be anything to do, but it does help with feeling stuck in a metal box for a few days.
Everyone was right- Colorado is where it starts to get beautiful. The mountains, the water, the trees. So often I was looking out the window in utter amazement. There are no words for the vast beauty that is out there (and that goes for a lot of the places that we passed through).
In Colorado through the hills there are a lot of tunnels (14 if I am correct). When going through a tunnel everything goes black and even a bit colder (there isn’t the sun shining through the window). And then a minute or two later it is bright and sunny and seeing one of the most amazing views. It made me think that the tunnels felt like blinking. You close your eyes and it is dark, and a second later you are seeing something so beautiful and colorful.
There were a lot of people on the Colorado River (rafting, fishing, tubing). Something that I found funny (and I am assuming is something that is done), is that along the river people would moon the train. Now this wasn’t teenagers this was everyone. There were families out on the beach, and the entire family (little kids included) would turn around and moon the train. I guess every place has their customs.
Right before heading into Utah, we had a long stop (like 30 minutes) at Union Depot, Colorado. It was the first place that we have been that has a very tiny (very tiny) shop. But there you can get snacks, fruit, and souvenirs. They rely on the once a day California Zephyr. (I learned we were really on time, and that the owners were not used to that actually happening). There was nothing else around. The rest of the station was quiet and closed. Even the restaurant that was attached to the station wasn’t open.
Surprisingly (apparently Amtrak is known for being very late), we got to Salt Lake City, Utah an HOUR early! So we had an hour to just hang out. unfortunately it was at 10pm, so there really wasn’t much to see or do (although I do have friends who took the risk and took the train to the city center, took a picture, and luckily made it back with 5 minutes to spare). From what I could see from the train station, it seemed like a pretty city.
It was this day that a group of us became friends. Somehow about 5 of us started to hang out. I was from Israel, there was the guy from Indiana, the children’s author from California, a jazz musician from Australia, and a glass blower from Boston- and we just started to hang out. We started to share meals together. sit together in the car. Play board games (Sushi Go is actually a really fun game- or maybe it is just when you are with fun people, as is Farkle). In a way, if you looked at us from the outside, you would have assumed that we came onto the train together. It was really amazing how a bunch of strangers, travelling on a train together could become friends.
I met some other interesting people this time around. There was a Navy Vet sitting behind me. He was travelling to Nevada to help his grand-daughter move to Michigan (he would be making the drive the next day). Before he got off the train he found our group and told us to travel the world. But make sure that we speak slowly and clearly (if we are speaking in English), and to remember to haggle that way people won’t think us as spoiled Americans.
I was wearing an Indian dress that I got in Israel that day. There was an old Indian man who noticed, and I told him that I got it from Israel. He got very excited, and showed be a baseball card with a picture of an old man, and it said that he was from Nehariya. Both men were in Iowa (why Iowa, I don’t know), for a month-long meditation retreat. The guy from Nehariya is a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who apparently still travels for meditation retreats. The Indian man has been living in Manchester, UK for the past number of years, and was in the US both for the meditation retreat, as well as to see some family.
Something that I have noticed is that people are friendlier on trains then on planes. It is very socially acceptable to talk to the people sitting around you- both in your car (I guess you might be sitting next to a person for 50 hours so it would be weirder not to say anything) and the people in the observation car. You just sit with people and you can start off a conversation. Or conversations are happening around you, and you chime in.
States Visited: Colorado, Utah