Author: Kyle Stark
Going out to San Francisco, I wasn’t really thinking about finding a job, to be honest. It was like I told my friend on the phone, if I thought about getting a job, and the cost of living, there was a possibility of apprehension, and inaction, which I wasn’t going to risk, so I didn’t think about it. I did wind up getting a job, but as for the train ride, I was just enjoying the train ride. Taking the Amtrak is a phenomenal experience. Or, it was for me at least.
You’re allowed to bring food on the train, which I’d recommend because the food car is so-so and pretty overpriced. I’d also recommend bringing a blanket, or even just layers, which is what I wound up improvising with. At night, I swear, the temperature is kept at like 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They sell blankets on the train, but those also seemed so-so (very thin) and overpriced.
Otherwise, the first thing you should do after getting settled into your seat is to check out the sight-seeing car. Over 80% of the wall is a window (starting from shin level and going up to the air vent strip on the ceiling) and the car itself is set up like a lounge.
There’s generally always seats, but when you’re about to go into a state like Colorado, and into the Rockies, it gets pretty packed, so, try to get a seat a couple of hours before. Even if you have to stand, it’s 80% windows. You’ll get a view.
That’s where I was the majority of the time. It was a good day or so before we got through the plains of Iowa and Nebraska, and through eastern Colorado. By the time we went into Denver and the Rockies, I was more than happy with what I paid for in regards to the train ticket.
There’s no knowledge of freedom without witnessing something that is purely beyond man’s reach. The Rockies are eons beyond man’s reach. I was in one of Mother Nature’s pieces of the galaxy, and I wanted to roam so abysmally like the pines until I found the tree of my life that’d been looking high and low for me. I looked up, and up, and up, until the tree lines ended and appeared like Mother Nature’s angels carrying the peaks of one of God’s greatest architectural achievements: the mountains, the spine, the perspective of something greater than me, greater than man, and a formidable object to the forces of the universe. If the atmosphere opens up, and the earth set on fire and vaporized every living and non-living thing, what would be the last piece of God to go? If a black hole opened, how long would it take for it to swallow the Rockies whole? I was a spectator of a universal competitor.
We went through the Rockies, past the Great Salt Lake, and it was another day or so before we made our “15-minute fresh air break” in Reno, Nevada, “The Biggest Little City in the World.”
The Amtrak station in Reno was right downtown. A lot of people will make stops in cities like Denver and Reno on the way out west. I was only passing through, and the only thing I saw was the glamorous, glimmering red and yellow Reno Arch (but I was there before noon so it wasn’t really glimmering, or glamorous).
I was only ten minutes away from Cali.
When we passed the state line, I raised my arms. I finally made it. I’d had dreams about going to California, and nightmares that I’d never go to California. We all had dreams about going to California.
It wasn’t a dream anymore.
One of the very first sights of California I had was on the train going over Donner Lake which sat between the gliding, rising hills and far mountains like a gateway to heaven. It wasn’t a dream anymore.
Kyle Stark is a cultural fiction and travel writer from the Chicagoland area, and he has also spent time living in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest.
He published his first book “Five Stories and Nine Poems” on Amazon.com in November, 2016, also available to Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. He is currently studying the world of Islam. This includes Islamic history, faith, figures, culture, customs, government, law, society, as well as current political and social issues. See more from Kyle at www.kylestark.net.