Please Look After This Bear

amtrak residency, day 8, 3/20/15.

Amtrak Residency
Day 8
20150320_153251I have slingshotted around San Francisco and am now hurtling back toward the East Coast, back on the California Zephyr at 9:10am this morning to cross through now-familiar terrain but staying on the opposite side of the train as much as possible to take in a different view:

Donner Lake in Tahoe National Forest, named after the doomed Donner Party. It happened here.












IMG_7318At lunchtime I enjoyed chatting with Zachary Knighton, a northern California glass artist (Zookeeper Glass Wurx, Instagram: @zookeeperglass).  We had a high-flying conversation about my recent stay in Colorado.


We were soon joined by Bart, a former long distance runner from South Jersey who’d trained to be a Olympian long distance runner some 30 years ago, came to San Jose State University, never left, and was now a contented, retired realtor in his 60s who gave us a quick lesson on the housing market (The bank doesn’t own your house; a nameless investor in Saudi Arabia owns it. When you fall behind in your mortgage payments the bank doesn’t want to work with you because they can write off the value of your house as a business loss.  Truth? Conspiracy theory? You tell me).

When we stopped in Reno I quickly hopped off to shoot a man just to watch him die, heard the whistle blowing, hung my head and cried, got back on the train and rolled on eastward.

During the intervening hours I wrote, read, wrote, read and wrote. At dinner I had an intense conversation with a guy named Cory, a self-described “bean counter” from Chicago who set me straight on the true story of Marie Antoinette, not the satirical Marie Antoinette I’m going to see at the Steppenwolf Theatre when I get to Chicago. We also discussed William Powell, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, EM Forster and Graham Greene. By the time we cleared out I’m sure the waitress was more than ready for us to shut up and leave.

Next time I come this way it’ll definitely be with the family plus our camping and fishing gear. I’m glad I chose this route. My purpose was to select the part of the country with which I’m least familiar, and I’m so happy I did that.

Pitch black bedtime and
crossing through Nevada some-
where west of Elko.

My 4-year-old son slipped one of his stuffed animals in my luggage so I wouldn’t have to sleep alone at night. Paddington Bear has become my mascot and helps me find my room as they all look identical. Appropriate that my son chose a bear known for traveling.