I really should have taken more photos in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. There’s an unassuming beauty to the Midwest that is harder to capture but is brilliant nonetheless.
Anyway, instead I caught up on sleep, reading and tatting. I plowed through Albert Camus’ The Stranger and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain, two classics I should have read long ago and which Joe lent me for the trip. Five stars to each.
Managing to snag a spot in the popular observation car for portions of the winding trek through the Rockies, I had my camera at the ready more often during this section of the trip.
Two volunteer tour guides (affiliated with the National Park Service) provided a special treat from Denver to Grand Junction, sharing their knowledge of high points along the route over the intercom and via objects we could touch such as pine-beetled wood.
The Rockies never get old, even if you lived in their front yard (the Front Range) for a decade and a half or so.
Maybe the coolest thing was the way the California Zephyr seemed to follow alongside the South Boulder Creek and then the Colorado River (after crossing the continental divide) the whole time.
I guess I don’t know for sure that it was the whole time – and maybe that’s not particularly remarkable, anyway – but there’s just something about that that’s calming, deep. Perhaps it’s the lack of a need to reinvent the wheel, that the river knows the best way through.
This nearness to the whitewater also meant upwards of 20 moonings by river rafters (a fellow passenger was keeping a tally) – but alas I did not attempt to capture any of those moments.
No offense to the mountains, the streams, the idyllic towns – but my favorite photo during the hours in my old home state is probably this one (above), from the confines of the lower-level café car while stopped in Grand Junction.
That’s where the kindly tour guides bid us farewell – but the gorgeous, stunning scenery didn’t end there on the Western Slope. Utah was striking along the rails as well. As one fellow passenger described it, the Utah landscape seemed very “layered.”
The morning after deboarding the train in Salt Lake City (though I’d love to take it all the way to San Francisco, sometime!), I rented a car for the last few hours of the trip to my friend’s wedding in Victor, Idaho. As rain clouds rolled in midday, the combination of sky and landscape was again breathtaking – and surprisingly colorful.
These Idaho shots are looking mostly eastward, toward the Tetons and Yellowstone, if I’m not mistaken.
Despite hardly ever driving a car these days, I’m partial to rearview-mirror photographs, and I like how this one (above) turned out.
The rain stopped just in time for my friend’s wedding ceremony at a scenic ranch venue. The celebration couldn’t have been lovelier, from the parade of cowgirl-booted, pint-sized flower girls to the cozy cocktail hour complete with a fireplace and the smell of fresh rain.
Something about the juxtaposition of the deejay’s setup for the dance and the horses hanging out just behind the shindig made me chuckle.
All too soon it was time to head home. But not before hanging out in Salt Lake City on a Sunday, which, FYI, is maybe not the best plan. Since the downtown Enterprise closed at 4 p.m. and the daily train didn’t depart until the middle of the night, I had envisioned a cool, car-free, play-it-by-ear half day in the city. Let’s just say that’s a better plan if most places (and transit!) in said city aren’t shut down on Sundays.
On the up side, the temple grounds were open and busy and photogenic. I also eventually spotted a Barnes and Noble and a showing of Ant-Man, which carried me through the evening. The movie was quite fun, although I think at that point I was most excited about setting down my duffel bag for two hours or so.
The trip home on the train was enjoyable as well. I aspire to one day invest in a sleeper car, however. Access to a shower and a less-public bathroom sound like true luxury right about now, as I type away here in coach. :) So does home.