July 29, 2013

Circum-training the American West: part 1, guest post by abigailmm


It’s not Machu Picchu at dawn, and it’s for sure not CathyR’s gorgeous pictures of Venice. But they do say quantity is its own form of quality, and when you have travelled over 6000 miles by train, you have seen a heck of a lot of scenery. Even if the way you have to share most of it is with pictures taken through a train window with a cell phone.

For ten years, since I had to cancel attendance at my 30th college reunion at the very last second, I have been planning to make the 40th. Then I broke my ankle last year. Also my family ataxia*, which I had been hoping was not in my genes, showed up after all. So getting to Pomona was looking a bit dicey. However, I ascertained that a 15-day Amtrak rail pass was affordable, meaning airports and rental cars could be avoided. And as the registration deadline approached, I went for it.

The Amtrak Texas Eagle leaves Dallas at noon, and makes slow progress south. Unlike in days of yore, the passenger train has no priority, and waits any time the freight schedule has a hiccup. Eventually, in the middle of the night in San Antonio, it hooks up with the Sunset Limited out of New Orleans and proceeds west across west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, to get to Los Angeles at dawn, 30 hours out of San Antonio. The previous stop, Pomona, California, was mine, a fairly short cab ride from my hotel.


trinity bridgenifty newish bridge over the Trinity River in west Dallas at the start
brazosapproaching the Brazos River in central Texas — on May 1 the countryside’s still greenish


w tx dawndawn in west Texas


Sanderson txSanderson, Texas. Wonder who decides which little wide places in the road get train stops?


desertwest Texas and New Mexico and Arizona. They sort of ran together, but the red-flowered Ocotillo is definitely in Arizona. The center photo (N.M.?) has a small barrel cactus in the right center foreground.There was a longish stop in Tucson near sunset; I got off and found a Subway for supper.


baldyFor four years of my life Mount Baldy was my compass, defining north. I was briefly confused, when I came out of the Claremont Lodge in daylight**, which way to head to campus. Then I saw the  mountains and all was clear.***

farm stand and hiveSome of the students# have an Organic Farm, with a farm stand on Friday afternoons outside the student union.  Notice the hand at the left holding a small jar of honey. Later I toured, and was given a lovely sweet sticky taste of comb just out of the hive.

When I attended Pomona at 18-22, I didn’t have the gardening experience to appreciate that everything blooms, all the time! My botany professors never had any problem producing whatever plant family they needed for lab that week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoses and Dianthus at the Student Union – the Coop.  And eucalypts are everywhere.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalso the bikes breed…


class of 68As the Parade of Classes got organized, the Class of ’68 put our Class of ’73 to shame with their protest signs.##


to be continued – over 4000 miles to go

– – – –  – – – – – – – – –  – – –

*  Inherited ataxia is a late-developing cerebellar condition that, in my case, messes up my speech and my balance.

**  having checked in about 5:30am

*** The air was clear too, they have improved the smog situation in 40 years. Back then, there were lots of days when you couldn’t SEE Baldy.

# When I attended my 20th reunion in ’93, all the students looked like babies to me; this time they seemed like normal young folks. I guess then I was still feeling a little like a student myself, and now I know I aren’t one ;-)

## If you’re puzzled by the right-hand sign, the Pomona teams are the Sagehens. Cecil Sagehen is their mascot, and his fighting yell is, of course, “CHIRP!”


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