Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Awesome Amtrak Train Trek


June 20, 6:45 P.M. "Departure"
We departed Albuquerque a few minutes late, then dined the early meal at 5:15 P.M., seated with a nicely dressed couple of older ladies. The meal we ordered was the steak dinner with mashed taters and mixed veggies. Not bad, I'd say.

We then headed to the lounge car where Noah and I loaded up on snacks, soda and coffee. We're now back in our room, watching the late afternoon sun set in the west, passing decrepit little towns and settlements beyond our window, in the desert of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona.

The train, it doesn't thread its way through the finer areas of towns and cities. Amtrak uses the tracks of freight train companies like the BNSF; people who can afford to don't want to live next to freight trains. And so, as we made our way out of Albuquerque, we rode through industrial blight and rural towns, walls and parked train cars splattered with the indecipherable graffiti of gangs and future artists alike. From the train's vantage point one peers past the facade of suburbia, into the heart of the matter.

Noah was wishing we had TV to watch; I told him that whatever was out there on the other side of the train window is our TV.

June 21, 6:20 A.M. "California Morning"
We're just now leaving the San Bernardino station after a short stop, Noah's still asleep and I'm sipping coffee in my bunk. The sleeper cars have coffee stations at the end of each corridor, which the porter keeps refreshed. It's early morning, just at sunrise, the light is tangerine gray, the air thicker than the high, thin air of the mountain west that we're used to.

Palm trees, industrial shipping containers, commuter and freight trains on the adjoining tracks. The concrete ribbon of the L.A. river, snaking its way through the megalopolis.

My sleep was restless, never deep, the motion of the train and its sounds always in the background. Overnight we traveled through the Arizona and California deserts, past little outposts sparsely lit, past oil and gas refineries more brightly lit, into this orange-gray dull morning where it's hard to tell the difference between palm trees and oil derricks. Welcome to California.

June 21, 6:20 P.M. "Oceanside"
We're sitting in our hotel room, on the 2nd floor, window open to a cool, fresh ocean breeze, overlooking palm trees and park homes. The late afternoon is once again cloudy and cool, as it was this morning, before the sun broke through the haze. A gull is cawing in the distance.

We've just finished eating and then, once back in our room, we've showered and refreshed, after a busy day.

The morning's ride into downtown L.A. was poignant for the dichotomy between one's impression gained from T.V. and cinema versus the reality: L.A. is harsh, gritty and industrial. Mile after mile of enormous warehouses and football field-sized lots full of containers, many of them in disuse, signifying an economy that has seen better days. Nothing symbolizes this decay and decline more pointedly than the abandoned landscaping surrounding these enormous warehouses, once verdant palm trees now brown and shabby, broken and pot-holed lots, and fields filled with industrial debris.

Another shock to the newcomer are the oil wells dotting the landscape, interspersed between buildings and lots, even beside homes and other domestic settings, along with refineries and mazes of power transmission lines. The ritzy image of L.A. is reserved for the facade of select communities; the rest is like an exoskeleton, the internals of the megalopolis, rather than hidden away from plain sight, reside overtly, up front, an eyesore spanning dozens and dozens of miles. And throughout this seemingly endless industrial expanse (that reminds me of some ill-conceived sci-fi landscape) there is a sense that it has been burnt to a crisp in the immediate past, the hillsides brown and dry, the only greenery being purposefully cultivated.

We disembarked at Union Station in downtown L.A., a maze of seemingly endless parallel tracks and corridors that inevitably find their terminus at the high, vaulted hall that gives the station its name. We immediately noted hordes of people rushing from one track, down long hallways, toward some connecting train on another track elsewhere, like something you'd expect to see in N.Y.C.

We found our way to a ticket window and purchased our round-trip tickets to Oceanside, then made our way outside, in search of the fabled "Olvera Street." While we were expecting some Old Town-like tourist mecca, what we found was just another sprawling thoroughfare in the heart of L.A., the distances too vast to gain any sense of a particular ethnicity about.

We found our way, through asking a security guard for directions, to Philippes, a noted landmark eatery several blocks away, and satisfied our morning appetite. Breakfast on the train had been from 05:00-05:45, much too early for us late-sleepers, who stayed up late the evening prior in fun conversation with a group of kids in the lounge car, and which my Grandson immensely enjoyed. You can't soar with the eagles if you hoot with the owls, or so I've been told.

After breakfast we wandered through the Chinatown district before returning to Union Station and making our connection to Oceanside, a two-hour ride south with numerous stops on the way. Despite the many stops, I was very glad to be riding the rails rather than driving the roads of Southern California.

Upon stepping onto the platform at balmy Oceanside, we immediately felt like our vacation had at last finally started for good. We rolled our suitcases up the street for a mile or so, found our hotel, ate lunch and went to the boardwalk, where we walked and shot pictures and rode pedal cars, and Noah shopped.

June 22, 9:36 P.M. "A Busy Day"
We've just arrived back at our hotel, driven back from my sister-in-law's after having spent an afternoon with her and her grandson in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, then to her house for drinks and dinner.

The thing you notice from being on vacation for several days minus a car is, like many communities built up after WWII (like my home town of Albuquerque), how dependent the southern California culture is on the automobile. I noticed this when we were picked up at our hotel this afternoon, and driven through the choked freeways to San Diego, then out inland, through more choked freeways, through the hot, desert-like interior communities that have little in common with the more comfortable coastal climate.

June 24, 8:35 P.M. "Joe Turns Sick"
After a day's hiatus from writing, during which I acquired a painful, near crippling blister on my foot, and also came down with a sore throat and chills, we are on the eve of our return train trip. I had originally made the mistake of misreading my train tickets and thought we'd have to make an extremely early hike to the train station in Oceanside, but it turns out that we have more time, a much more relaxed schedule.

My sister-in-law picked up Noah today and took him to the San Diego Zoo. Yesterday, his great Uncle took him to play basketball, so he hasn't been totally bored with his old, half-crippled, sick Grandpa.

My general sense of southern California from this latest trip is of a culture that's barely, if at all, sustainable: a crumbling infrastructure, an eroding economy, an unfathomable burden of debt, choked with the automobile's influence, loaded down by a culture of welfare and entitlement. Yet, despite these challenges, all of that seems to melt away in the balmy ocean air of the beach, where idealized, sculpted bodies bask in the glow of the fantasy that has always been California.

"Go west, young man" is symbolized in no better way than the manner in which California has been idealized as some Eden-like end-state, the golden pot at the end of the rainbow, the manifestation of dreams realized. Having visited periodically over the years, I can say with certainty that if the people and economic conditions were transplanted into any other geography, minus the ideal coastal climate the state is known for, it would absolutely fail to impress in the manner that it in fact does.

"California Dreaming" isn't just a Beach Boys song, but a realization that the state is built around an unrealizable fantasy, which is slowly fading, a sign that a renewed awakening of sobriety is clearly needed.

June 25, 3:05 P.M. "Ready for Departure"
We're sitting in a side patio of Union Station, downtown L.A., on a hot, sunny Saturday.

We slept in late this morning, taking our sweet time getting packed and ready to go. We finally checked out of the hotel and sauntered down the Pacific Coast Highway, to the heart of downtown Oceanside, luggage in tow, in search of breakfast, where we gorged ourselves on portions much too large for mere healthy mortals to fathom. Dehydrated, I also took in plenty of cold liquids during our meal, foregoing the usual industrial-strength espresso.

Our train ride north to L.A. was unexpectedly soon, due to the earlier train, which we would have missed, being delayed from San Diego, and so we were soon on our way.

Noah discovered, through his insatiable preteen appetite, that the coastal Amtrak has a full cafe on board, and so he helped himself to some post-breakfast snacks. His chicken fried steak and three egg breakfast was obviously not enough. Ah, to be young again!

Today was hot and bright, unlike our cloudy, gloomy transit of L.A. several days earlier, which did nothing toward diminishing the ugliness and industrial grit of the place. I think Ridley Scott's future vision of L.A. in "Blade Runner" was spot on, minus the incessant rain and floating billboards in the sky of the movie's version. This afternoon's brief stroll from the station in search of refreshment brought us Asian, Hispanic and Afro-American cultures in close proximity, along with the usual commercialism of American anti-culture.

We have but two and one half hours before we board our train, enough time to savor our memories and reflect on our vacation.

June 25, 10:12 P.M. "Leaving California"
I'm sitting in our sleeper room, the movement of the train sufficient to make my normally poor handwriting even worse. Noah is in the lounge car with an eleven--year-old friend we met at dinner.

Our departure from Union Station was uneventful, the only uncertainty being which track the train would be on. The experience thus far has been better than coming out earlier in the week; our sleeping car porter has been very punctual, having already turned out our bunks for us, leaving our room cozy and inviting. He even informed us that there are showers downstairs.

Freight train after freight train roars past our window, interrupting the gentle roll, clatter and squeak of the train with an enormous, metallic rushing sound, Doppler-shifted, the sound of commerce, rolling steel. We've passed Barstow a few minutes ago, after a brief stop, and now we're headed into the cool desert night.

We watched warehouses and poorer neighborhoods (hence the phrase "wrong side of the tracks") flow past our window earlier, prior to dinner, as we sped through the "inland empire," and yet people in their yards would stop and wave to us in our expensive berths as if, just for a moment, class and economic distinctions ceased to exist, just some people on a train, speeding by, and other people nearby the tracks watching in earnest.

June 26, 10:23 A.M. "Back in New Mexico"
We're on the last leg of our return trip, where the track swings south of Interstate 40 and comes up into Albuquerque from the south. The land is dry and parched, drought-stricken and laced with fires, our home territory, the badlands from Marty Robbins' fabled song.

Noah stayed up till midnight last night with his friend, and is now sleeping in. We've both missed breakfast, a meal built into the price of our tickets, which we've squandered due to our night-owl schedules. I am glad Noah took the time to get to know a new friend, foregoing breakfast being the price paid, and am reminded that this is what getting away on vacation is all about, and what distinguishes childhood from adulthood. I need to be more childlike, I finally decide, as Noah gently sleeps in the top bunk and I watch the Sandia Mountains get closer and closer in the distance.

I'm hoping that Noah will end up with many good memories of his train vacation, for I have amassed many of my own. He may not have an opportunity to do this again for a long while.

Train travel is an anachronism in this day and age of quick and expedient satiation of our needs. It is slow and ponderous, one step removed from an overland stagecoach journey. One rides through the land, not over it. One feels every nuance and undulation in the land's topography through the steel track, whose course threads through the very heart of the land, the bad and the ugly just as evident as the good.

Outside the window, isolated clumps of lava rock, from long-extinct volcanoes, peek out from the yellow grassland, the Sandias in the distance. We're almost home.

(Written via Lamy Safari + Parker Quink blue/black ink into composition book, then transcribed onto AlphaSmart Neo.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Late Evening's Inquiry

The turtle we got a year or so ago from my brother who lives in our old family home. He has nine or so turtles in his yard, the oldest being about 60 years old, acquired from a neighbor that couldn't care for it any longer.

Our first turtle we had was acquired in 1967, when we were but mere lads, smuggled back to New Mexico from Ohio in a shoe box in the overhead luggage bin of a Greyhound Bus, during a summer vacation to see relatives. There have been turtles in our family's backyard ever since.

They hibernate during the cold mountain winters in underground caves we dug for them in the hard-packed dirt, and eat either insects, or the cat food that my brother leaves out for them. They also like strawberries.

Our lone turtle in my yard we feed a bit of cat food, but also let it forage for snails and insects in its lush pen that's situated along the back wall of the yard, adjacent to the lawn, where it gets over spray from the sprinklers.

We had a very cold winter, getting well below zero during February, so we weren't sure if the turtle had indeed survived. I am happy to report that it has.

We haven't named the turtle, I'm not sure if we will. I suppose if we had a whole mess of them, we'd either have to give them names, or perhaps numbered tags. I suppose it's enough just to call it "Turtle".

(Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22, fountain pen signature via Pelikan M100 with Parker Quink blue/black ink, photo via Lumix G1.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the Field With General Doomsday

In Which We Do Glorious Battle Against the Forces of Darkness in Defense of the American Way

(Subject to change without notice. Your results may vary. Some settling of contents may have occurred during shipment.)

"If armies march on their stomachs, ours marched on its liver" - General Doomsday

My boy, sit yourself right down here like, and let me spin you a yarn about a time when I was still young and in good fighting shape.

The General and his minion(s) went on a field deployment yesterday, deep into the hinterlands, forward deployed, under deep cover, out in the boonies, to scout out the enemy strongholds.

Er, well, not really. Actually, we went on a sports car, cigar, tapas bar soiree. We had every good and justifiable reason. Consider: the southwest U.S. of A. hasn't seen a lick of moisture since winter, the relative humidity running at about the same value as the Consumer Price Index; there're forest fires all over the region, the sky choked with smoke almost every evening; the economy is in the toilet and no relief is in sight; natural disasters now seem so frequent that we all too easily think "ho-hum, another thousand or so folk just lost their homes, I wonder what's on TV?"; our nation appears to be led by forces entirely out of touch with the common man, working toward purposes inconceivably dark and murky; our foreign policy seems to be founded upon the principle of perpetual warfare, imagined enemies taken with the same degree of dread as we once reserved for dictators and regimes deserving of our retribution; our national currency has been devalued ninety percent since 1970; we face a looming strategic threat from the rising super-power of the People's Republic of China; and not only that, but it seems that the inmates are running the asylum.

What we needed, on this near-100-degree day, was a drive. Get the hell outta town, hit the road Jack, my way or the highway, head to the hills, hunker down, don our flak-jackets, make a stand, white line fever, rubber meets the road, day trip, head trip, picnic basket bluesville saloon croon.

The weapons of our warfare were, well, not so spiritual, maybe they're just a bit too carnal, in fact, to wit: high-octane, mid-engined, maduro-wrapped, sun-drenched, conspiracy-laden, corn-fed, caffeine-injected, High Silliness.

We set out on the High Road through the Jemez mountains, north and west of Albuquerque, the twisting mountain road threading its way through dry forests of pine, skirting the edge of the Valles Caldera (where, in the above image, we found proof that the Elk Hiders were out and about), past the fabled research city of Los Alamos, its various "Tech Areas" spread sporadically across the Pajarito Plateau, down the mesa past signs warning of unexploded ordinance and shoot-on-sight trigger fingers, past Casinos of Gold, up the hill past flea markets and Santa Fe Opera and National Cemetery, headstones arrayed in grids as neat and orderly as lines on some General's map, down through the European-like, twisting narrow streets into the ancient (by New World standards) city of Santa Fe, to repast at half-past three on said balcony, movie star alert, three-alarm tequila fire drill, parking meters, fried tortillas, sun-burnt, twisty-turning accelerator enchilada casserole supreme.

"To the top!" announced General Doomsday, our thirsts slaked and palettes satisfied. But first, no army marches forth to battle absent a good war plan, an accurate field map, a trusty scouting report. So, we enlisted the services of the bus-boy at Coyote Cafe, who wrote our Order of Battle on the back of a check stub (budgets being what they are these days -- this ain't the Cold War, my boy!), and off we rode to do glorious battle once more against the enemy forces of gravity, aerodynamic drag and pot-holed, gravel-encrusted mountain roads. Think vectors. Yaw. CG's. Roll rates. Reverse-cambered corners. Down-shifts mid-turn. Surfing the torque curve, my boy. Now stay alert, listen up here.

The day, its heat continued unabated regardless of our attempts at generating an artificial breeze. Our glorious army sweltered. War is hell, my boy. So up we deployed our Secret Weapon, the General's power convertible top technology, and on kicked the AC, nearly freezing our cajones to the quick, pronto-like. We bivouacked at the petrol station, then off again to do recon duty along the Turquoise Trail, wending our army through twisting two-lane roads in the Ortiz Mountains, searching long and hard in the little village of Madrid for signs of The Enemy, spotting none, not even those dang blasted Elk Hiders, just more cafes and galleries and shops and white-legged tourists from Way Back East with sweat-laden, wrinkled shorts and that Ten Thousand Mile Stare. War is hell, my boy.

Fatigued, the day sporting triple-digit temps (but, "it's a dry heat," we often say Out Here), the wind kicking up, the AC on high, the sun partially roasting a stripe of crimson along the inside of my left arm where I'd failed to apply SPF-85, mil-spec-grade, anti-radiation creme in sufficient quantity, we sauntered back into town, tired but satisfied, General D. still in fine enough form to row the shifter back and forth, winding through traffic on Tramway Road at rush-hour well above the civilian speed limit, set the controls for the heart of the sun, damn the torpedoes, gentlemen!

We arrived back home sporting our usual casual, child-like giddiness, receiving just suspicious looks of awestruck wonder and disgust in return, but knowing that we had fought the Good Fight, kept the faith, toed the line, rode hard, did our duty, did our darnedest, lit 'em up, locked and loaded. There's no way to tell if we could have done any better, you play the hand you're dealt, keeping your cards close to yourself, walk tall, talk taller, carry that Big Stick, etc.

And that, my boy, is that. Now, go and help your mother, I've got a nap that needs some serious tending to. War is hell, my boy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Life's Lessons at the Aztec Motel

I. Intro:
While perusing a local urban exploration blog last week, I was surprised and dismayed to read about the demolition of the Aztec Motel. I had just driven by the area, several weeks prior and, while the building was intact, it did appear abandoned, its long, slow decline now solidified.

Part of the reason for my surprise was that I had amassed, over the last few years, a good-sized collection of photographic images taken on the property; and secondarily, the Aztec Motel's location along Albuquerque's Central Avenue -- the legendary Route 66 -- in the heart of what is now the urban chic Nob Hill district, made it a natural subject of interest for local historians.

Of course, what remained the hotel's most obvious draw was not its history, but the eclectic folk-art decor, plastered over its entirety and extending outwards onto the property's grounds.

(From "Roach Motel Series", pinhole collage)

II. Background:
I will not attempt any kind of scholarly treatise herein on the history of Route 66 -- The Mother Road -- except for what local history and family legend have been passed down to me.

My Dad passed away three years ago, at the age of 90. He was a rancher's son, a rough-and-tumble youngster who grew up in the dry, high desert of New Mexico during the Great Depression. He was a WWII vet, an unsung hero (we later found out), and a loving Dad to three young boys who had lost their Mom to illness.

Dad was born on the ranch, situated on what was then Albuquerque's east mesa (but now is square within the city limits) a mere stone's throw from what would be, decades later, the Mother Road, but then (at the tail end of the Great War) was just a mere dirt road.

He would tell stories of life near the road, like of migrant road worker camps, Mexican ladies cooking tortillas by fireside; of wood cutters hauling their loads from the nearby Sandias to sell in town; of vagabonds and travelers; of his Dad the rancher's failed dreams when the well broke, the family moving back into town and once again living a mere stone's throw off what would become the Mother Road, in the historic Huning Heights neighborhood. Over the years, my Dad's life seemed constantly intertwined with that fabled Mother Road.

The original Route 66 threaded its way through New Mexico via a detour that took it north to near Santa Fe, then down along the Pueblo villages of the Rio Grande valley, a route that took it north to south through Albuquerque along what is now 4th Street. Then, in 1937, it was realigned via a direct east to west route through the Tijeras Canyon pass of the Sandia Mountain range, straight into Albuquerque's Central Avenue, passing directly adjacent to the old Van Cleave homestead.

The corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street, in downtown Albuquerque, is where the old and new alignments of Route 66 cross each other.

In the 1950s, the iconic neon sign art sprang up along Central Avenue, Route 66 being the primary tourist road for travelers crossing the state. During this time, my Grandpa leased the former ranch-land to several drive-in movie theater companies. One of these, the Terrace Drive-In, sported a forty-foot-tall, animated neon sculpture of a dancing flamenco lady, situated along the back of the screen facing Central. My memory of that sign is still vivid to this day.

The many businesses that sprang up along Central Avenue to service the Route 66 tourist traffic included cafes, theaters and motels like the Aztec.

Dad would take us to the movies on a regular basis, us three boys piled into the back of the station wagon, because Grandpa got free tickets from the theater's management. I feel that, although I wasn't born in immediate proximity to the Mother Road, I came of age at the tail-end of Route 66's heyday, until the newly-built Interstate 40 took tourist dollars away from the area and it began its long, slow decline from tourist mecca, to drug-gang Combat Zone, to newly renamed International District.

Like my Dad before me, I can recall now that, over the years, my life too has grown around the Mother Road. I once lived in an apartment nearby, and I now hang out at coffee shops along its silver thread. And the family's former ranch-land, it's still in our possession, nearly a century having past since Grandpa first broke ground.

III. That Was Then, This is Now:
The Aztec Motel came to my attention about a decade ago, as I became more active in prowling around the university and Nob Hill districts of Central Avenue, in search of street photos.

The gestalt surrounding the Aztec is immediately apparent: you can't miss it. First-timers drive by, heads suddenly spinning around as brake lights flash. "Did you see that?" It had that classic southwestern Route 66 motel appearance, with tall, neon sign out front, but what stuck out was the building's exterior surfaces and surrounding grounds were almost entirely covered in folk-art, kitschy decor, junk and detritus of every conceivable ilk.

There was the metal grid of a once bed spring, propped up against the building's wall as a climbing vine's support. There were picture frames, paintings, yard sculptures galore. A glass garden of (recently) emptied wine and beer bottles. Wooden cable spools supporting a menagerie of nicknacks and whatnot. A collection of dolls and stuffed animals, nailed to the stump of a tall tree, crucifix-like. And tables, each like a personal shrine of sorts, out front of each room, where the occupants could provide their own, individualized, artistic display.

The Aztec wasn't the kind of place you'd want to take your family for a nice getaway. There were bikers, street people, recovering addicts, a menagerie of folks of life's down-and-out, existing week-to-week, on the edge, some residents more long term than others.

I started making infrequent visits a few years back with pinhole box cameras and tripods. I was always (still am) cautious about trespassing uninvited for the selfish purpose of acquiring photos, as I'd usually shoot from the public sidewalk. Later, I'd get a bit more bold and start capturing my long exposures on the grounds itself. The residents I met, they were all, to the person, excited that someone would be interested in capturing some essence of the eclectic place that they called home. Yet, they didn't want their pictures made, almost as if their life could be better portrayed through the facade of the motel itself, as if it were a gallery of their impromptu, spontaneous creative expressions revealed.

Several years ago I began to take with me a pair of 8"x10" pinhole box cameras. I had learned, through years of off-again, on-again explorations into pinhole photography, that the bigger the negative the more information collected therein.

("Aztec Altar", 8x10 pinhole camera paper negative)

IV. Found and Lost:
One day, after a rain storm, the air moist and the light subdued, I arrived at the Aztec with my large box cameras and heavy tripod. There I found an altar in front of one of the rooms, made from a smattering of votive candles and an old bible, the pages weathered and wrinkled. The surface of the altar had been an old vanity sink, the sink's bowl filled in with the stain of dirt and debris. That one image satisfied my hunger and search for visual truth at the Aztec Motel. Regardless of what kind of gear I subsequently used, or however inspired I felt, I knew that I had captured the quintessential spirit of the place in that one photo. Or, so I felt at the time.

And so, my interest waned. I'd drive by on subsequent visits and think "meh." Been there, done that. I'd leave without a picture, or maybe redo a previous composition but come away with something lacking inspiration, devoid of life or interest.

Time passed, and I assumed the Aztec Motel would always be there, should I suddenly get a renewed fire in my belly, a restoration of the documenter's hunger and curiosity for the world Out There.

And then, last week, I made the pilgrimage once more to the Aztec Motel, along the old Mother Road, to find the sign still standing (the city's sign ordinance grandfather's in older signs that exceed the new height restrictions), but the building, it was half ruins, a bulldozer parked out back, the property fenced off with chain link, the city having condemned (like they have much of our past history) these relics from a time now long gone, to make way for -- what, some boutique shop, or art gallery, or fast-food joint, or lofts, or a mere parking lot?

The lesson is clear and striking: the only constant in life is change. We've got to make the time to document our homes, our neighborhoods, our towns, before they change before our very eyes, quicker than you can blink away the tears of nostalgia and regret, becoming the future present-tense, our memories firmly rooted in a past whose only evidence will be musty photos, journal books and stories you tell your kids, and your kids' kids.

Aztec Motel Picture Gallery:
(Click each image to enlarge)
Older Pinhole Camera Images:

Images from 2009:

Recent Images from March 2011:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The White Shed

Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.
Images via Fuji Instax Wide 210.

Monday, June 06, 2011

From Pencil to Platten

A Cafe/Commuter Train Pencil/Typecast

Post Script: I got down to the station about a half-hour early. The New Mexico Railrunner only runs two trains on Sunday, once in the AM and once in the PM, so the train, when it arrived, was pretty crowded. I ended up being surrounded by five children from a Taiwanese family who were wrestling and jostling and in general having a great kid's train ride, and I enjoyed every bit of it, but didn't have an opportunity to do any further writing on the way up to Santa Fe.

When we arrived at the end of the line in downtown Santa Fe, I snapped a picture of a cool-looking metal band, waiting to ride the train back to Albuquerque, the electric guitarist with instrument slung over his shoulder (but alas, no amp). Too bad; that could have been one fun ride.

My pencil scratchings were translated into typecast that evening, via Olivetti Lettera 22.