Saturday, July 5, 2014

Train train train from SF to SEA

Good Luck tokens left at my fine AirBnB in San Francisco, (Hi Kenix). Yes, that is Spock giving someone a Vulcan mind meld.

The Lyft car we called has a pink moustache on the front of the car or dashboard, so you know they are bone fide. It's an app you download for your phone, and half the price of a taxi. So lucky that Natasha Dennerstein showed me around and knew such budget wonders as this existed.
In Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum looms ahead like a blocky castle, (and so it is, a citadel protecting reigning art so we may visit it, and wonder at the royal experience - to labour a metaphor somewhat, ha).

With poet Natasha Dennerstein at the de Young in SF. This fernery inside the museum reminded me of En Zed somewhat, nice. An inner courtyard encased with glass, on one side, held an established garden with what appeared to be the ground-cover Baby's Tears soft and fresh green all over naturalistic earth heaped and sloping. Above that, tree ferns otherwise, (our Ponga or Silver Fern being the same kind of plant). 

Also, when I arrived in the city, I noted a large pohutukawa in a San Franscisco street. Red, distinctive flowers above a Spanish-style house along from my AirBnB. The Mission where I stayed, (and where my newly made poet friend Natasha Dennerstein lives), fascinated me. Feeling quite at home there, I explored the local shops from my AirBnB in Harrington Street, and mainly Mexican people seemed to live and shop in that particular part. There are more trees in the inner Mission area, but I liked where I stayed too.

My two favourites in the de Young Modernist exhibition, (however, every piece in that show is excellent). So excited to view a Cornell in fact, the true art of course much more detailed than any book illustration. Inspired now to make my travel journal, created along the way, (with forget-me-nots and amrkn postage stamps on the cover, a guardian shark, and maps), even more detailed and magical. I hope to have an exhibition of my hand-made books soon, perhaps it will include this journal. The show will also incorporate an immense calico book with poetry-embroidered slightly distressed doilies and runners, my collage-covered first travel record book made during The Festival of Uncertainty, an immense book called Fuel through Hell made to commemorate my mother's death, and other smaller hand-made books. Anyone who can suggest a Aotearoa New Zealand gallery which they believe could be sympathetic to this kind of show, please let me know. Some of the smaller books, including one exhibited in the UK, feature on my Waywin blog.

Amtrak bus from SF to Emeryville

My lovely sleeper - took a night and day trip by rail to Seattle from San Francisco  - fellow loners, thinkers, and writers do find a way to afford this, I say.

By morning we were out of the city.

Much of the Californian landscape looked dry. I prayed there'd be no forest fires.

A yellow rose carried with me has quite a story.  

 In San Francisco Amtrak Bus Terminal appeared a woman who would not stop talking, quite loudly, to everybody in the rather small space. But she fascinated me, and appeared kind, sounded cheery too, announcing her stories to the whole room - although ostensibly chatting to the two men behind the counter. "Well, my husband was an alcoholic, so he went out and I stayed at home with the dogs," she said, (for instance). " We spent a lot on overseas trips for the children. But anyway, he died and the children are grown. So now I've given away everything I own, and I'm a vagabond," the woman said. 

I listened and tried not to draw attention to myself, because a woman travelling alone, I believe, needs to be careful. This recent acquaintence, if I can say that, however, had no such belief, it seemed to me.

"I'm travelling to see what I missed out on, now I'm retired." She presented with such a friendly manner, and happily affected almost everyone, making us listeners a little more relaxed to one degree or another over time. Although one elderly man did leave, (after she spoke at length to him), saying he felt too tired to make the journey this week. (The bus station staff seemed to know him well, and called this passenger by name, which was Fred if I recall).

Well, in one of the travelling woman's rather worn bags she carried some roses, lush only-just-opened yellow blooms. One bright rose got knocked out, bumped against a seat, as this woman got off the bus at Emeryville, to connect with the train to Seattle. So I quickly said, "O one of your roses has fallen, see?" 

And to cut a long story short she gave me the rose, which is still with me and gradually drying out to become quite a memento - even if I cannot take it back into New Zealand, we do not allow any fruit or vegetable or plant material in without special permits and so on. The colour as intense and rich as California sunshine. It's like the retro yellow rose embedded in resin I bought at Goodwill in Seattle last time. A friendship token, and reminder of this excellent story-teller noted first at the SF Amtrak Bus Station. "Well, the roses were given to me," the woman said, "and so you may as well have that one." 

A good luck charm. 

She'd said she was off to stay with her Indian friends, on their reservation, and she'd given up quack doctors. The Indians use herbs and flowers for medicine, and she uses those now. 

At one stage this extrovert mentioned (again, to everyone at large in the approximately fifteen by twenty metre room), she was born in what turned out to be the same year as me, and I have to say this stranger appeared more healthy than I am, if rather weather-worn, (I guess from all the travelling). Perhaps her new health regime was effective? 

"O I have relatives all over this country," she'd announced solemnly. It appeared they were all in for a visit some time soon.

Anyway, there it is, another amrkn fairy tale, The Yellow Rose and the Travelling Woman. 

I live in my own unbelievable amrkn journey story too for now, (how lucky to be allowed such a privilege to travel this way). Praise be to all that is good and careful.

A view out the train window, with reflection and curtains each side, it reminds me a little of the Rothko I saw in the de Young gallery in San Francisco with Natasha.

Shocking to see so many burnt trees, but the picture above does not show their blackness, totally charred. I imagine this is the aftermath of a forest fire some time ago.

OR stands for Oregon, the state north from California.

I spent some time admiring the design of the cabin, if that's the correct term, perhaps it is a train car, a sleeper car. Always such a pleasure to be inside a well kept train. 

Of course, trains also emit less carbon per person than what a plane or a car does, (they just take longer). 

Take a chance to relax. Leave your bed up all day, if you like, so you can recline and doze as I did, into dreamland off and on, the train rocking you to sleep. Divine.

We stopped for a while at a particular station. Many passengers got off the train and were encouraged to chat. A charming small town station, an enormous train, (truly), on a fine sunny summer day, and a holiday state of mind. 

The attendants and conductor, and other hosts such as the man in the Parlour Car all with chatty commentaries over the speaker system in every car, (or in the attendant's case, in real time), quite amusing.  

Thanks to Joe the cabin attendant for this photo.

Only about a third to half of the train size we started with, ha.

More photos than those featured here were taken over the twelve hours, but I selected enough to give a sense of the variety, and the beauty, passengers could experience. 

Shots from a train may have a kind of 'rushing by' aspect at times too. I did not attempt to make them seem like images taken at a standstill.

The reason this is so small, is....

...yes, it's Salem. Eeep, ghosts of the witch trials, (although the historical and horrible witch trials were at another Salem, in Massachusetts as Amy Tucker, in Seattle informed me). 

I held my breath a moment and then gave thanks they do not have those witch trials and attendant tortures any more, (or have they just changed the venues and processes? Hmmm)?

Delighted to capture some beehives in the shot above this one. 

Keep bees if possible, or allow a beekeeper to keep them on your property. 

We need to take special care of honey bees nowadays, they need us and our lives depend on them.

A brief case of claustrophobia perhaps caused me to photograph this - ha.

O my goodness what a long train journey, and there's more. 

(I added these a few hours after I posted the images above).

sunlight on the blanket of my sleeper

a most excellent door latch

So delighted when I saw this mountain, fumbled with my camera, racing to take the picture. 

I wondered if it was Mt Rainier, (once Mount Tahoma), but, of course, this is another magnificence. Seattle's largest mountain is more rounded than this at the top, or is it Rainier, at a distance?

 Regarding mountains, such a joy, (they've represented something like freedom to me since I was a child). In those far off days I at times carried a framed picture of the Swiss Alps around the house, or kept it to gaze upon, saying, "There is more than this," over and over. Thankfully, the immense river plain I lived on and its attendant small town repression was not the entire world, after all. Such fanciful, day dreaming activities stopped me falling into despair.

In the United States, now, for some reason I feel happier than I ever have, anywhere. The place itself, continental, expansive, with a constitution that mentions happiness as a human right, and a variety of cultures and terrain, far too much to ever take in completely, but all somehow strangely linked. My perception of a strange coherence here and open-mindedness, it comforts me. 

To live there in the States, however, would be impossible, I think, but maybe I'll find a way? That's what keeps me going these days, looking for a plan which could work out well, to live in amrka. I imagine I could get short-term contracts at least to lecture here perhaps, as an education consultant or some such, or grants to work as a writer. The Iowa Residency, sadly, seems to have turned into a closed shop with writers only allowed to go there if they're recommended by someone else already involved in the programme. No idea why as yet, could be a sign of our En Zed culture becoming even more narrow, but I do hope not.

Just before reaching Seattle my camera battery ran out. The last shot of my 12 hour or so train journey, San Francisco to Seattle is this rising sun.

It was some time before I discovered my luggage was missing. (Yes). The next blog shall explain that saga. 


O travelling, we never know what may occur. I must say that keeping a change of clothing in one's carry-on luggage, along with all medicines, too, is wiser than I ever believed, previously.

Thanks for reading and please do comment, lovely to hear from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment