Where's Hazel? Pet Hazel. Scratch Hazel behind her ears.
TPH-FLG-BOS-NNH & Around & Return
The last time I went "camping" away from "home" was in
the vicinity of 1978. Time enough ago to misplace a lot of
stuff and routine and What-To-Bring lists. Also time
enough to discover that much of the gear I /can/ find I
have been carrying around since then and which might still
be useful. I am having to expend a lot of thought on what
to bring and what I can get along without.
Layover in Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounge
The VIP lounge at CHI, for Busines and Sleeper Class
passengers. Another perk of travelling first class.
Beverages, snacks, shower, WiFi, and train boarding
announcements loud enough to wake you from your nap, all
complementary. But the coffee was tepid. Huge cavernous
well appointed lounge on two levels. With the Kids Corner
telly on Disney channel and three other TVs with seating
arranged so you could watch news, sports, or Wheel. When I
finished my tepid coffee and gorp I explored the upstairs
and took a shower. I could stand in that shower all day.
Rains big drops of hot water.
Eastern Time Zone on The Lake Shore Limited
Eastern trains are different, no two storey cars. There
is a lounge car with geedunk but no observation level. The
roadbed seems smoother and quieter (mostly) and the
sleepers are better appointed in that each cabin contains
a commode and a wash basin.
Beef Short Rib a la Nuke.
Supper tonight, somewhere near Pittsfield MA whilst
waiting for a westbound freight to pass, was brought to my
table, everything in another balsa wood box (no trees were
harmed nor cut down in the making of this box) and
consisted of braised beef with polenta, green and yellow
beans and carrots, a sort of salad with no choice of
dressing (you got what they gave you) and a salted caramel
cheese cake in a fine and proper glass jar perfectly good
for home canning. How out of character is that? The entrée
is in plastic, the salad is in plastic, to be eaten with
plastic flatware wrapped in a paper napkin, all packed in
a disposable (they say recyclable) balsa wood box; but the
caramel cheese cake is in a branded Kerr Mason jar.
Some folks who can take the jar home rather than see it
Friday 20 July, Nashua
The Lake Shore Limited finally arrived at BOSton South
Station two hours late. I wonder if that is some sort of a
record. The train is not allowed to leave any station
early; you might miss an on-time passenger if you departed
early. So, at best, every departure is only on-time to
begin with. The biggest flaw in the system is the single
track. Long ago the double tracks were mostly torn up as
part of the usual short-sighted cost management profit
driven motives of corporate America. As a result, whenever
two trains meet on the single track one of them has to be
shunted to a passing siding. Scheduling is very important.
Freight has right-of-way. The passenger train gets later
and later. Still, with all the delays, I think the rail
way to travel is better than flying. Except when the meals
and food service are railroaded into the airline business
Friday—starting for the Maine event, I told Ms Android
to go shortest way and avoid tolls. So where does she lead
me? North on the Everett Turnpike from Nashua towards
Manchester. So how am I going to be directed to
Manchester, to 101, and then east to Maine? The NH
turnpike does not charge to get on, only to get off at
certain exits, and twice, to keep going. There is a toll
gate sort of about half way between Nashua and Manchester.
Before that there is an exit which is open only between
certain hours. Then there is another for E-Z-Pass or
Correct Change Only between certain hours. Finally,
looming on my horizon, is The Toll Gate I want to avoid.
Ms Android pipes up with: “Get in the right lane and
prepare to exit.” Usually those instructions are
accompanied by the name of the road or the exit number.
“Prepare to exit...” There was a ramp there. I went. The
road veered away from the toll gate, looped around, down
onto a secondary road, to a traffic light, turn right,
another loop, and onward to The Turnpike on the north side
of the tollgate. WOW! My first thought was: I wonder if
that works on the way back?
Saturday by The Seashore
I am presently enjoying the sea fog wafting
through the pines and spruces around the lighthouse at
Port Clyde Maine and this gathering of The Antarctican
Society. Morning fog and heavy dew made getting out
of bed in my little hammock tent quite a challenge but the
penguins were having fun. Storey telling, lectures
and discussions are the order of the day. I met several
old friends and lots of new ones. Watched the tide and
Luna and Mars. Mars, rising above the rim of the shoals of
Mosquito Island in Penobscot Bay, danced above the water
and reminded me of the Marfa
Beyond Hope (ME that is...)
T-Mo cell service is spotty at best here in the outback
of deepest darkest Maine; Ms Android the Nagrivator,
struggled with connectivity. Eventually I resorted to my
tattered copy of The Maine Map, an antique from
B.G. days. Drive and drive and drive, stop for coffee,
stop to pee; windshield wipers slapping time... Out beyond
Hope, on hwy 201, seven miles beyond the Caratunk sign, Ms
Android woke to say: “Your destination is one-quarter mile
ahead on the right.” Just in time for supper. The Sterling
Inn is a bed and breky a mile off the
Appalachian Trail and has bunk rooms and a special low
rate for hikers. Private rooms for private people. Eric is
one of my regular correspondents so we had a lot to chat
about. Thanks Eric and Zachary; you have a delightful
home; thank you for sharing.
Monday Rainy Day
Pouring driving rain to drive in. Reminiscent of the Toaster
House in Pie Town, here there is The Birdhouse
Wall in Caratunk. Only birds live there. The yellow
triangular caution sign says Watch For Falling Rocks. Do
they mean coprolites? I have no idea how much rain fell
along the road but the puddles made big splashes and the
windscreen wipers were working double time. Onwards to
visit Paul at Conway Truck Service—thanks for lunch
Paul—and then Jane & Kenny at their octahouse on Dundee Hill; thank
you for sharing your fine castle in the clouds. This part
of the drive was like going back in time at first but then
future shock set in as I saw the old houses replaced by
stores; the two-lane roads now four; the trees, taller and
thicker, or gone altogether. We had a lot of news to catch
up on. Jane and Ken have lots of animals visiting and
foraging in their yard. The last time I was there a bear
was helping himself to the bird feeders. This time there
were four porcupines Hoovering up the black sunflower
seeds and several chipmunks in attendance as well.
Return to Nashua
Unpack, unwind, clean rental car of balsam fir needles,
repack, shower, sleep. That rental Elantra from Avis is
some fine car. TinyTruck is gonna be jealous if I
write too much but I have to say she has a lot of pickup
and got 40mpg during my 903 miles of driving around and
around. I have to wonder how long I would have to make
payments and if the money saved from better fuel mileage
would cover the payments. And if they make a pickup
version. But don't breath a word of all this
speculation to TinyTruck.
Tall Ships at Portsmouth
The Tall Ships were in at Portsmouth NH.
We went to visit the the Oliver Hazard Perry.
The ships offer tours at wharf, tours at sea, seamanship
training, and opportunity for volunteering to help keep
the seafaring traditions alive and well. At at Dr Seuss
Art Festival in Prescott Park Ann-Marie espied one of of
those stick-your-head-through-the-hole boards and said
"Let's stick our heads through the holes without looking
first and take a picture." So we did and there you are.
Later, back in Nashua Oso con Migo espied a Teddy
Bear's Picnic he just had to crash. Those pictures
are somewhere below.
Monday, 27 July, On The Rails Again
My three sisters drove me to South Station in Boston to
begin the return trip to AridZona. Just in time. My three
days were up and my all-over tan is beginning to rust.
Finally got luggage checked in. The cargo master didn't
weigh my trunk this time and I kept the pull cart for my
carry-on packs. That cart is a life saver—Thank you
Ann-Marie! Thank you very much Ann-Marie and Mike. Then my
bag of popcorn burst open at the bottom. That was not
nice. Fortunately over a table, didn't lose much. Popcorn
and fruit salad for lunch. South Station is packed.
Mobbed. Crowded. What a crush of humanity. Everyone going
or coming or waiting. Wandered around half an hour looking
for a seat. Post cards are a dollar! They were three for a
dollar at Portsmouth. But I'm not going back to that rain
for more. I thought to have a walkabout outside to look
for less inflated postcards but ran out of time. On the
train now; run out of town on a rail. Nagrivator is
nagrivating. I'll let you know if we stray from the track.
Cold and wet all over from the reports I am receiving.
All except AridZona of course. From last night near Deming
NM Capt Hook reports there was 4.6" of rain and thunder.
Here along the lake shore track the rain on the train was
making a wake.
How to Tell Supper from Breky?
The “Box Breakfast” box has a cello window.
Ingredients for Dianne's Fine Sea Salt Caramel
Cheesecake in a Mason Jar dessert include “Lem-On
Juice” and “Artificial Butter Fla-Vor”. I'm nitpicking, I
know, especially since as my friend and mentor Will once
told me: If you can't say anything good, don't say
anything at all. Nitpicking is the best I can do else you
would have nothing to read on this matter.
On The Southwest Chief Again
Another shower at the Amtrak Chicago Metropolitan
Lounge, more snacks, the coffee was fresh and hot this
time. I never did get to look up Charlie or Jim or say hi
to a number of other friends and relatives. Sorry about
that. Not enough time in my daze. But I did have such a
good time that I can see making this an annual event. But
with a lighter pack. Or bring the bus, then Ben's Three
Day rule will not apply.
The Place Where They Grow Windmills
Mountain Time Zone. Sorry, no pictures, the Southwest
Chief wouldn't interrupt breky to stop for me. Southeast
of Garden City Kansas, acres and acres of wind turbine
parts along the tracks to the north. Row after row of
blades, pedestal sections, generator housings; the area
should be easily visible in Google
Maps. Hard to judge the length of the blades; they
were at least five times longer than a croissant held at
arm's length. But then that guesstimation was compromised
by the red shift of the speed of the Southwest Chief. Here
is a GIF clip made by Steven showing the growth of
Staging Area from 2011-2017. If you go there press
your back button to return.
Climbing into the Mountains of Northern New Mexico
My ears are popping every few miles. The land outside my
window actually looks tilted. The Southwest Chief snakes
through switchbacks so from the mid-train dining car one
can see the engine smoking along ahead and at the same
time the coaches dutifully following. The landscape is
become more like the southwest. The tall trees and almost
tunnel of dense vegetation back east has given way to the
open prairie of Kansas and now the scrub of the western
ABQ: Refuel, Change Crew, Shop for Postcards
The fuelie doesn't know what mileage this train obtains
but he says the last fuel stop was Kansas City and he now
is adding 1100 gallons. He says that bigger freight trains
usually get five gallons per mile. I told him my bus gets
better than five miles per gallon. The train crew
time-in-service is governed by DOT rules so the crew
coming on now gets off at Kingman AridZona; in contrast,
the cabin and dining attendants work the train end to end
and back again, six days on and then five off.
Grants NM, (Ms Android switched to AridZona Time Zone)
Holbrook & Winslow AZ; I began to appreciate the
anticipation that Sara(h) La Gata often displayed as we
drew closer to her familiar territory after a sojourn on
Home Again-Home Again Jiggity Jig
The heat has a lot to do with exacerbating
procrastinitus. I could feel the tentacles of tardiness
creeping in, thickening around my brain, as the Arizona
Shuttle descended on i17 from the Sunset Point
Rest Area. I had all I could do to disembark from
the van and off load my luggage when we stopped at Phoenix
Metro where Mikey met me.
I do not know what I may appear to the world;
but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on
the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a
smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the
great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
—Sir Isaac Newton
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Copyright © 2018, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.