Ex Chaos Expedio

I wanted to preface the posts to follow with a little bit of far-future editorializing. The following sequence of posts take place over a month I spent travelling the country by train, and a particularly unique and meaningful time for me.

Recently single, jobless with no immediate prospect and no deisre to return to office-life, I was 30 years old and more or less adrift. I spent a substantial portion of those 30 days, I don't know, publically alone, if you will, scribbling in journals, staring out the windows at the passing landscape and trying to make sense of where my life had gone.

It was self-indulgent to be sure, but in a very real way it was also self-care. I needed, desperately, to hit the reset button on my existence... force some kind of major change; to acquire something like the "swift spiritual kick to the head" Minnie Driver's character in Grosse Point Blank prescribes.

And I suppose I got it in some ways, if not in others. I think back to that time often. Sometimes I regret that many of the lessons didn't stick so well, but overall I feel pride at having made the effort. It was a difficult and troubled time in my life, but the trip itself was a joy. I met so many people I never would have, took time to connect in ways I'd never really allowed myself before.

I think we all wish more of our life could be so, that the balance between necessary drudgery and the sublime were shifted in favor of the latter. I suppose I still believe that's possible, even if I sometimes forget it. It's easy to get stuck in the doldrums, anxiously becalmed amidst seemingly infinite choices and needs and demands.

Anyway, I hope these posts will be entertaining, and if they manage to be occasionally inspiring to anyone beyond myself, I'll be exceedingly gratified.

-k, Mid-2013.

Volume 1 : And I'm Off... · November 12, 2008

Volume 2 : The Capitol Limited @ Waterloo, IN · November 13, 2008

Volume 3 : Union Station & Environs @ Chicago, IL · November 13, 2008

Volume 4 : The California Zephyr @ Somewhere in Iowa · November 13, 2008

Volume 5 : The California Zephyr @ Denver, CO · November 14, 2008

Volume 6 : The California Zephyr @ The Rocky Mountains, CO · November 14, 2008

Volume 7 : The California Zephyr @ Fraser, CO · November 14, 2008

Volume 8 : The California Zephyr @ The Banks of the Colorado River, CO · November 14, 2008

Volume 9 : The California Zephyr @ just over the border into Utah · November 15, 2008

Volume 10 : The California Zephyr @ Reno, NV · November 15, 2008

Volume 11 : The California Zephyr @ Truckee, CA · November 15, 2008

Volume 12 : The California Zephyr @ Emeryville Station & environs, Emeryville, CA · November 15, 2008

Volume 13 : The Coast Starlight @ northern California · November 16, 2008

Volume 14 : The Coast Starlight @ Salem, OR · November 16, 2008

Volume 15 : Portland, OR (arriving) · November 16, 2008

Volume 16 : Portland, OR (leaving) · November 18, 2008

Volume 17 : Paso Robles, CA · November 20, 2008

Volume 18 : Ventura, CA · November 21, 2008

Volume 19 : Ventura, CA (arriving) · November 21, 2008

Volume 20 : Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, CA · November 22, 2008

After Ventura, I got bad at keeping notes. I travelled from there to San Antonio through the desolation of West Texas, stopping (after El Paso) only at little clapboard or concrete stations proclaiming populations measured in the low hundreds. The conductor frequently reminded smokers to please not attempt to smoke on the train, because he would kick them off, and none of these were nice places to be stranded in the middle of the night.

In San Antonio I shared a lovely Thanksgiving with my friend James' family, then drove up to Austin to visit some other of the old Atlanta crew for a few days.

Then it was a week in Dallas, where Aaron and I got started on the iPhone app that was going to make us rich. Or, well, at least make us self-employed. It turned out to make us neither in the long term, but it was an exciting time.

I stopped again in St. Louis to visit my Uncle and Grandmère, and then back to Chicago for a couple of days with Maggie. I came back to DC on December 11, 2008. I'm not a very good rider, because I didn't keep track of milage... I suppose I could go back and figure it out, but it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 miles, I reckon...

Train 29 — Capitol Limited

Depart

Washington, District Of Columbia
Wednesday November 12, 2008 4:05PM

Arrive

Chicago (Union Station), Illinois
Thursday November 13, 2008 8:40AM

Train 5 — California Zephyr

Depart

Chicago (Union Station), Illinois
Thursday November 13, 2008 2:00PM

Arrive

Emeryville, California
Saturday November 15, 2008 5:40PM

Train 14 — Coast Starlight

Depart

Emeryville, California
Saturday November 15, 2008 10:12PM

Arrive

Portland, Oregon
Sunday November 16, 2008 3:40PM

Train 11 — Coast Starlight

Depart

Portland, Oregon
Tuesday November 18, 2008 2:25PM

Arrive

Paso Robles, California
Wednesday November 19, 2008 1:38PM

Train 11 — Coast Starlight

Depart

Paso Robles, California
Thursday November 20, 2008 1:38PM

Arrive

Santa Barbara, California
Thursday November 20, 2008 6:17PM

Train 796 — Pacific Surfliner

Depart

Santa Barbara, California
Thursday November 20, 2008 6:59PM

Arrive

Ventura, California
Thursday November 20, 2008 7:37PM

Train 774 — Pacific Surfliner

Depart

Ventura, California
Sunday November 23, 2008 9:57AM

Arrive

Los Angeles, California
Sunday November 23, 2008 12:10PM

Train 2 — Sunset Limited

Depart

Los Angeles, California
Sunday November 23, 2008 2:30PM

Arrive

San Antonio, Texas
Monday November 24, 2008 10:25PM

Train 422 — Texas Eagle

Depart

Austin, Texas
Friday November 28, 2008 9:31AM

Arrive

Dallas, Texas
Friday November 28, 2008 3:20PM

Train 422 — Texas Eagle

Depart

Dallas, Texas
Friday December 5, 2008 3:40PM

Arrive

St. Louis, Missouri
Saturday December 6, 2008 7:39AM

Train 322 — Texas Eagle

Depart

St. Louis, Missouri
Sunday December 7, 2008 8:30AM

Arrive

Chicago (Union Station), Illinois
Sunday December 7, 2008 2:14PM

Train 30 — Capitol Limited

Depart

Chicago (Union Station), Illinois
Wednesday December 10, 2008 7:05PM

Arrive

Washington, District Of Columbia
Thursday December 11, 2008 1:30PM