The California Zephyr

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, September 28, 2007

So, here I am in San Francisco - a long way from the last time that I wrote and in between times there's certainly been plenty on the go!  I left Rebecca in New York last Tuesday morning - 2am in the morning to be precise.  Hmmm yes, those early morning flights always seem good at the time of booking!  With a really tight schedule (which inevitably ended up in a panic) I took a flight to Detroit with a stop off in Washington DC and then the Greyhound bus up into the depths of Michigan to meet up with my friend Claire.  Besides the inevitable delays (somehow I managed to get from Washington to the Greyhound bus all in 2 hours!) the most interesting part of the journey was the eclectic mix of individuals on the Greyhound bus.  My fellow travelers included a variety of people of whom I could not understand despite the fact that they were speaking English (the American version of chav English), a disabled man in his wheel chair of whom insisted on waving at every vehicle that went past and around 20 Amish people I was beginning to wonder what Michigan was going to bring for me!

Claire greeted me in Stanwood - a tiny little place not far from Remus....  a slightly bigger tiny little place. Claire's house is situated right on the Canadian Lakes - a picture perfect area with lots of tree's, apparently a resident cougar and a bear (a few locals have apparently spotted) and loads of deer that roam everywhere.  Given that they don't fence in between their houses the deer are literally everywhere - back lawn included!  Anyway, Claire's house is also located directly on a lake (the front yard) which of course freezes over in winter.  It's an exceptionally beautiful area and with the tree's on the Autumn turn and more beautiful weather I was lucky with my time at Claire's house. 

If I'm entirely honest my time at Claire's was exceptionally relaxing - sleeping in (Claire was still working), walking around the lake (spotted a beautiful little turtle one day) and lazing on the lawn in the sun!  However, we played golf one evening (loads of golf courses in this part of the world) and given that it was my first ever game I was pretty useless.  It took me ages to even connect with the ball, but once connected it would seem that I could belt the thing for a million miles.  Claire decided to give me a little insight into the gambling world of America and took me to a casino on an Indian reservation - the place was swarming with the fat, and the odd balls of society - it was an interesting to say the least!

On Friday I got to visit Claire's work (a cheese manufacturing plant) and then we were onward bound for Chicago where we wandered on the pier, rode on the ferris wheel (hmm some kids never grow up) and wandered the streets.  I was Claire's navigator (she drove) and I didn't get yelled at or fired, so I guess I wasn't too bad! 

As you all probably know, I'm not too fussed with accommodation - Claire was pretty wise to this and to ensure that I didn't seal her fate in a dodgy cheap hole (or a tent) she booked us into a decent motel out by the airport in Chicago (wise move on here behalf).  Everything was well organised and with Grant due to meet us at around 4am the following morning we left him with good instructions on how to meet us.  Murphy's law let us down again and Grant sent Claire a text in the early hours of the morning to say that he was in reception....  I trotted down to reception (in my pajamas) to be greeted by all sorts of business people waiting for their taxis but no Grant!  Apparently the guy at reception hadn't seen a short bald guy either (ok, so the description doesn't sound good, but I figured that they would be able to ID him with that information) - I got on the ringer with a fairly blunt "where the hell are you" kind of tone only to find that he'd been delivered to the wrong hotel.  Claire and I had a sweep stake as is to whether or not we could get to sleep again before he turned up and went back to sleep in luxury and of course, much to my delight Grant arrived in one piece and hadn't been soaked into the Chicago night.

Another teary good-bye to Claire at Union Station in Chicago and I was pretty much over saying good-bye to my friends (well, Claire seemed more upbeat than me but I was a bit choked).  I was happy to be with Grant and about to embark on the 55 hour journey to San Francisco on the California Zephyr (Amtrak train).

To summarise the train journey it was absolutely wonderful!  We did hit a deer on the journey and the train tracks are really rough - I didn't sleep at all on the first night and would have to say that it's the roughest train journey I've ever taken (Grant professes that only in Burma do the trains give you a rougher ride)...........  However, the scenery is stunning, especially between Denver and San Francisco where you follow the Colorado river and travel through the Rockies.  We also had a real hoot on the train meeting loads of interesting American people ranging from investment bankers from New York through to a failed movie producer called Stan (of whom gave Grant and I endless amusement).  I can really recommend this journey - absolutely fantastic!

Ok, so yesterday we walked from the city and out across the Golden Gate Bridge - a huge day which resulted in our feet being completely ruined, the view was beautiful though and the weather perfect.  Today was spent in the city and doing a bit of shopping!  Anyway, that's about time up for me, in summary I'm having a real hoot of a time. It's taken me ages to write this and whilst I've been tapping away (in a funky little lounge bar) Grant has been indulging in a bit of alcohol at the bar and I suspect that he's possibly getting either very drunk, hungry and/or sick of waiting for me.
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