Stuck on a Train

It’s been pouring in LA all week, with no plans to get back to NorCal on my journey I figured the best thing to do is have an adventure and take the train back.  I love trains, a friend of mine took 13 hours getting back over the Grapevine on I-5 – normally a 5 to 6 hour drive.

I scheduled an  Uber driver last night to pick me up, giving me plenty of time for rain and traffic to Union Station in downtown LA.  All went well, got to the station dry despite the rain.

My business class tix got me into the 1st class lounge where there were drinks and snacks before we got on…then the delay.  NBD, an hour for a new engine.  Now I’m sitting in Burbank while the new engine conked out, I would say for almost an hour now?  Well, I wanted adventure!!  We’ll see if that’s going to include a night in Burbank at a Motel 6 or something?

This is just a shame, I was really hoping it would be a rainy day train ride up the coast.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen?

While I was in Manhattan Beach, I went to the new marine lab at the end of the pier for donor day.  My mom was involved with the original lab, it was nice they had a special day for the previous volunteers.  Got a few good shots when I was down there at least before the rain.

An update, we’re back at Union Station in LA awaiting????  Ugh.  Made a quick field trip to grab lunch & possibly a latte, the bathrooms at the station were full of homeless.  I went back to the 1st class lounge at the train station to use those bathrooms, then tried to hit Starbucks but the line was too long.  Grabbed a Wetzel Pretzel hot dog to come hang out on the train some more.  It’s actually more comfortable on the train than in the station.

At least I grabbed some food, I had made a 2p dining car appointment that of course didn’t happen.  If we ever get moving, I’ll keep writing.  Right now I’m just a tad worried I’ll be on this train for 2 days before I get back.  When the train took off the 1st time, I was like a little kid taking pictures.  Now I’m just kinda blah and over it.

2 Days later:  That turned out to be a 7 hour delay, we left at 5p instead of 10a – getting in at 5am to Martinez.  The coastline was totally dark, pitch black actually, didn’t get to see a thing past Van Nuys when it got dark.  I didn’t write the rest of the ride because I was like a zombie.  The good news is, when I finally got home and re-woke up to call Amtrak gave me a trip voucher.  When the train started rolling I grabbed dinner from the dining car then just vegged out the rest of the ride.  I didn’t even read or watch a movie, just tried to enjoy the ride.  I must have slept a little?  I kept waking myself up snoring 🙂  Sorry to the rest of my car-mates.

Planes, trains & automobiles January.  Drove to New Mexico, flew to LA then the train back – reverse order – also lengthy.

While in Manhattan Beach I got to spend the week with my mom for her birthday.   Got a few pics I’ll post from that and some others of my LA time.  It rained most of the time, I did get to have some much needed GF time.

I also had an interesting FB exchange (I gotta get off FB!!).  While it rained I was checking out Zillow in Carlsbad and noticed what I thought were vacation trailers close to the water.  I have a few FB friends in Carlsbad, did a shout out to see what those were?  When I looked into it more I saw it was a over 55 retirement community (which I qualify for but not ready to go there just yet).  The dirt rental was about $1,500 when I looked it up a little more.

In the meantime, a friend’s wife who just became a real estate agent started posting pictures of trailer homes on my FB page.  When I said I wasn’t ready for a retirement community, she started posting pics of a trailer park in Hermosa Beach.  So now my “friends” think I’m looking into trailer homes??  Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t see a $500k trailer in Hermosa Beach as a smart investment.  I don’t see anything down there as a smart investment right now, it’s crazy expensive.  She most likely thought I was trying to get my foot in the door down there, I can’t imagine inviting my childhood friends over to my trailer for dinner?

I’m leaving the post up though, for some reason I think it’s hysterical!!  We played golf with some guy about 20 years ago who lived in the tree section and I said, “I grew up in the tree section!”  He said, “It must be hard to not be able to afford to live where you grew up?”  My husband & I laughed on the way home, we don’t live there because we’d have A-holes like him for neighbors.  People spend so much time thinking others are jealous of them they don’t realize they’re coming off as pricks.

I had a good time down there with my mom and a few GF’s though, it was really nice.  I can always go “home” and spend the time with my mom.  I’m so glad Amtrak gave me a voucher, I really want to take that train trip during the day to see that coast route!!  Thought I’d spend a rainy day, clinking glasses in the dining car watching the sunset in someplace other than Van Nuys.

These are finally leaving Union Station, where the train was on the coast and my view from there 😦

& yeah, I’m still a little grouchy from my trip – I actually did have a great time despite the FB trailer park incident.

From El Paso to LA

Or from real life to fictional reality, where $$ rules the day here instead of being on government shutdown furlough.  Got out of there before Trump came to town to say, “Thanks for taking one for the team for my wall guys, you’re doing the right thing!”  In the meantime, the Christmas Visa bill is about to roll in.

It’s heartbreaking for me to travel through there sometimes, that’s my family down there at the border towns.  Both sets of my mom’s grandparents lived in Bisbee, AZ, she grew up with all her first cousins.  The difference was my grandma’s parents had some money.  My mom was able to go to University of Arizona, become a stewardess for American Airlines and get out of Bisbee at 18.  I was always jealous when I went there for the summer that my cousins got to grow up there and be “loved.”  While I grew up in Manhattan Beach with no family close by and a brutal social caste system of where you ranked in terms of what street you lived on and how much you weighed.

Honestly, those are “Problems of abundance” one of my super wealthy friends told me once.  My cousins didn’t end up in Bisbee, the copper mines shut down and they had to move too.  The job that provided a really good income for my grandpa with a decent retirement was gone soon after he passed away.  My mom’s generation had to scatter to the available jobs, which were at smelters, prisons and border patrol.

The cousins of my generation I’m still in touch with, one just picked me up in Las Cruces yesterday for breakfast and dropped me off at the hotel airport shuttle.  I love seeing them, they bring me back down to earth and always have.  One of her sisters told me once when we were kids she was jealous of my etch-a-sketch, the technology at the time.  When she told me that, I had the new  IPad in my purse.  We were laughing about how it never changes, but I really didn’t know how poor they were growing up.  One clue could have been a 2 bedroom house with 5 kids??

Another cousin is not doing well at all, she’s joined the ranks of the meth zombies.  I saw her last 4th of July, she was sober after one of her boys had OD’d.  She’s a few years younger than me and must look 20 years older.  She was so pretty, athletic, never had a chance.  She grew up in my great grandparents house (grandfather’s parents).  Her mom eventually sold the house for her own drug addictions.  She just lost another son who has 6 kids and was in prison.  The meth mom of the grandkids dropped them all off with her family and took off.  I don’t have one grandkid, she’s got maybe 10 already and is younger than me.

Maybe that’s an extreme case, it’s still pretty common in towns where there are no jobs.  The jobs that are there now, especially those border towns, are government jobs where they’re now on furlough too.

But I’m in Manhattan Beach now, where the Tesla’s & Range Rovers head West off of  Sepulveda and everyone is tan, rich and beautiful.

Don’t mean to sound bitter, it’s just an abrupt culture shock!!  I actually love it here, I’m a beach girl through & through – or at least a water girl.  I’m very lucky my mom left Bisbee when she did, or I would be the one on furlough or meth.  Problems of abundance, I mean that in an eye opening, grateful way.

One last (hopefully) Trump comment:  He’s known for not paying or thinking people should be paid at all, he could really give a shit about that part of it…who BTW is most of his base desperate for jobs.  That jacket he made Melania wear (or maybe she picked her own $30 statement jacket?) is how they are.  Although I have no opinion really about the wall, except $7mil is a tad overboard when the walls in place now are surrounded by mountains on either side, I do think screwing his base to get it makes a real statement.

That’s enough thinking for today, I gotta get outside!!

Stranger Danger

Usually I don’t talk to many people when I travel.  I wouldn’t call this traveling right now, I’ve been here a bunch to see my son with a little bit of a routine going when I’m here…  Walk the dog, grab whatever my son needs while I’m here, lunch, piano, then latte.  The dog will keep anyone at bay, she looks like a huntress ready to pounce.  I don’t worry about my son living alone with this dog around.  He’s getting a roommate, which will help him not be so lonely out here.

I found this music store that has a practice room I can rent by the hour for the price of a parking spot in Walnut Creek.  Last time I was here for an extended period I was able to go there every day.  When I finished practicing, I found a coffee shop a few blocks away on my phone map.  I kind of remembered the neighborhood wasn’t great, the coffee shop was cute though so I went there again yesterday.

After I got my latte I cracked open my Kindle to read the New Yorker and some guy asked me what book I was reading?  I looked up and told him the New Yorker, then he started a conversation with me about where else besides Amazon can you download books?  I told him Amazon owns Kindle and I just download from the store.  I wasn’t being rude, I was being friendly too.

He was probably mid-20’s?  I had noticed someone sitting outside with his dog when I walked in making sure to avoid him.  After I got my drink and started reading I forgot about the guy I avoided outside.  Inside he was friendly, thought he was a student.  He was blonde, very skinny, from Wisconson originally.  He wasn’t high, I didn’t feel threatened at all.  Just seemed like a lonely traveler to me so I engaged.  A few years ago my husband traveled through Europe alone and said the hardest part of the trip was he had no one to talk to.  I thought about that when I was talking to this guy.

He wasn’t a student, he was kind of a nomad.  We started talking about the meth problem in these states here when I told him about Ms. meth’s wild ride I had in Bisbee over the summer where I was REALLY scared because she was a wild card.  We were on a night hike when we ran into this girl who had been dumped by her boyfriend to walk home.  She used my cell (so they had my phone number), then proceeded to hold this hiking group hostage.  We gave her a ride “home” after walking her back to the car, first I wanted us to be dropped off at the restaurant and she said, “No!”  I said, “I’ve had enough of you, they’re dropping us off first.”  My reasoning was more that I didn’t want us four good samaritans to drive into a meth house, the whole experience made me feel like we were being set up.  I didn’t feel safe until she was gone, instead of sounding scared though, I came off as a bitch.

Then the guy at the coffee shop started telling me his experiences, how most people are good, how to talk down a meth head, when it clicked he was the guy outside I had slithered by because he had creeped me out.  He was telling me about how when he hitch hikes people seem nice until they pull up into a gas station a few miles later then want him to pay for gas.  He couch surfs a lot, told me there’s an actual website or app for it, when people get too high he’s able to talk them down without too much trouble.

As he was talking about his nomadic life, my mind started in on an exit plan wondering if I had given him any info on me?  My name is unusual, easy to find.  Nope, hadn’t exchanged names.  I wasn’t too scared though, he really did seem like a friendly guy who was just passing through.  Still, I don’t know how I look to others (like a target?).  I had my camera backpack with a nice purse sporting my Nordstrom Trunk clothes.  I dress just enough to have a cab driver in Bali charge $60 instead of $6.  Plus, I was in a really bad part of town.

As I was wondering how I was going to get out of there without being followed the few blocks to my son’s car, I got a txt from my cousins that saved the day.  He backed off when I said I was meeting cousins, then said goodbye and wandered off with his dog.  I waited a little while before I took off myself.

He wasn’t who I had to worry about, I still had to walk through this neighborhood to get to my car.  There were one room apartments, just a door with a room like a closet with bars on every window.  Boy did I feel like an idiot for walking through there, no one was on the streets the first few times I did it.  This time, people were out and looking at me.  I chose my route wisely, not physically walking by anyone that saw me.  A car slowed down when I quickly turned that corner to duck around, making him have to back up if he was slowing down for me.  What goes on in my mind when I’m totally freaked??  I just thought of how stupid I was for carrying around this camera, looking totally out of place and that I’d be lucky if someone didn’t just mug me right there because I was screaming for it.  I took the stuff out of the car with me so that the car wouldn’t be broken into.  In the Bay Area, anything you leave in a car is going to have a broken window when you get back.  Where I was walking, it would be much easier to just give me a good shove and take it then go through the trouble of breaking a window.

I made it back to the car in front of the music store.  When I told my son about it, he confirmed I was in the worst part of town.  Won’t be going to that coffee shop again!!

For the most part, I feel pretty safe everywhere I go…mostly because I don’t usually put myself in those types of situations.  There have only been a few, “Oh shit!!” moments.  I don’t think I was in danger at all talking to that guy – we had a guy follow us in Taipai my uncle was being friendly with, who I’m convinced was a nomad cannibal.  Actually, most of those moments have been traveling with my friendly uncle where I have to be the bitch.  This was the first time I was solo and scared, no one to blame but myself.

One more day here, then off to lala land.

100 mile road to Lordsburg

That was a long 3 days of driving, it could have been done in 2 but I stop along the way to see family.  My route goes through LA to see my mom for one night, then off to Arizona for the longest leg and stay at my uncle’s.  From there, I go on hwy 80  from the border to Lordsburg, the rest of the way on the 10 East.

Trying to veer away from politics on this blog, I’m pretty pissed I came all the way out here to miss seeing White Sands because of a government shutdown.  Before I took off I made sure the rest stops weren’t part of it too, luckily they aren’t.

Had an interesting incident in LA on 405 South right at the bottom of Sepulveda pass.  We were in the car pool lane, going the speed limit, when a CHP motorcycle pulled me over.  At first I thought it was just to go past me, then I saw him wave us over.  No shoulder, he pulled me over 5 lanes and blocked traffic for me.  Still no shoulder, he forced me onto the 101 North where the traffic was stand still.  My plan was to get off on the first exit, but before that could happen he looked inside the car and took off – leaving me stranded in traffic on a freeway out of my way.

I always try to time the LA traffic, that took me about a half hour or 45 minutes to get back on the 405 via side streets plunking me into the 405 traffic by the time I got back on track.  I couldn’t figure out why I was being pulled over??  Then I remembered that my son’s car has New Mexico plates on it, did he not know New Mexico was part of the U.S.??  Pull me over 5 lanes to dump me in a ton of traffic??  Wow.  When he looked in the window and saw we were white was when he took off.

Bisbee overlooking Mexico

The rest of the trip was just long.  From Bisbee, that stretch of road from the border is 100 miles of nothing – it is a nice drive though.  The only cars you see are border patrol with what looks like a tank with an huge antenna that must be an infrared camera to peer inside your car.  There’s no gas, no cell coverage, that hundred mile stretch to Lordsburg.


I don’t know what’s going on, or if they pick up immigrants along the way then deliver them to Lordsburg?  For anyone to make it all they way there with no food or water would be a miracle.  My mom bought me a Garmin InReach after I almost ran out of gas on that road when it was 105 degrees out with no cell coverage.

Now I’ll have to find something else to do besides White Sands.  It’s kinda nice to have a few days without news just listening to music.  Then when you do get back to the Trump tantrum saga it smacks you back down.  Unemployment is all-time low??  That’s someone who hasn’t been to San Francisco & Oakland to see how out of control the tents, living in cars and boats is right now.

As much as I’d like to think this Trump era will be over soon, HE’S STILL PRESIDENT, and he just blows a bunch of smoke out his ass and people believe him??  Can’t we just buy him a gold toilet seat and be done with the whole wall fiasco??

We’re in dangerous times if a president can shut down the rest of the government indefinitely to get his billions and throw obvious false figures out there.

What I see when I drive back and forth is people barely getting by, and a whole lot of white people on meth…no joke.

The Long Road to New Mexico

Which I haven’t even started yet, I’m still in bed drinking my 2nd cup of coffee before I rally to crank up the freezing car.  Driving my son and his dog back to Las Cruces, the super long trek that I’m going to take a few days to drive instead of powering through in a day…I can’t do that.

In the meantime, I stay at my mom’s then her brother’s house.  I’d stay one night in a hotel in maybe Phoenix if we didn’t have the dog with us, that slows us down a little.  There’s a nice dog friendly hotel in Phoenix we stayed at last year on the way back, it’s just that I don’t want to deal and my mom would freak if I drove anywhere near LA and didn’t stay with her.

So that’s the plan, braving the wild west in a Honda…

I have my keyboard packed for my mom’s house so I can still practice, have my camera & drone with me just in case something pops out.  One place I want to get some shots is White Sands, I keep going to the hot springs instead of that direction.  See if I have an extra hour drive in me when I get there?

The photography stuff is going to have to just be for me now, everyone’s a photographer. One little rant before I go, I posted my NY goals on my FB and someone new to FB – who I haven’t seen since 6th grade – started giving me “advice” on my little songwriting goal.  The link was helpful, it’s just really frustrating when someone googles stuff to give me “advice.”  With my drone business, I’d say some technology really wasn’t available yet and someone would send me a google link proving it was available.  Thank you.

I’ve been (badly) playing piano for over 10 years now, pretty sure I know at least a little about music??  2019 is going to be not listening to manspeak!!

And she’s off!!!

Happy New Year!!

Past Winter Solstice, made it through Christmas, now to look forward to longer days and a really long drive!!  Kicking the New Year off with a drive back to New Mexico, as soon as the car is fixed.  The NYE plan was to anchor by Treasure Island to watch the San Francisco fireworks until I saw the forecast of 50mph winds.  No thanks on being cold, miserable, then losing anchorage in the middle of the night.  Took a bath after dinner and woke up when the dogs started barking at the fireworks.

I’ll be on the road most of January, kind of like my MIA in May except for without my truck.  I’ll have my nice camera with me, try to get some shots in between driving all over the SouthWest again.

This is really the first time in my life I’ve had a lot of freedom… Last year I was still working with my drone business up until maybe March?  I never really feel like I can get away, something always comes up.  2018 was all about the engagement and wedding (which we still haven’t had, besides the quick courthouse wedding).  Then they moved back in, so I had to adjust to that and switch gears from new carpets to a Bissell pet stain remover for the dog.  December has been all about dog chaos at our house with 2 dogs here.

I’ll say one thing about the dogs, especially my son’s dog, she needs walks.  When I’m in New Mexico she knocks my second cup of coffee out of my hand for her walk and doesn’t back down until we’re out the door.  Her favorite walk here is the Lafayette reservoir, we’ve been trying to take her a few times a week.

Can’t complain though, even if I didn’t do much traveling I did a lot of sailing.  Was probably out on the boat twice a week with 30 knot plus winds all summer.  Have to do some calculations, but I should be pretty close to having my days in for my captains license.  Learned about fuel calculations, replacing a fuel sender, replacing an anchor line, filters, fuel leaks, what do do in a split second when there’s no rudder and the bow goes downwind in the marina, how to react in a split second when someone throws you the line attached to the boat while you’re tying up the other side on the dock, what to say to someone who insists you don’t have the sails trimmed and the boat is going backwards when it’s actually all good they just want to question your ability.  Lots of sailing lessons!!

Looking forward to more sailing, maybe to SoCal to spend time with my mom (and have a reprieve if I need it).  That I will need able crew for, don’t trust that I won’t be barfing the whole way.  Supposedly even if you don’t get sea sick, the swells will nail you.

Be off-line for about a week while I road trip…

Happy New Year!!!

New Years Goals

Every year I try and make some goals for the new year, sometimes I write them on paper and look at them from year to year to see if I accomplished anything.  One of the biggies from awhile ago was really learning how to sail and buying a boat – mission accomplished.  Some other things on my list (some wishes) was a house that was on the market in Bisbee, AZ for years, an original craftsman from 1906.  That’s been sold, not a dream I share with the rest of my family.

This year I’ve dialed it back a few notches, just to spending some time with my mom.  She’s gotta be lonely, she’s lost all of her friends.  She was talking about assisted living for years, in an effort to not be a pain to us.  The plan was to rent her house to pay for the difference, I just can’t see it though.  She has a few (surviving) friends close by and a few of our childhood friends are living in their childhood homes again after their parents have passed away, they check in on her all the time.  We have a full house or she could move in with us…as I type we’re waiting for the plumber, the house is falling apart!!

This past year I bought a keyboard and a bike for hanging out at her house for extended periods.  Right now they’re at our house, she forgets to close the garage door sometimes and I’m worried the bike will be stolen.  She’s pretty funny about keeping things at her house, I used to have a “vacation corner” of her garage with beach chairs, a bike, some surf boards.  She would mention it EVERY SINGLE TIME I talked to her, “When are you going to get this stuff out of here?”  I cleared it all out, except the beach chair.   I barely go in my kids rooms, I have no idea what they’ve left here when they move back & forth on their own journeys.

Other goals include keeping up with my piano, possibly writing a song that no one will ever hear.  I can’t tell if the lessons are helping or not?  I’m still practicing almost an hour a day, the pieces I play are hard so it’s hard to tell unless I play something easy.  My music theory is really rusty, when the piano teacher says what note am I playing it takes me a few seconds to even recall it.  I still start from C to go back & forth to figure it out like I did when I was 10yrs old.  In that regard, I’m not getting any better.

One thing after “retiring,” I no longer have career goals.  The pictures I take, my sewing projects, are all just for family now.  Writing, photography, sewing have always been things I’ve dabbled with off & on throughout my life thinking they’d lead to something career wise.  Now I don’t need to worry about it and can just kick back to enjoy it.

I actually do want to get my captains license for sailing.  My son & I took a group out yesterday for a BBQ on Angel Island, it would be fun for us to actually charge for events like that and Fleet Week.  He likes sailing, I like the name “Captain Heller.”  Last year was IFR rating that never happened…oops.  That was mostly due to flying below clouds to get somewhere for a really bumpy ride.  I don’t want to fly in bad weather…ever.

This years journey starts with the long drive back to New Mexico, then flying back to LA to spend some time with my mom.  I’ll be a bit of a nomad through January, something I never really get to do.  When I first got my pilot’s license, my plan was to buy a plane to be a nomad.  I thought I’d fly all over to see relatives and freeload, when they asked when I was going to leave I’d say, “I don’t know?”  I’ll have to take that off the list, my family doesn’t like small planes.

So not big goals, just getting through the year un-injured and spending time with my mom.  My surfing days may be numbered, I’m afraid to break my ribs again.  No sports goals for once, unless sailing counts as a sport.  Just keep on choog’lin.