Our Train Adventure

(Posting to both blogs … because I can.)

I haven’t really written much since our return from New York and the IDRS convention. Between our house remodel, recovering from the trip, and other fun but tiring things, I’ve just not had the energy. But now I’ll at least try to write a wee bit about our train adventure.

Yes. Train.

We began in Emeryville. The Amtrak train station there is small, and there is really no security at all. I guess trains aren’t like planes at all! We had decided to fly out to New York, knowing it would take more time, but would also mean we’d see parts of the country one can only see from a train. I loved it!

Here … have some train music …

Sinten Nunggang Sepur (Who Is Riding the Train) by Heni Primastono – The NUSChoir

We did it up fancy, getting the larger sleeper car. Food is included, so while it was pretty darn costly, at least we didn’t have to think about the food. Of course by the time you’ve been on a train for three days and two nights you just might repeat meals, especially if you don’t eat red meat. I was fine with the food, though. My only issue was that I ate far too much of it! (I’ve always had a difficult time turning down things that seemed “free”. Funny, that.) I took a lot of iPhone photos from the train, and a few with my Fujifilm X-E1 as well. I’ve only had time to briefly glance at them. Most are blurred … but that’s to be expected, I think.

Sleeping on the upper bunk is a challenge on the California Zephyr. There isn’t much head room, and crawling my way into bed was probably laughable had anyone been watching. Once I was there, though, it was fine. I slept okay, considering we were on a moving train.

Trains aren’t in a rush. I like that. I like that I can do nothing about time. It causes me to just go with the flow. For the most part I handled that well.

Ah, but the SMELL. Sigh. At one point in our trip the smell of what I can only think is sewage was so strong I thought I was going to go nuts. Truly. I looked online and read that others have had that issue as well. I guess so many people in a train and the use of bathrooms … well … you get the idea. They need to work on that. I don’t think I’d want to do a long trip again if I only thought about that awful, awful smell!

The California Zephyr landed in Chicago, and we enjoyed a two night stay there. Unfortunately the Lollapalooza festival was in the city, so we didn’t get a true feel for it. As far as I’m concerned it’s full of frat boys, sorority sisters, and lots of VERY short shorts, bizarre shirts worn by guys (disco, anyone?), retro 70s clothing (I should have kept my clothes and sold them there), and other bizarre outfits including one guy in overall short shorts and a sailor hat. The crowds were rather huge, but we avoided them when possible. We went to the Art Institute (Yes, I finally saw Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte!), saw amazing architecture (yes, we took the River Cruise!), and tried some Chicago deep dish pizza. I do hope we can return sometime.

Here … have some more train music with the King’s Singers:

From there we took the Lake Shore Limited to New York. I read that it is frequently called the Late Shore Limited. For good reason. It was quite late by the time we arrived in New York. We did finally grow weary of the train when we were stuck in a “dead train” in Albany: they split the train and half heads to Boston. There was no engine for our half or some such thing, and we waited and waited. Some riders were upset, and one was just ridiculously rude to our attendant, who deserved a medal for his patience. The food? Well, it’s the same menu as the California Zephyr. Variety might have been nice, but no biggie, as it’s only an overnight trip, and included just breakfast and lunch. (Due to a late train a dinner might have been nice, but I guess they don’t do that.) The bed was much easier to get into, since it’s a one level train and there’s so much more head room. The train, though, is old and things were breaking. Our bathroom door wouldn’t stay closed at all.

Odd, funny, or bizarre things:

I felt like a school girl doing the wrong thing in the dining car. I ordered sausage and then realized I hadn’t specified the chicken sausage and my server yelled out “WHITE OUT!” and had to redo my order. One must not dilly dally when ordering, either. It’s like “This is a no nonsense train and don’t you dare take up my time with your indecision!” I learned to come in with a good idea of what I wanted. It was also interesting to see that once they knew we were from the sleeper car we were treated a bit more politely than those from coach. (Long story about that with another person at our table, but I’m too lazy to write about it at the moment.) Someone else had filled out their order and got in a bit of trouble because we aren’t to do that. We are only to put our name and room number down, but they don’t tell you that plainly so how are we to know?! Ah well. I was, in fact, rather dismayed at being treated rather rudely. That being said, I can’t imagine the job is a fun one. Our California Zephyr attendant was only courteous after we tipped her the first time. Our Lake Shore Limited attendant was nice from the start (I wrote a letter to Amtrak about him, he was so good).

Below are just some shots from the first part of our trip up until Ottumwa. I’ve run out of steam so I think I’ll stop now!











… and then there was the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens!

I suppose I should quickly post some of these while I have the time! I LOVE this place. I love it so much I visited it four times during the week. I love it enough to buy the annual membership. I’m really hoping Dan and I can get back up there. He missed out and couldn’t be there during the festival due to the remodeling. I think he deserves a trip.

Yep. I’m only thinking of him. ;-)





Mendo, Bee On Borage

MCBG- Agapanthus, Mood Indigo, 7.21.14

MCBG- Hanging Begonia I, 7.23.14

MCBG- Unidentified Plant, 7.21.14

Too Long

Gee, I’ve not put anything up here for a while. That’s what a music festival will do, I guess! I was at the Mendocino Music Festival last week. It was great fun! I had a good amount of free time. One day I took a hike in the Van Damme State Park. Here are a few, not-so-great shots from there.

While I was walking I met a couple who were visiting from Germany. It was wonderful to chat with them. I hope they had a great time! (And Barbara, if you read this … hi! Feel free to contact me if you come to my area!)






Goodbye, Old Room!

These are awful iPhone shots: I don’t know why they are all blurry — iPhone usually does well with silly shots like these. But here is our family room. Tomorrow it will be torn apart. We are ridding the room of the bulky bricks and wood burning stove. Yes, a stove is a handy thing … if you live in the woods and don’t have to worry about pollution and all that. But here? We haven’t used it since the month my father died (2007). It’s time. The grass cloth walls? Some people think they look cool. So did we. In 1980. We are done with them. The horrendous carpet that I said we’d dump after the kids weren’t babies and were no longer spitting up on the floor? Well, our youngest baby is soon to turn 25. The corner window that has never had a decent screen and seemed as if it was in a very odd location? DONE. Instead we will have two longer windows, each three feet or so from the side walls, looking out on our backyard (which means maybe we’ll have to keep it up a bit more!). The kitchen windows that we’ve never liked, with those ugly shutters that never worked? Adios! Two windows to match all the rest of the house, thank you very much.


So goodbye, old room. We have wonderful memories. Babies crawling all over it and spitting up on a carpet I hated. No problem! Grandparents over for birthdays and holidays. Wonderful! I especially loved the times when kids had sleep overs and they all camped out in you and we, at the other end of the house, didn’t really hear a thing! I have memories of Star Trek marathons and Christmas tree decorating and some mighty fun parties. But now? I look forward to the next phase!







Crossover Artists Post

Yep. This is a crossover post. It can fit on either oboeinsight or here. So I’ll post it both places. Just because.

I leave for the Mendocino Festival on Sunday morning. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m looking forward to it. I’m busy packing in my head. I’m planning. Oh, and there’s that practicing thing too!

We stay at people’s homes. I’ve “met” my host via email. She sounds like she will be quite comfortable to stay with. I’m a bit apprehensive, just because I’m an introvert, but I’m actually dealing quite well with that. Guess age can help with some things!

When I go on trips I “pack in my head” for weeks on end. I don’t actually stuff things in a suitcase (or, in my case, my Osprey Porter Travel Duffle, 46-Liter. (That thing carries enough that I used it for our three week trip to Europe! I refuse to check luggage unless I’m traveling with reed making equipment … and WHY would I ever travel with that stuff?!)

Now I have to figure out what to do for food. She allows me access to her kitchen, but as anyone who knows me knows, I’m not much of a cook. I can cook. I just don’t like to. But I also don’t want to go out and spend money. My natural, somewhat silly and not terribly healthy way of dealing is to just not eat if I have no leftovers available. I know I can’t really do that for a full week! So I’m pondering what to do. I think I’ll hit up Trader Joe’s and find pre-made dinners that would be tremendously easy to prepare. Like “Open box. Eat.” prepare. If that’s possible.

I’m also quite excited about getting back to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Dan and I visited two years ago and I was entranced. This time I know more about photography, so I’m looking forward to what I’ll find. Stay tuned for flower photos!

From 2012:

Shortly after I get home the IDRS convention begins. I can’t go to these every year, but I did want to go this year. After all, it’s in New York. I have family in New York! Makes perfect sense to mix business with pleasure, right? Or something. Of course August isn’t the best of months to be in NYC, but I’ll deal. I do plan on blogging live from classes there if I have internet access. I would assume they will provide that on the NYU campus.

I suppose I’ll be “packing in my head” for New York while I’m in Mendocino. What a contrast the two places will be. Quaint, calm but very cool Mendocino and then buzzing, crazy, hot and humid New York! I am guessing I’ll bring very different wardrobes for these two places!

Meanwhile … today is a “clean out the entire family room and move the living room furniture against the east wall” sort of day. Tomorrow the noise of new windows and wallboard begins. My oboe students who have opted to come during construction, rather than moving to today, will get to do the “can an oboe really be THAT loud?” thing.

Last Year

A year ago we were in Germany, and at this point we had landed in Schönau am Königssee. From there we took day trips to so many wonderful places, ate fantastic food, and saw amazing scenery as well as beautiful buildings. What fantastic memories, and how I’d love to return.

For one thing, I LOVE Mozartkugel and did I buy even one while in Salzburg? No.

Stupid, stupid me!

I think this means I should go back as soon as possible.





Living in Chaos!

We have now nearly emptied the family room, and the living room only has the large furniture in it. It’s still hard for me to believe we really are redoing the family room and getting new windows in both that room and the living room, but they are scheduled to arrive this Wednesday so I guess I’ll believe it soon! The story is it will take maybe five days. Since they don’t work on Saturday and Sunday, and I leave for Mendocino on Sunday, I won’t see the results until I return from the music festival. Poor Dan will have to stay home and hold down the fort.

This week will be spent not only preparing for Mendocino, but also preparing for the IDRS convention which is in August. What a crazy summer this is turning out to be!

I think Photography will take a back seat this week, and walks will have to do the same. I hope I can at least manage a few, but I’m sure they won’t be lengthy walks. I’m sure I”ll survive, but I know I’ll miss them.

Here are a few shots I’ve recently posted over on Google+.