Tag: train

Long and Lonely Views – A Train to Nowhere

Long and Lonely Views – A Train to Nowhere

Where are those places in which you feel at home, feel like your true self? What do the landscapes that tug at your heart and anchor you look like? Have you found mind-expanding inspiration in a particular environment?

I never expected to feel so inspired by the wide-open expanse of the desert areas in the American West. The vast open area stirs something deep within me. It’s as if the big sky reaches down to the horizon line, follows long-runnin’ tracks across the Earth, up through my feet and straight into my heart.

long train tank cars rice california

As someone who fears dark water and not being able to see what lies beneath, at first blush I thought perhaps the scrubby desert-scape is the antithesis of that. Everything is out in the open and available to be drunk in by your eyes.

yamaha fz07 on californai route 62

But this is a trick your own mind plays on you. The dry range holds many secrets in the ripples and folds of its surface. As in so many things, we need to learn to see beyond the way we think something is, to the way it really is.

yamaha mt07 on route 62 near rice california - train cars

These photos were snapped along California 62, near what the map said was the “town” of Rice. There wasn’t much doin’ out there – just some train cars, tracks, and a few other odd remnants of humanity. While short on the trappings of society, it was big on thinkin’ room.

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Sleeping in a caboose is one of the items that has been on my life’s To Do list for many years. How it ended up there, at this point I can’t say. It’s not like I’m not a railroad fanatic or anything. No doubt I stumbled across the existence of a caboose motel and said fun! and the idea stuck around.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I hadn’t planned on that being that day that I would sleep in a caboose. But, a few cups of coffee and 200 miles later, I found myself in the belly of the Reading caboose #21. ::shrug::

Sadly, my car isn’t as photogenic as my motorcycle.

Upon check-in at the Red Caboose Motel, the friendly desk clerk addressed me as if there were an “us,” a “you guys” and a “you all.” As you might imagine, this place is popular with families, so I don’t blame her.

“Have you guys stayed with us before?”
“Nope, first time.”
“Well, welcome aboard! Woo woo!”

Yep. She really woo-wooed, pulling the imaginary cord that sounds the horn. It’s nice when people are excited about life.

If I had to guess, a lot of solo 40-something women don’t come wheeling into the caboose motel on a Saturday night. And so I didn’t bother to correct her on my non-us-ness. About an hour later when I saw her again, she said cheerfully said, “is everything okay with you guys in your caboo… you’re alone, aren’t you. Sorry. Habit.” I’m starting to get a complex. You can’t make this stuff up.

As I said, this motel is very family friendly. It has an arcade, a silo observation tower, playground, buggy rides, ice cream and a few barnyard animals for petting.

Though I felt a little out of place with no kidlet of my own, I spent some time at the animal pens with the mini horses. As gaggles of children descended to tug on animal ears and manes – there I was, trying to telepathically communicate with the animals. I felt it was important that they knew that I was only there to love them up gently and that they should stay with me ‘cuz I love them best.

But apparently, they don’t have time for small talk, even if telepathically, when you don’t come with 25¢ worth of yum-yum pellets from the vending machine. I never seem to have any change when I actually want it.

While trying to make nice with a fuzzy gray horse, I watched the families at the other end of the corral. Looking on, I wondered why any parent would just allow their tiny toddler to put their deliciously chubby digits into some strange animals face unobserved.

Maybe I’m overly cautious, but it seems to me that when your two-year-old is touching an animal that is at least four times their size, you might want to put your fucking phone down and pay attention. I watched one dad yap nonstop on his phone while his little girl, face plugged with a pacifier, ran up and down along the fence “petting” the other mini horses. Later on, I heard crying and the words “…is a nipper,” floating above the general conversation. Oh, well.

People move in and out of my office all day tugging at my attention. Maybe if I start biting they’ll leave me alone, too.

The interior of my Queen Couples caboose looked like a tiny log cabin. It was clean and comfortable with cable, WiFi, a table to write at, a microwave, comfortable bed, and no funny smells. As nighttime inked the sky black, the wind outside picked up. The lack of insulation in the train was apparent in both the noise and the occasional draft. Not that it was bothersome, just something I was aware of. It felt like a reminder that I was sleeping in unusual quarters.

I enjoyed the novelty of my stay in the caboose. Seeing them all lined up, end to end with their candy colors brings out a child-like cheerfulness. It was worth the trip.

The Red Caboose Motel
312 Paradise Lane
Ronks, PA 17572

The Merci Boxcar of Welch, West Virginia

The Merci Boxcar of Welch, West Virginia

While my good riding buddy Joe and I were cruising around the greater Welch, WV area – as we pulled in to town I spotted the unmistakable sight of a Merci boxcar and quickly pulled in to the little park.

I recently learned about the Merci boxcars from the Team Strange Love and Merci Grand Tour that’s going on. Team Strange are the folks that hosted the Whispering Giants Grand Tour that I participated in a couple of years ago.

Something about the train car looks so sweet, so charming to me. It has a delicate, almost toy-like quality to it. Serendipitously stumbling across one of the 40-ish boxcars was a treat.

Over the years people have asked “how do you find this stuff?” And while I do go looking for certain things – others just seem to find me. Merci, universe!

The Welch, WV Merci boxcar:

The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii.

— MerciTrain.org

More about the Merci Train:

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