Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Semi-happy Return

Plan A worked this morning. I was out of the motel early enough to have breakfast at the legendary Sambo's. Banana Pecan Caramel pancakes sounded good, and while the taste was fine, the pancakes were thin and the pecans few and far between. Side of sausages were excellent. Service was spotty, especially when it came time to get my check. Not really a problem because I had two hours before the train was due, and nothing else to do.

Took my time walking to the train station with a very heavy backpack. Most of the weight was my laptop bag. Need to remember to pare that down, next time. It was already hot out, my phone's weather widget lied, said it was 57° so I wore my Sharks jacket to the restaurant, but packed it away before leaving there. It was more like 72°. And the sun was brutal.

Probably because they thought it would discourage the many homeless people who hang out there, they have removed all the benches from the large shady outdoor section of the station. Homeless don't mind, they just sit on their bedrolls. I found a bench around the side to sit on, but eventually moved indoors because people were setting fire to sticks of paper-wrapped tobacco.

It was a bit of a hike to get from the station to my sleeper car, but the attendant knew my name and had made a lunch reservation for me. Train was half an hour late, so at first this seemed like a Good Thing. It was in 15 minutes. I got there, and they assigned me the aisle seat, across from a French couple who spoke very little English, and next to a m iddle-aged man. The waiter took our orders, then claimed he could only find 3 of the 4 slips. So he filled out a 5th and had the French woman sign it. These slips are about a foot long, maybe 4 inches wide, and are in duplicate. You can't lose one. Looks like someone is padding his numbers.

As soon as he left, the man next to me introduced himself to the French couple, and aggressively left me out of the conversation, which he conducted in the most godawful French. Sounded like he had a year of it in high school, and no ear for the accent. All this was pissing me off, when the scenery changed from urban to ocean. I got up and left, went back to my compartment. I had bought a soda at the station, and had a couple of goodies from the motel's incontinental breakfast to munch on, plus some cookies and crackers if I got real hungry.

And took pictures, and generally admired the scenery. And pondered whether I should have excused myself in French to the couple before I left. Nah, let 'em wonder.

We were sidelined twice along the way, once for the Surfliner, once for Union Pacific. And we rarely reached full speed - UP must have been playing games with the signals again.

After a while I hiked the 6 cars to the lounge and bought a hot dog and a soda at the snack bar, and watched the scenery on the shady side of the train. Lots of places to sit, unlike the parlor car. Unlike the trip down.

Dinner was a different kind of adventure. I got the window seat facing LOD, with a very nice retired-but-younger-than-me couple across from me. Just as I was sitting down there was a commotion at the table behind me, where three young women in Muslim attire were talking very loudly, in a bit of a panic about something. Apparently one of them had hurt her hand badly, the women went back to their compartment in a hurry, and the waiter came back to tell us they would be arranging to meet an ambulance.

We were stopped in the middle of nowhere three or four times while we were eating, but didn't see any sign of an ambulance. The stop near King City seemed a likely place, but nada. We were seated on the side with a view of the freeway.

Had to put the camera away soon after dinner, what with being on the west side of the train and the windows were, as usual, filthy.

Gave me a chance to give a chance to an author Janice had recommended. Caroline Graham, her Chief Inspector Barnaby series. Most of them are older than Kindle, but I started on the oldest one which is, Faithful Unto Death. Janice compared it to Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series. From 10,000 feet they are comparable, both set in small town England, the main characters a Chief Inspector and his staff, with a murder most foul to solve. Another comparison is that it's not always pegged as a murder right away.

The differences are enormous. Rendell writes like Bradbury, she omits needless words, and is scrupulous in finding the right ones. Her characters are introduced as they occur in the plot, with enough detail to tell them apart but not enough to overwhelm the reader. And she is clear about where a chapter or section ends and a new scene begins. Her descriptions of the homes, gardens and landscape are just enough to paint a basic picture and plant a clue when needed. Graham, on the other hand, packs as many words into a sentence as she can, preferring to use slang and England Countryside jargon instead of plain English. Her descriptions of houses and gardens require both a Comprehensive Flora of the British Isles and the color swatch pages from every British paint manufacturer. Her characters seem to pop in out of nowhere for a paragraph or two, only to return a few chapters later in a setting we don't recognize.

I think I'll finish this one, just to see how she resolves the suicide-which-is-probably-a-murder, the disappearance-which-may-be-an-abduction, the disappearance-which-may-be-a-murder and how many shades of blue she can name in 400 pages.

The train was later and later as we pushed north, we arrived in San Jose almost exactly an hour late. About 10 pm, which is pretty reasonable since I was parked in the Amtrak lot. Not so bad if I had taken light rail.

Home, unpacked, uploaded the photos to the PC. Filled in missing GPS data, cropped a few, decided I don't have time tonight the clean them up and post on Flickr. I am very happy with one shot taken on the boat ride, of Christina the 2nd mate. Actually I'm happy with most of them, but this one in particular.

Plans for tomorrow:
Process & post photos


  • Briefly

    I still have to change out the litterbox. Gave myself a haircut. No hair on top but the ring around the back was getting pretty ragged. The usual…

  • OCD Shopping

    No more bananas so breakfast was an apple turnover and an egg. Yesterday I could not make curry because I was out of water chestnuts, green peas and…

  • Damned stupid Nissan GPS

    No time for breakfast because the 10 am endo appointment was an hour away. But when I punched in the address, car GPS said there was no such number.…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded