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Goodbye Michigan -
Hello Chicago & KC

January 27-28, 2012 San Francisco, California, Nevada on Amtrak

Dear Students,

On Thursday night I packed up my suitcase and back pack getting ready for my departure at 6:00 am on Friday morning. I went down to the corner store and bought some food to take with me on the train – diet cola, quick fix noodles, easy open cans of soup, sunflower seeds, and crackers.

My room at the Adelaide Hostel sleeps 10 people – and I was in bunk #6 a bottom bunk – I was glad they didn’t put this old man on the top bunk. I noticed that during the day several of my roommates moved out to other rooms and the house cleaning staff reset the bunks and got everything ready for new guests. Just as I got organized, six new young college age people showed up – three guys and 3 gals. As you saw in my picture, the bunks had heavy curtain so the beds could be private and this room “Golden Gate” was designated for both men and women. This group had driven up from Los Angles for the weekend to party in San Francisco. We all got acquainted and they prepared to go out for the evening.

It was getting late but I couldn’t get to sleep. Then I started worrying that if I did fall asleep, I wouldn't get up in time in the morning – I didn’t have an alarm to wake me – finally at 3:00 am I got up and moved my stuff into the common room and used the computer, visited with several other people, and ate some oatmeal for breakfast. At 6:00 am I checked out, got my two bags from storage, and caught a taxi to the Amtrak station.

I had a nice visit with Angelina, the station master who is also a Nun with Grace Catholic Church. She told me where I could buy some fruit and sandwiches for the trip.

The first short leg of the trip was to take a bus across the bay to Emeryville where we would catch the California Zephyr #6 train (better look up that word zephyr). The train got to the station on time, I got on and the realized I had left a bag in the station! Panic – I got off and ran – sure enough there it was – got it and made a mad dash back – getting on with a few minutes to spare. I am beginning to worry about me. . .

The rail part of the trip has gone very well after I got the bag I forgot. The train was almost completely filled – just one or two seats left open and I was told those would be filled at the next stop or two. There was one group of older (my age) African-Americans that was having a great time – with some music, singing, and some dancing. I was coming back from the observation car and kind of danced my way around one fair sized lady much to the amusement of the rest of the group – we were laughing and joking. This was quite a contrast to the encounter yesterday on the bus and in my mind the way things should be.

After observing others and picking up bits of conversation, I realized that many of these people were going to Reno, Nevada for the weekend to gamble – since gambling is legal in Nevada but not in California. The observation car had been filled with some of the people having beers and drinks even early in the day.

At Richmond, CO I picked up a seat mate – Brian Park that was a website developer and we had a great conversation about IT until he got off several hours later at Sacramento. We talked a lot about China and his hopes to visit there in the future.

We crossed the boarder between California (the gold state) and Nevada (the silver state) in early afternoon and at 4:00 pm about half the passengers got off at Reno for their weekend of gambling and parties. They can catch the return train on Sunday or Monday.

The journey out of California was through beautiful pine tree covered mountains covered this year with a light snow. It was beautiful – pictures attached. Nevada and Utah are characterized as the Great Basin – a low area, with little water, few trees, and desert conditions. Much of this part of the journey is through harsh land, sparsely populated, with few man made structures.

Saturday January 28, 2012 Amtrak - Nevada, Utah, and Colorado

The night went pretty well since I didn’t get much sleep the night before and had plenty of room with the empty seat beside me. There were only a few stops in this empty land – Elko, NV @ 9:30 pm; Salt Lake City, UT @ 3:00 am; Provo, UT @ 4:30 am; it was dark, not much to see or take pictures of.

At Helper, Utah I called my sister and let her know my estimated time of arrival in Grand Junction, Colorado – the train is running about 20 minutes late. Adelaide said that was good – sometimes it was 4 hours or more late.

It is 8:28 am and we are at Green River UT. We are 1 hour and 45 minutes to Grand Junction, Colorado. We are now approaching the Rocky Mountains and the scenery is spectacular – buttes, mesas, plateaus, gulches, canyons, cap rocks, rim rocks, ridges, exotic and colorful rock formations. We are starting the climb to the Grand Valley and the source of the Colorado River.

Grand Junction City is just 25 miles from the Colorado - Utah boarder. Because of the Great Basin to the west of them they only get about 9 inches of rain a year, mostly in March and April. The thing that makes the Grand Valley an agricultural paradise is the Colorado River that originates high in the Rocky Mountains and brings snow melt water through the valley which can be used to grow valuable crops, fruits, and animals.

I arrived in Grand Junction at 10:15 am - about 10 minutes ahead of time. My sister and her husband was there to greet me and take me to their home.

I am sending another email with additional pictures as there were to many pictures for this one email.

More about the Saturday in another email abd then an email for Sunday.


1. Angelina @ Amtrak

2. Fog on the bridge

3. The Zephyr arrives at the station

4. Along the Shore

5. Observation car

6. Donner Pass

7. Train Station

8. River-Hills

9. Reno Station

10. Reno Casino