Smoke Stop: Eugene, Oregon
I stepped out a second too late.
A good portion of the train ride on the Coast Starlight was narrated by a very cool guy who had lived in the area all his life. He used to fly planes in Northern California and Oregon, so he knew an incredible amount of information about the remote areas this train takes you through.
At the same time, apparently, some dude was also busy in the sight seers lounge getting drunk and agitated, and may have made a threat against one of the conductors who cut him off. I can’t say for certain he actually did, but that’s just how rumors spread on trains I guess. Regardless, in Eugene it was time for that rad, old, tour guide to get off the train, grab dinner, and board the next south-bound Coast Starlight to do his talk once more but in reverse order. I’ve set a reminder for when I’m 60 to try and land that job.
But, while he was getting off the train, that drunk guy from before was being kicked off as well! I guess Eugene police don’t play around, because the guy was on the ground in handcuffs when the line of people I was stuck in finally made it off. My shot of the arrest didn’t turn out, and I thought long and hard about whether I should post it anyway. I figure that dude had a rough enough day as it is without me posting it on tumblr.
The whirl of people and nicotine clouds surrounding the event wasn’t unlike every other arrest I’ve seen, though. There were onlookers and rubberneckers in the first few seconds of the commotion, sure. A lot of talk about what he did to get himself in that situation. But gradually people stopped being interested. They started looking away, then others saw those people looking away and decided to follow their lead, and soon the cop car was leaving and it was like nothing had happened. It’d be time to get on the train again soon enough, so why waste precious time on some dude getting kicked off a train?
Smoke Stop: Alpine, Texas
I met up with some hikers who were taking the amtrak specifically to Alpine to hike Big Bend. They had literally every piece of equipment you could think of for camping, which I’m sure served them well and kept them comfortable for their two-day hike. We were hanging out in the sight seers lounge prior to them getting off, and they were amazed that I had managed to sleep outside at Government Canyon with no tent or sleeping bag, not get mauled to death by coyotes, and then hike six hours straight with a bike on my shoulder and only one water bottle.
Man, what was some gratuitous bragging just there, but I’m really a fan of pushing limits and doing more with less, if only because I was too stupid and cocky to consider bringing anything of use. Maybe history isn’t told by the ones who win. Maybe t’s told by the dummies who somehow didn’t die and are proud of that.
Smoke Stop: Shelby, Montana
So, you know, I’m back from this trip now. It’s been weird being back in Chicago, and I was greeted to a ton of work being back. But honestly, I have the itch to get up and go again. Maybe I should just keep doing this forever? I love that so many people have found out about this project and want to see more, and have me go more places. And, all in the last two weeks it seems.
I’ve been going through a lot of the photos, and there were so many good moments I didn’t really include from each train’s designated smoke stops. I don’t even smoke, I just wanted to stretch my legs and get off the train I’d been on for however many hours, so it was easy to dismiss how important these things are to #trainlife.
The smoke stop deserves a lot more credit than I give! Traveling through the US usually means either a short plane flight, or a drive where you can stop anywhere you want, but the Amtrak denies you both of these luxuries. The smoke stop is your only escape. It’s the only time you can leave the AC, stretch, obviously smoke if you do that, and be somewhere new. You’re suddenly in this place you had no intention of going to. Once you walk past the clouds of cancer, there’s a surprising amount of local culture to take in right around, what might be, the only transit hub the town has.
So, I’m going to start posting these smaller sets I think. Just a couple of photos of these little towns, really. They’re places that only I, and the other smokers, got to experience. Whether it was by impulse or by addiction, it beats just remaining in our seats, waiting for the train to leave.
It was our reward for getting up and doing something.
"JUST GET ON A TRAIN AND FIND THINGS."
That's all the planning there is.
Using Amtrak to travel around the western US, this 15 day train trip is a chance to circle America, explore new areas throughout the country, have surprising adventures, and document the experiences.
Taking only a few cameras, a bicycle, and a change of clothes, each stop on the route is a full day's worth of adventure. The day's train ride between destinations is a chance to talk to strangers, recuperate, and (of course) blog here.
This blog serves as a photo-journal of the trip. Thoughts, stories, and photos of the trip will be posted whenever there's signal.