Amtrak from New Mexico to New York


August 9th–Today I spent mostly in the company of my own waiting. After I said goodbye to our host and then to Cathy, who dropped me off in Lamy, I walked around a little to the museum which was hosting a memorial that morning. The melancholy sounds of the pipes brought be over there. The whole railroad facility was like a setting of an old movie… dirt road and all.

Unfortunately, what the dispatches called a “trespasser” (vs a pedestrian) was hit and killed by our train just after Albuquerque so the train was delayed about four hours. Instead of a three hour wait I had a seven hour wait. I mainly just read my book about UN “lifer” Sergio Vieira de Mello (Chasing the Flame One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power.) It has given me an important insight into the UN’s mission and performance from Lebanon up until the Coalition period of the Gulf War when Vieira de Mello was killed. Seeing all the conflicts through his placements makes me think how badly all the horrible conflicts in the world have been handled and how the genocides and refugee crises could have been abbreviated if we had a more flexible, inclusive and supported United Nations. Despite my fascinating book it was a long day.
Once boarded we only had a few hours of Northern New Mexico to appreciate before a glorious sunset, complete with rainbows and a lightning storm and then the dark. I dread the long night of trying to sleep sitting up but at least I’m plenty tired from not sleeping well last night.

Poor Amtrak, besides occasionally murdering the unwary or suicidal, they are underfunded and often apologizing for being late. I’ll get into Chicago much later than I’d thought so won’t have the long lay over I wasn’t sure how to take advantage of.
Today was the Nagasaki Observance up at Los Alamos and I wish I could have joined those marching and vigiling at the gates of hell but instead I just sunk into a lazy patience and the day passed as uneventfully as the last century and a half has on my section of track.
August 10th- We move through the flat country of Kansas at a good clip after a wee morning two hour wait for a derailment ahead of us. Now we are even more behind but according to my handy-dandy app I’ll make my train to New York. The night was as uncomfortable and long as I’d anticipated but at least I slept. At about 4am I moved from my torture seat to the observation car where I was able to almost stretch out over three seats and make the 6:30 AM dining car to meet new interesting strangers for political discourse and a pricey breakfast. I’m not sure how the meals will go for the rest of this day—I’m down to corn nuts and granola bars.
As I may have noted elsewhere, most people travel in couples or lay out the words, “my wife” or “my girl friend” or other such notable attachments. I use the word “we” often since I do live in community with the people at Riparia….no point in saying more. It is then that I join the comfortably attached even as a little whiny voice is crying out for Michael to rescue me from my singlehood. (Although this trip would drive him bonkers!)
Aug. 11th—The connection at Chicago was like another movie set… refugees running for freedom, being turned back, running for another entrance, realizing freedom existed only in the gap that had been left behind and running back to bolt up the stairs of the restless train right before it huffed out of the station.
I could not sleep until I went to observation/café car where people were talking loudly. I did a face plant in my pillow and drooled my way through a few hours. Then I severely twisted up my hair and bravely made my way into the dining car with unwashed teeth in my three day old clothes for breakfast.
I regret that I will be so exhausted and dirty when I see my nephew but I can’t tell you how GRATEFUL I will be to get off this train!!! I’ve loved the countryside as the train route has no signs, no box stores, no traffic. It’s got wonderful diversity—lots of Amish and internationals and the staff are all agreeable. If I wasn’t so tired….


2 thoughts on “Amtrak from New Mexico to New York

  1. Hi Chris. I was wondering what it was like for you on the train. I realized I needed to read your blog instead of just fb. Lin and I have long thought of taking a train trip but I’m not sure either one of us would do very well without sleeping on a real bed. However, you are “one tough cookie” and sounds like you’re uncomfortable but doing ok. I love reading your blog. You’re a good writer. Please take care of yourself and know that back home in Chico we’re thinking of you. Love, Karen 🙂


  2. Thanks Karen. I like being thought of as a tough cookie! You could do an Amtrak trip without night runs perhaps… go up the coast and get off at night. The sleeping cars are too expensive for me but if I have money at the end of the trip I’m going to treat myself to one. Love to you both, Chris


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