Part 3 of The ESB “In Training”: A Cross-Country Journal with Video

This picks up where ESB “In Training”: Part 2 left off…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Del Rio, TX
Sanderson, TX
Alpine, TX
El Paso, TX
Deming, NM
Lordsburg, NM
Benson, AZ
Tucson, AZ

Definitely a little slower on the uptick this morning. One or two drinks too many. This will be tough. The sunrise was now coming right into my window through the curtains so getting up was unavoidable. I managed to make it to the breakfast car at 8:55am and met some of the new passengers. One of the ladies had a very interesting accent. Turned out she was American, had lived in Canada, but had been living in London for the past 20 years. Her 12-year old daughter had a full English accent and this was only her second time visiting her mother’s homeland. They had been training from the East coast and were heading to LA to spend time with friends – Universal Studios, Hollywood, etc.

We pulled into our first stop just as I finished breakfast… Del Rio, TX:

They have a service on these trains called Trails & Rails and it is a group of volunteers that will join a journey at a stop and stay with us for a few stops – about 90-120 minutes. They are certified rangers and give overviews and presentations on the local geography, animals, history, etc. I decided to listen to the one this morning as we traversed the very south of Texas along the Mexican border (so far south in fact, that I received unsolicited texts on my phones letting me know that I could get unlimited texting in Mexico for $8.99).

This is where we saw one of the visual highlights of the journey so far – albeit rather brief – The Pecos Canyon. Wow…

Just got done with lunch meeting a lovely older couple from Austin that are doing the loop on the train (also for the first time). Austin to Los Angeles to Seattle to Denver to Chicago to Austin. Stopping in Seattle for a while to visit with relatives. Great people. Chicken curry (rather good) and ice tea… something I’ve had buckets of since being on the train.

Back in my roomette again. This train is considerably busier than the last one – every meal needs to have a reservation. The observation deck is louder too – more kids – so it’s easier for me to slip away to the privacy of my sleeper car and watch the Southern Texas mountains and desert pass me by. The Texas Eagle – running from Chicago to San Antonio – is a daily service. The Sunset Limited runs only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – I think this is why it’s a lot busier.

This has been the only leg of the journey where we’ve had very little cellphone connection so I’m truly cut off with the world now. Quite pleasant and unnerving at the same time.

I’m going to jump back into the business plan and get a nap in before we roll through El Paso, say goodbye to Texas, skip through New Mexico and arrive in Tucson for a 30-45 minute break later tonight.

El Paso was pretty unreal. The border fence was literally a few feet from the window at times while we left the station. New Mexico didn’t last long and we crossed into Arizona after dark. The desert was experiencing one of it’s more impressive monsoon spells tonight and I got to witness it from my room with no lights on… just the lightning firing down near the train as we continued on.

I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1996. Allie and I had met there back in September of 1993. I had a lot of very fond memories and lot of tough ones too so I knew it was going to be surreal to roll up in the train with a 45 minute break to possibly run over to Hotel Congress to grab a quick pint. Unfortunately, we were behind schedule so I was only able to get a little bit of filming done and snap a couple of pictures before moving on…

I fell asleep as soon as we left Tucson city limits.

To be continued…

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