Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Worldcon Trip Day 4: Detour Across Wyoming

07:00: Alarm went off and I was happy to see that Lisa had managed to get some sleep. I knew that our train would be diverting to the northern "I-80/US-30" route rather than its normal route through Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs, Colorado, but I couldn't tell exactly where we were. I later back-calculated that we must have still been in eastern Utah at the time.

I got up, retrieved my things from the little in-room closet, and proceeded to take a shower. Guides for these cars warn people about the claustrophobic nature of the shower compartments, but my experience with our trailer in Oregon, including the need to conserve water, put me in good stead. Indeed, if the shower-toilet compartment in this room didn't have a toilet in it, it would have been about the same area as the shower in our trailer in Mehama.

I got a rude surprise when I tried the switch on the shower nozzle. (You're supposed to turn the water on and off "navy-style" using the handle switch when you soap up and such like.) I though the water feed was turned off because the instructions say to set the temperature, then push the start button. It turns out that the start button was stuck in the on position, and I got a face full of cold water. If Lisa hadn't already awoken while I was moving around earlier, she would have done so when she heard me yelping. I quickly shut off the handle switch and got things squared away. I managed to later get the start button to shut off when I was finished.

I mentioned that this was a shower-toilet compartment. There is a little retractable plastic shield that covers the toilet tissue roll. I forgot to close it when I started my shower, and ended up soaking the roll. Fortunately, Lisa was able to get us a fresh roll later.

Exiting the shower, I found the room had returned to its daytime configuration, thanks to Lisa having turned it while I was washing up. She warned me that the shower door leaks slightly and to watch out for where it got the carpet wet just outside the door. As I was getting dressed, we heard "second call for breakfast" from the diner.

07:40: Another breakfast in the diner. I stuck to my boring scrambled eggs and sausage, while Lisa had the omelet when she found that it wasn't completely pre-cooked and that you could get it made without red peppers. We shared a table with a woman from Salinas who grew up in Oroville and went to the same high school as my mother, Las Plumas HS. She knew where my home town of Challenge is, and I'm always happy to find people who know that area.

As we talked about our various travels and mentioned our trip to Japan in 2007, she said that she'd worked in Japan for a while as a tennis pro. I said, rather hesitantly, "Are you someone we should recognize?" because I had this vague idea that I recognized her from watching professional tennis. She said no, she'd not been on tour, but had been a tennis coach and teacher.

8:45: After breakfast, we went to the lounge car for a while and took in the stark scenery of Wyoming, with the sagebrush, rock outcroppings, and long, sweeping vistas. Paralleling a river, we saw deer sharing the water with grazing cattle, and I spotted rabbits popping over the side of the right of way to watch the train go by.

10:00: We had a crew change at Green River, Wyoming, but the conductor announced that they couldn't let us off the train for a smoking and leg-stretching stop. The Green River station is still used by UP, it appears, but since regular passenger service over the line ended with the loss of the Pioneer some years ago, the platform is a little forlorn looking. Shortly after leaving Green River, the new conductor announced that our next stop would be in Denver, scheduled for around 17:00 today, which, if so, means we might have to wait there for a couple of hours to catch back up to our schedule.

We returned to our compartment and I got out the computer and caught up on the trip report. I noted that the coffee pot in our car was empty, and our car attendant made a new pot for us.

10:45: Although there's no tea in the car, the attendant is able to fetch us some from the dining car, which is good for Lisa, who does not like coffee. I went to the attendant to ask him to bring us a couple of cups of hot water and tea bags, and found him reading Tad Williams' novel Shadowplay. I brightened up and explained that I knew Tad slightly, he having been Master of Ceremonies of the World Science Fiction I co-chaired in 2002. I'm afraid I couldn't help boasting that I'd been invited to his house once, but I was completely honest when I said how nice and friendly I've found Tad to be. Tad was a great MC for ConJosè, and I have in fact recommended him to other conventions as a guest.

11:00: I noticed that my mobile phone was already down to only 25% charge after only one day. (It was fully charged when we left Emeryville.) I surmised that whenever we got out of range of cell phone towers, the phone would go into search mode, which uses more power, and runs it down more quickly. I went downstairs to where my big bag is to dig out the charger that I did not think I'd need until we got to Chicago.

11:10: Yesterday morning in Emeryville, I noticed an odd bruise on my upper arm. I couldn't figure out where I got it. Last night, walking through the narrow corridors of the sleeping car, it came to me when we went over switches, causing the upper deck to shake back and forth and causing me to "pinball" back and forth off the walls. I realized that the bruises were from having had the same thing happen on the way down from Oregon.

12:00: Rawlins WY. We passed another fenced-off station as we crept through the yard. We're already at over 6000 feet, but we'll climb higher. I do wish I'd done more advance research on our route and picked up maps and timetables so that I would know more about where we where and what was coming up.

12:45: We're along the stretch of railroad that follows the loop of US-30 that swings to the north away from I-80 through Medicine Bow and Rock River, which means we should end up passing the Dinosaur House. The tape holding my pedometer to its belt clip worked its way loose. Lisa said, "I have some electrical tape in my luggage; I'll be right back," and after she popped downstairs to go through her luggage, returned with a roll of electrical tape. She then proceeded to patch my pedometer back together. Not that I'm getting many steps on this portion of the trip. There's only so much you can do even when you walk from on end of the train to the other. Time for lunch, if there are seats available, which there should be – although the sleepers on this train are full (two full sleepers and some berths in the crew dorm), the coaches are not completely full, and demand in the diner has been relatively light.

14:20: We passed through Rawlings and Laramie while having lunch, passing though Laramie so fast that we missed the former passenger station and the adjacent park where we had lunch on our drive to Denver last year. Then it was on to the assault of Sherman Hill, one of American railroading's "sacred places." I was surprised at how gentle the climb up and over the summit seemed compared to the climb up to Donner in the Sierras.

After lunch, we walked the length of the train: about 400 or so steps on my pedometer, which is nothing to speak of. I wonder how much freedom of action we'll have at Denver? If we really are there for something like three hours, we should be able to go walk around downtown, with which we're familiar on account of last year's Worldcon.

14:35: Just like our driving route to Worldcon last year, the train turns south near Cheyenne and head down to Denver. Even though it's a diversion out of the train's usual route, the triple-track "speedway" across Wyoming is so much faster than the former Denver & Rio Grande route across Colorado that we're supposed to get to Denver way early. At a place called Speer, we stopped to take on a Union Pacific "pilot" for the section from Cheyenne to Denver.

We've been seeing antelope all day today, but never got photos of them, thanks to bad timing. They seemed to show up every time Lisa put the camera away.

14:50: With a new crew aboard, we whistled off from Speer Junction and headed for Denver. I dozed off -- Lisa saw me fading and suggested I take a map. I roused briefly when the conductor called the passengers' attention to a herd of buffalo off to the side of the train, then went back to sleep, feeling a little guilty because I knew I was sleeping through relatively "rare mileage" since it's not a regular passenger route anymore.
Tags: lisa, train, travel, work, worldcon

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