Monday, July 30, 2012

Riding the Rail

UPDATE: Find all my pictures in my Amtrak to San Francisco album.

I learned this last week Riding the Rail has two meanings, and I completed both of them. The one I would like to focus on though is my train ride from Omaha, NE to  Emeryville, CA.

July 27th 2012
It is now 11:30pm and my adventure begins and ironically I am exhausted already. All the packing playing celebrating, laughing, crying, and reflecting has exhausted me. I hope sleep does not evade me on the train.

July 28th 2012
Yesterday I started a journey, one that I’m not sure where it will take me, but the one thing I do know is that I will learn a lot, meet new people, and hopefully understand where I am supposed to fit in the big world.
While I am writing this entry I am on the Zepher Amtrak headed to Emeryville, CA.

 This is my first time on a train and the furthest I have gone completely by myself. 

WOW the mountains are truly a spectacular site to see. Coming from Iowa it is truly a site to see how much man has accomplished to live in so many different places. I think school can only teach you so much about what engineers do, and then the marvels of the world can say the rest.

I was listening to a guide on the train and they were talking about how much work has gone into building the tracks and how they truly have shaped America. I have already known this, but to see it first hand, out of a text book is a humbling experience. The time, effort, money, and lives lost to accomplish a task we think so little of today. 

They talked about a tunnel that was 6.1 miles long and before the tunnel and the train were built it took 10 days to get over the summit of the mountain and now it is only 10 minutes! Can you imagine? 

Atmospheric pressure. Awesome. Unfortunately, the food my sister Erin packed for me was not quite enough to hold me over, but it helped majorly with cost because prices on the train are astronomical! I went to the dinning car to eat for dinner and the cheapest thing on the menu was $15! I had the chicken which was actually really tasty but it was not worth $15.75. It got me through the first day though. :)

The windmills remind me of home...

July 29th 2012
I cannot believe that I only got 4 hours of sleep last night. Late stop last night, early stop this morning and the time difference is starting to get to me. Oh and sleeping in a chair 2 nights in a row isn't a super awesome experience. 

I woke up to a new area, no longer the Colorado feel, but Nevada, dry dead Nevada. This was by far the most boring part of the trip. The one thing I did notice though was irrigating. In the midwest you hear of it, but you never really see an extreme case.

It really made me appreciate the midwest when I saw this. After sleeping through Nebraska, waking up to Denver, seeing Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, I was finally in the Bay Area.

A train over the water! Train on the bridge! Awesome! I was actually extremely excited about this. To see old technology next to new, coexisting and doing their each unique purpose. Did I mention that the bridges in the Bay area are amazing? I will have to learn about the structures and how they continue to stand with the two fault lines in the area- truly an engineering marvel to me.

There is so much traffic here! we just had 10 lanes converge to 4! The bay bridge that connects Oakland to San Francisco is a double decker bridge which means traffic goes west on the top level and east on the bottom. Apparently this didn't hold up well with the 1989 earthquake and so now they are building another bridge parallel to the first on on the east side.. Extremely interesting.

July 30th 2012
I am off the train now, had dinner with Lisa Engler last night, walked home to see more of San Fran, and had a great night sleep. Things have slowed down now and I can breath. I have today completely free and start orientation tomorrow for the school I will be volunteering at. Then next week I head down to Los Angeles for Vincentian Service Corp orientation. Hopefully once all that is done I will be able to tell you all a little more detail about what I will be doing here!

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