The Sunday Traveler ~ Are We There Yet?

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When the canyon and cliffs begin to show signs of more and more greenery I can sense that we’re nearing a new place. I’ve never taken this train trip before, so have no indication of what is coming next, or where any true demarcation lines are, if there are any, from one state to another. Isn’t this strange in today’s world of technology and GPS where we know exactly where we are at all times? The internet service was mostly non-existent as the train wound through canyons; and unlike highways, there are no signs to tell us it is x number of miles to x place. I realize I love this just being open to what comes next (what else is there?). Since I trust that the train will follow the tracks, and will take me where I’m supposed to be going, I can just sit back and truly enjoy the surprises as they come

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I think I’m going to like Colorado if this keeps up

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The land I come from, Northern California, has greenery like this for a brief period in spring, but is now a toasty brown from the summer heat and drought conditions. These incredible verdant scenes are something I can’t take my eyes off of.

Ah, civilization continues to exist after almost 31 hours of desert, canyons, and rivers. The train picks up speed, seemingly sensing my eagerness, and I finally have to ask “are we there yet?”

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The conductor smiles and points out the window….almost

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The Sunday Traveler will return next Sunday with a few scenes from a little place high up in the Colorado mountains where I had the pleasure of spending a few days with friends.

Until then

 

 

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro Corn Tassel

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Walking through a community garden a couple of weeks ago, the tassel on a corn plant caught my eye in it’s seemingly elegant drape. Not wanting to get into the predicament I was in, in a recent post, I’ve done my homework this week to be extra sure of my subject matter.  Did you know the corn tassel is the male flower of the corn plant? When the bulk of the plant growth is complete, tassels appear on top of the plant. The tassel’s job is to produce pollen that encourages the growth and ripening of the corn ear. Wind carries the pollen to the female flower, or the silk on the corn plant. This information was gleaned from gardeningknowhow.com; and given all of the corn fields around me, I’m glad I now know what’s going on out there.

The photo was taken with my iPhone 6Plus, Camera+, and edited with that application for exposure, contrast, and light adjustments.

You can click here to see the other entries in Sally’s challenge.

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The Sunday Traveler~Views And Thoughts Along The Way

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The Sunday Traveler was awake early on the morning of the second day (It’s a 31 hour trip from California to Denver) in spite of having slept fitfully after the 3:00 A.M. stroll along the train platform at the Salt Lake City stop. Anxious to not miss one moment of the beautiful countryside rolling by, I grabbed a coffee and bagel from the Cafe Car and sat in the Lounge to take in the view through the panoramic windows of that train car. We were heading out of Utah and nearing the Colorado border.

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We passed by towns that look long abandoned, followed by the first view of the Colorado River

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Beautiful, winding along greenery, and low hills that are a prelude of bigger things to come.

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The river widens and narrows, and the rails lead us through paths away from the river for short distances, as we head into canyons created eons ago

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It’s breathtaking vistas that don’t stop. I wanted to nap, but was afraid to close my eyes and miss any of this. And then we got to the town of Glenwood Springs, where rafting begins in earnest down this stretch of the river. The tradition, for whatever reason, is for rafters to “moon” the train as it passes along the river. I had read about this custom, but didn’t know if I should quite believe it. Believe it. I was never ready with the camera to capture said custom. There were rafters galore, it being the 4th of July weekend, and it was hysterical. Everyone on the train was laughing; the conductor gave us a total count at the end of the stretch of river where the rafters are (63 was the number of times he counted the train being mooned). But people on the river also waved at the train…and pretty near everyone on the train waved back. The thought passed my mind that this was a wonderful, happy human connection; we acknowledge each other, one human to another.

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And we move on down the river that changes again and again

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Next week I”ll take you on the final leg of the journey, getting into the Denver area.

Until then.

 

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Nature’s Queen

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Queen Anne’s Lace, in all of her majesty, found in a Colorado meadow high up in the mountains.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts…There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson

iPhone 6Plus used in Camera+. For other entries in the challenge, click here.

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The Sunday Traveler ~ The View Out The Train Window

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I’ve jumped ahead of the story just a little bit in that where this photo was taken is already into the Colorado area; but today’s story starts in California.

Traveling from Northern California to Denver, Colorado, the scene out of the Amtrak window changes  from the Carquinez Strait as we pulled out of the station in the little town of Martinez that began my journey, to little towns in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, fir and spruce trees going by as we began the slow climb up the mountain, passing through canyons; the rails following alongside lakes and rivers. Photos are of the Carquinez Strait, Truckee, The American River Canyon, Donner Lake.  The landscape shifting as we get into the outer Nevada area heading into Utah, dry arid land and long, desolate highways. Truckers are seen coming and going, with a few cars and campers joining the parade in the desert.

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A friend texted at one point and said where are you? I should have taken a selfie to show what was probably registering on my face…I had no clue, but I sent her this photo.

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A desert sunset turning into night, and towns drifting by with lights in windows making me wonder who lived here, and the stories that are held within these walls.

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We’ll wake up together next Sunday and pick up the trip as the train crosses over the Colorado border to see an impressive change in vistas to greenery, the beautiful Colorado River, and the rafters enjoying the river on this 4th of July weekend.

Until then.

And because last week’s traveler didn’t appear at all, I’ll post this one a little earlier than usual.

 

 

 

 

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Alone On the Road

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Re-inventing ourselves through the creativity of photography.

A photo taken from a train window a few weeks ago (I know, I know, the Sunday Traveler didn’t hit the blog yesterday, but will be coming this coming Sunday with more of the views).

Sally, creator of Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge, speaks more to this self-expression in her blog this week, please take a look by clicking here.

Photo above taken with my iPhone 6Plus, in Camera+, edited in camera, then processed in the iPhone app, Aquarella, and a further tweak using PicMonkey.

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black and White on The Road

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Converting color to black and white is still a labor of letting go for me. Losing color is sometimes difficult, but it is always a learning process of learning different gradients of blacks and grays and whites for an outcome that is acceptable, and sometimes even pleasing to my eye.

Photo taken at Estes Park in Colorado with my iPhone 6Plus, Camera+, and applying that filter for black and white.

Photo challenge by Sally D can be found here

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The Sunday Traveler~Riding The Rails on The California Zephyr

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The Sunday Traveler decided it was time to try on a bit of train travel to compare air to land travel.

The starting point for my trip was in the little town of Martinez, California, not far from my home in the east bay of San Francisco. Martinez is an old trading post established in 1849 and became the hub for gold and shipping industries. The “new” train station has a very small town feel to it harking back to days of old. A perfect way to start a relaxing trip; no lines of aggravated people waiting to go through security, little noise, pleasant customer service to check your suitcase if you wished (at no charge), or to buy a ticket if you didn’t already have one. In a word, efficient.

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Getting on board, and finding a seat in coach, I had my ticket checked by Amtrak staff, and then settled in to start enjoying the vistas rolling by.

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amtrak6Seats in coach are wide, and have an incredible amount of leg room, recline nicely and have a leg rest that can be elevated in addition to the foot rests on the back of the seat in front. Each row of seats is equipped with two electrical socket for charging up any electronics you’ve brought on board for use. The only negative I have to report is the lack of wi-fi, and going through the Nevada and Utah deserts, and canyons in Colorado, left us with no service at times. But then you should really be focusing on the beauty out the window.

Exploring the train was the next order of business, and I set off to find the Observation car with its panoramic dome and side windows…and comfy tables and club car type swivel chairs.

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At the station in Sacramento, docents from the California State Railroad Museum board the train to provide historical and sightseeing commentary between Sacramento and Reno; especially interesting as we head up into the Sierra and travel through the wonderful old gold mining towns of Auburn, Colfax, and by the American River Canyon,and along Donner Lake where the fateful Donner Party traveling west from Illinois were stranded during the winter of 1846-47. If you remember your history, there was cannibalism involved with only 48 of the original 87 surviving. If some did not know this history, the docent was giving us the info on the overhead in the observation car

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The train rumbled on, climbing the mountain continuously gaining altitude, and did not exactly make this like a bullet train. One has to be prepared for slow, no hurry, and some unexpected stops when there may be a train ahead with a problem holding your train back a ways. This happened a couple of times on my train in Green River, Utah, and I forget where else, but at least this gave us time to “de-train” and walk about the platform or nearby area until the All Aboard was called out.

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Sometimes there’s a lot of explaining to do

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One needs to approach train travel in the States with an air of nonchalance, and patience; you’ll enjoy it more that way. Do not try this if you are on any kind of schedule needing to arrive at your destination at a given hour.

Meal options are either in the Dining car, or food from the Cafe car (snacks, drinks, hot/cold sandwiches). I tried both. Both were very acceptable. The Dining car had some pretty good dishes on the menu including steak and a braised chicken to name just two items; seating is at tables of four, so if traveling solo you are destined to make new friends in the dining car. I met some great people and had wonderful conversations over meals there.

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Stops along the way at different stations were always interesting, including the 3 a.m. stop in Salt Lake City

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I couldn’t resist getting off to stretch my legs even if it was in the wee hours of the morning. I wanted to experience all of this, no matter the hour.

Morning brings the trip to the wash room (train WCs were extremely clean!) and brushing one’s teeth swaying back and forth. Kind of fun.

We moved on toward the Colorado state line and its beautiful canyons to traverse before hitting Denver, my destination.

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So far, I was favoring land travel over air travel. People just seem friendlier. More to come in the following weeks, with the view out the window next up.

Until then.

 

 

 

 

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ On The Street at Sundown

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Out on the street in San Miguel de Allende at sundown. A wonderful time to be out there enjoying the scene.

Photo taken with an iPhone 6Plus, Camera+, and edits in the Camera+ filters, and Snapseed.

Please visit Sally’s blog, Lens and Pens by Sally, for her mobile photography, and entries from others taking part in the challenge.

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The Sunday Traveler~ Afternoon Edition, The Nuns and a Templo in San Miguel de Allende

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The Templo de la Immaculada Concepcion in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. One of the many temples, or churches, that grace that incredible town. This is the first church the Sunday Traveler stumbled upon on a first walking trip in to town from my residence in one of the many colonias a little outside of the main downtown area. I was stunned at the colonial beauty and colors, and walked past it multiple times before actually going in to the courtyard behind these ochre walls.

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I ended up spending the better part of one afternoon just walking around in the small courtyard, or sitting on a bench taking in the feel of the history here, and watching the few people who were about that day just prior to Easter. The church was closed until later that evening. I knew I would probably not return again so just spent time there taking it all in; not a lot, but what drew me in and kept me there so long was the stone work, the textures, the colors. And I’ve heard often that a photographer needs to be patient. I found out why.

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I called out to the nuns to ask if they would let me in to the church, and I was told it was closed until evening.  I was already having this wonderful fantasy of being let in, just me, to see the church. Never hurts to ask. And I sat on the bench some more.

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The padre couldn’t believe I had dared ask. Or that I was taking his photo. Mea culpa.

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This was one of those rare afternoons, though in retrospect they were all rare, that I felt that I so belonged there, or maybe had been there before in another lifetime. It was hard walking out of that courtyard.

The Sunday Traveler has so many photos after spending one month in San Miguel. I plan to present them in future, with a break coming up for Sundays now until mid-July while I head out on another adventure, this time stateside. A jaunt from the San Francisco Bay Area to Denver via the Amtrak California Zephyr is about to happen. Stay tuned.

Hasta entonces.

As always, you can catch ongoing photos on my Instagram page at instragam.com/angeline.am

 

 

 

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