Friday, September 17, 2021

CALIFORNIA: Day 1 (Seattle to Raymond)

 8:00 AM, Bremerton, WA. A cold breeze woke me up from half-sleep. I had been sitting next to the ferry dock at a little park with whale-spout fountains (turned off due to COVID). I shivered, checking and double checking the schedule, as I awaited the grand adventure.

The ferry to Bremerton did not feel like a true beginning. I had taken that ferry many times with my family, and I had always returned home the same day. The next leg was different. A bus serviced by small vans whose schedule did not appear on Google Maps, the Route 3 would penetrate the Olympic Peninsula by way of rural Mason County. Once I boarded that bus, there would be no turning back.

Reading an dry passage from The Prince about appeasing local nobles, my eyes wandered to the little clock at the top of my Kindle. I decided it was time to go. I collected my heavy backpack, took one last look around the familiar Bremerton pier, and climbed the stairs to the terminal.

Thankfully the Mason Transit bus had already arrived. A small van, it waited apart from all of the larger coaches serving Bremerton and the surrounding areas. Eventually the doors hissed open; I was the only passenger. Clattering my exact change into the farebox, I told the driver I wanted to connect to the bus to Shelton. It would be a tight connection and the agency told me that he could radio ahead to make sure I made the next bus. He smiled confidently and said that he usually arrived five minutes early. Sit anywhere you like.

Looking around the walls of the van, I was full of memories. The last time I had taken a bus like this was in elementary school. Laminated notices in Comic Sans covered the bulkhead, reminding passengers that there was no smoking and that the Route 8 was coming back with limited service. Rather than ads for insurance or earbuds, they advertised a course offered by the county to acquaint local people with the transit system. It seemed as if COVID had not changed that much, after all.

We left on time and headed for the highway, but before we left Bremerton we made an unexpected stop. Our second passenger had flagged down the bus. She was an old white woman with a heavily-laden walker. Cars racing by at 50 mph, the driver gingerly opened his door, walked around to the curb, and unpacked the electric lift. Once safely onboard, the woman said hello and immediately launched into a breathless story. Her son was moving to Seattle to take care of her even though she insisted she did not need his help. On top of that, he had brought an unsavory friend who was mooching off his income. Or something like that. "I'm a Southerner," she said with a laugh, "I don't forgive too easy!"

The driver smiled and nodded at the appropriate times but didn't say a word. By now we had left the liberal town center and entered Real America. We took the Old Highway, parallel to Route 3 and used only by locals. A house passed by with a gigantic banner:

PUBLIC ENEMY #1: DEMOCRATS

- OPEN BORDERS
- SANCTUARY CITIES
- CRITICAL RACE THEORY
- ...

(the list went on for quite some time). More signs: TRUMP WON, TAKE AMERICA BACK. The last time I had visited Mason County was in 2013, back when the county was still for Obama. Politically the county was a different world. On the bus, however, it felt just the same as before.

More flag stops. The bus lurched to a halt, admitting a disheveled young white woman wearing a mildly trashy T-shirt. She sat down and remained quiet while the old Southerner continued to talk. Despite the increasingly lunatic Trump flags outside, the conversation on the bus was all about people's families -- never politics. Who got what job, what the new bus schedule would bring, and the best brands of microwave burrito were the topics of interest.

Five minutes early, as promised, we unloaded at Bill Hunter Park and waited for our connecting rides. The bus from Bremerton turned into the 5, a local circulator, and sped away. I guess it's called a Park because it has two picnic tables beside the bus shelter. At one table sat a young boy, unsupervised, who stared at the passengers passing through. At the other table sat the Southerner who did not forgive.

Another van appeared and the destination sign flashed on: 1 SHELTON. A well-groomed old white man waved us on. "Byron!" the Southerner said, and he greeted her by name. Byron spoke slowly, calmly, but crisply. He responded to the Southerner's tales with questions of his own, and they laughed together. 

The road snaked by a narrow lake colored grey and black by the trees and sky. By now clouds had started to gather. The forecast had called for rain from lunchtime on, and I was slated for a three-hour wait in Aberdeen. I hoped the rain would hold off until the evening.

Shelton was a desolate stretch of churches, unused office buildings, and empty parking lots. It was absolutely quiet except for the occasional passing car. There was a dim mistiness that indicated a coming rain. We parted ways with the Southerner at a Baptist church, and I departed Byron's bus at the bus terminal. Empty coaches lined the blocks around the station. Given the state of the town, I was surprised at the relative liveliness of the Transit Community Center. Dozens of passengers waited under the awning, a family played ping pong in a public room, and clean bathrooms were open to the public.

For about half an hour I leaned against the railing, waiting for the Route 6 to appear. Across the street, a young woman loitered at the edge of a Safeway parking lot. A "little free library" was filled with romance novels. Two tattooed men appeared from an alley, offered her a cigarette, and they all walked away.

Shelton Little Free Library

It hadn't begun to rain but it was getting close. The bus arrived on time, and I boarded along with about a dozen others. This one was not a van. Thanking each of us as we paid our fare, the driver changed his tune when one man claimed that he thought the fare was only 25 cents. "We don't do courtesy rides," the driver said firmly, and slammed the door.

(Mason Transit is free within the county but charges a small fee to travel to Bremerton and Olympia. Unlike in Seattle, where drivers almost never refuse service to a passenger who refuses to pay, rural bus drivers are extremely strict about money. A rural driver can't kick someone off in the middle of nowhere, so it is important to filter out the drunks and the druggies before they board. A small fare allows them to avoid these 'undesirables.' More on this on Day 4...)

The rain pounded down. Hurtling down 101 towards Olympia, the bus kicked up a massive spray. I fell asleep to the sound of the roaring engine and awoke only once we had entered the capital.

Olympia was nothing like the last time I had visited. Nearly every storefront and office building was empty. Restaurants had closed, leaving only the faded imprint of their names on their locked, unused doors. COVID had obliterated the place, and even though the vaccine was fixing the virus situation, it felt like the old city would never come back.

As a consolation prize, however, the rain decided to stop the moment I got off the bus. The Bread Peddler was closed (though it planned to reopen in the "coming weeks") so I headed north to an Italian restaurant. The food was okay but not great, and it came in such a massive portion that I had to leave two thirds of the dish to be thrown away. I sat next to some bureaucrats from the Department of Natural Resources who chatted happily about office politics. Massive quantities of rain gushed down as I ate, but once again, it stopped the moment I left the restaurant.

I still had over an hour to kill. The waterfront was empty, as usual, but it had some great views of the Capitol. The old M/V Evergreen State, Washington State's first government-funded ferry, sat there retired and unused. There was a boardwalk winding by a long line of closed shops.



By this point the weather and the store closures had worn me down. I was beginning to convince myself that the entire trip would be on the boundary of rain and that every town would be a ghost town. And beyond Olympia, it would be very difficult for my family to pick me up. With this dreary mood I walked back to the transit center and waited for the bus to Aberdeen.

The 40 arrived on time. Fishing out two dollar bills from my exact change envelope, I claimed the best seat -- the front of the raised section in the back -- and began to fall asleep. The seats were plain grey and somehow overstuffed. Two other passengers got on in Olympia: one tattooed man and one woman in medical gear. 

Predictably, the rain started again as we rushed down Route 8 toward Grays Harbor. The bus kept to the freeway for a while, but as before, it deviated to the Old Highway at the earliest opportunity. One hour and forty minutes of semi-local travel, moving at fifty miles per hour but screeching to a halt at one or two bus stops placed haphazardly on the side of the road.

Nuclear power plant seen on the 40 to Aberdeen

I stepped off at Aberdeen station with three hours to wait and without much of a plan. There was an intriguing Kurt Cobain memorial about a twenty minute walk from the station, so I decided to check it out. What I saw was one of the most memorable places of the entire journey.

Block after block of decrepit houses with grass gone to seed. Most were abandoned but some were occupied; many hung TRUMP 2024 flags in their dirty windows. Each had a short chain-link fence, a NO TRESSPASSING sign, and a growling guard dog which bounded toward the sidewalk as I passed by. I met only one person on my way to the memorial. A sunburned man wearing sunglasses -- the classic caricature of a hillbilly Trumpster. When he saw me I was a little apprehensive, but he took off his glasses and smiled. "Hi, I'm Brady," he said. I introduced myself; he seemed happy to see a new face in the neighborhood, and perhaps assumed that I would be moving in. "See you around," he said, somewhat optimistically. I said goodbye and continued toward the Wishkah river.

A small gravel path curved off the road just before the bridge. And there was the Kurt Cobain memorial.





There were signs and sculptures, but the real Cobain memorial lived in the surroundings: the steel-grey sky, the gritty neighborhood, the bridge, the river, and the silence. Under the bridge, a simple sign said "FROM THE MUDDY BANKS OF THE WISHKAH." It was a beautiful but haunting experience. 

I sat there for about an hour reading Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel. It's a story about two men who achieve immense wealth and success through their skills and hard work. One was born a Boston Brahmin, the other grew up in a Siberian gulag, but both achieve fabulous success. Sitting in Aberdeen, the story felt like a lie -- but an entertaining lie, nonetheless.

Grays Harbor county is a land of Trump's "forgotten men and women." It has been a major timber producer for hundreds of years. After voting for Democrats in every presidential election since Herbert Hoover, it swung hard for Donald Trump in 2016 and evicted all of its Democratic state representatives. From the state of Aberdeen, I understood why the residents would be enraged over the collapse of local industry and eager to blame it on liberals. I doubt that any amount of UBI or job training would wipe away the despair humiliation that drenched the once-proud town.

Clouds blocked the sun and the air cooled to the 50s. More rain was ahead. I packed my bag and said goodbye to this quiet, melancholy place. More fences, guard dogs, and warning signs lined my path back to the station.

Aberdeen's bus terminal is simple but comfortable. Lines of benches are installed under a broad green awning. There is a vending machine (I got a Snickers bar) and a clean bathroom. I couldn't find the flag for the Pacific Transit bus to Raymond, but I knew roughly where it would pull into the station, so I settled down for another hour of reading. Under the awning I was safe from the rain but not from the cold wind.

At last my bus arrived. Another van, larger than the Mason County buses but smaller than the bus from Olympia. This route ran only twice a day, so I was surprised to see about seven passengers file off. One was an obviously drunk homeless man who the driver knew by name. He shuffled off and asked if he could get back on. The driver demanded a fifty-cent fare which he didn't have, so the man stumbled away dejectedly.

My fellow passengers were a drunk old man, a younger man, and a woman. They seemed to be traveling together, but I couldn't tell if they were family. They spent much of the trip arguing over where to get off the bus -- Raymond or South Bend. As they spoke, the bus whizzed down a heavily forested section of Route 101. The driver raced around tight curves, aggressively passing any cars driven by slowpoke tourists. The very back of the bus, where I sat, protruded from the rear wheels and swung from side to side with every turn.

(It's always entertaining to travel the small highways by public transit. On difficult roads where tourists might slow down for caution, experienced bus drivers can curve through at rollercoaster speeds. Most of them have done it hundreds of times.)

Before reaching the town center, the bus pulled away and completed a five-block loop to serve a small neighborhood north of the Willapa river. No one got on or off. These "ghost stops," though unproductive for the transit agency, are a gold mine for the casual traveler because they trace the patterns of local life. The stop north of the Willapa River was across from a church and a convenience store. It was the first of many that I would encounter over the summer.

Raymond sat on a flat river delta surrounded by steep forested hills. A few blocks separated the bus stop from the Pitchwood Inn. The town was empty, but it didn't feel as depressing as Olympia or Aberdeen. There was a movie theater and a diner, and the sidewalks were well-maintained.

Opening the door to the Pitchwood Inn I saw something I hadn't witnessed for many months: a small room, wood-paneled and lined with neon signs, packed with laughing, maskless people. The bar was active and no one gave a second thought to "distancing." Back in Seattle, despite the vaccine, people were still sanctimoniously wearing masks outdoors and chiding each other to stand six feet apart. Here in Raymond, the pandemic was over.

This was my first time staying at a hotel by myself. I was a little nervous about checking in, but the bartender handed me my room key without checking my ID or my credit card. The room was tiny but extremely comfortable.


After spending a few minutes checking out my home for the next night, I returned to the alehouse and ordered a BLT. I would soon find out that the Pitchwood, along with every other restaurant in the country was understaffed. I didn't care. After a year of isolation, I was delighted to stew for an hour in the cheerful atmosphere of the packed bar. The sandwich finally came with an apology and a discount.

9 PM in Raymond

My day ended with a short walk around the town. Despite the clouds I could see the colors of the sunset. I had an early morning the next day, but I was eager to leave industrial Washington behind and enter the glorious Oregon coast.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Travel is like a wheel of cheese...

After a year of isolation and lockdown, I was ready for the vacation of a lifetime. I would travel the coasts of America, and I would do it by county bus. 

Why go by local transit? To understand, consider the two ways to open a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. One might take the direct approach by sawing the wheel in half and carving out the interior. To the uninitiated, this strategy might seem perfectly reasonable: after all, it's just cheese. But this is absolutely wrong. Just watch this Italian chef as he handles a wheel. With loving care, he spins the cylinder, traces a shallow seam around the center, and plunges two long knives diagonally into the sides. And then he waits. ("Now is the time to smoke a cigarette," he says.) Minutes later, he sweeps the knives out and voila! the center divides into two universes of crags and canyons of cheese and glistening salt. The true character of the Parmigianino is revealed: not a geometric solid, but a world of ungovernable texture. "Allow the cheese to explain himself to you," the man says. "There is no 'another way.'" 

To travel by car is to slice straight through the land, overlooking texture for the sake of speed and control. Each stop is deliberate and somewhat furtive -- an avoidable delay which can be terminated at will. The traveler moves in a small extension of his own home, never fully immersed in the world running by. 

To travel by local transit is to allow the country to "explain himself to you." It is to traverse a chain of routes which stop at hospitals, grocery stores, prisons, and beaches, following the contours of local life. Waits between buses, as inescapable as the law of gravity, thrust you into the each small town along the way. You travel with only a backpack and a bag of exact change. You must have faith in accurate schedules and good drivers to sweep you slowly along your path.

Local transit is slow and challenging. But if you want to really see America, there is no another way!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Trip to India: Travelling to Trivandrum

I woke up very early, at about 5:00 AM, in order to catch our 7:15 flight to Trivandrum. I quickly checked us all in, and we left. At the airport I had a Vada breakfast at a fast food place outside, before meeting up with my cousins again to check in. Good thing I had checked us in online, because we could almost entirely skip the line by going through the one marked "Online Check-in"! Unlike the US, the Indian airlines allow you to check bags for free as a standard feature; we checked our stuff in, and got going.
    The security line was pretty quick, and strangely enough, there was a separate line for men and women. Everyone needed to be passed over by a handheld metal detector (or whatever it was) as well as walking through the standard metal detector. Once you were cleared, your bag was stamped. It seems like Indian officials like to stamp things a lot.
The flight was very short, on a new-ish Airbus A320. It was so different being on a small aircraft, with little legroom and no inflight entertainment, knowing that I would get off in less than an hour! I guess I had gotten used to the Lufthansa long-haul Boeing 747 after only two flights! We arrived with little delay, and I stepped out into Trivandrum. I was hit by a wave of heat and humidity (but no smell of feces). I guess that is what is to be expected in a city so close to the equator. It wasn't that terrible, but it took a couple hours to get used to.
We were met with another driver in the arrivals area of the small airport, who the adults in our group again greeted very warmly while the rest of us awkwardly waited to greet him. He took us to the hotel, where they checked the underside of the car for bombs before letting us in. In front of the entrance there was a metal detector, so I was a bit confused as to why they were letting people just walk through it and set it off willy nilly.
Inside, the front desk was taking an unnecessarily long time to check our passports and OCIs, so we sat on a comfortable couch in the air conditioned lobby.

Later in the day, we met Doctorauntie at her house. We hung out in her house for a while before having dinner.
Me and my cousins talk
My uncle (who I call Ungle for some reason) and Appachan
Doctorauntie shows my father (who I call Appa) a magazine in her study
Finally, we had dinner: chicken, fish, rice, and cabbage. It was all right, though I would have preferred Basmati rice and another type of fish. The chicken and cabbage, however, were both very good. Again, I started getting terribly sleepy at around 7:00, so I was relieved when the driver took us back to the hotel. After a quick shower and tooth-brushing (using bottled water supplied for free by the hotel), I quickly fell asleep.

Trip to India: First Impressions







I woke up in the apartment of my grandfather (I call him Appachan) feeling quite tired, but clean, at least. After getting ready and relaxing a bit, I was immediately introduced to one of my relatives, Judgiaunty. Apparently she had been staying there overnight, so I went over to the other bedroom to meet her. It was a bit awkward, because her American English was not very good, so she found it a bit difficult to understand me, but we got some talking done. 

A little while later, I got my first true taste of India. Before lunch, we went to Thom's Cafe, an Indian equivalent of a corner store in the US, to get some random thing. I was stunned at how disorganized the roads were. Cars going every which way, not staying in their lanes, avoiding each other by mere inches. People use their horns like bicycle bells to alert others as to where they are going, rather than using the lanes for that purpose. I saw a couple cows lying down on the roadside, eating out of piles of trash, and some dogs passed out on their sides on the sidewalk. 
Thom's had an extremely strong, acrid smell (maybe bug spray, now that I think about it) which was a bit overwhelming. 

The checkout line was very different. First, a person with a handheld device would tally your purchases onto a receipt. Then you would bring the receipt to the payment desk. Finally, on the way out, a security guard would stamp your receipt to show that you have not stolen anything.
For lunch, I met up with my first cousins Aadi and Anoushka, along with a cadre of relatives I had never met (soon to become a common pattern in my stay in India). The food was very manageable; not nearly as difficult of a transition as I was told it would be. Later in the day, I was dragged to a photo frame store and a photo printing store, because we wanted to give a framed photo of our family to Doctorauntie (another relative of mine) as a present. By about 6:00 PM I was dead on my feet, and I went to sleep almost instantly after I got home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My trip to India: The Flight

I am two days into my two-week-long trip to India (obviously not by public transit, but I decided to use this blog for this trip just because).

The Journey

It all began in SeaTac airport, where we arrived at about 11:50 AM. I was a bit worried that we would need to pay $100 for our bags to India, as the Lufthansa site said that only one 32kg bag was allowed per person, but apparently there are many exceptions to this rule. We checked our bags just fine, and got through security after a long line. While eating lunch at Wendy's, I got my first glimpse of our ride to Frankfurt.
I see the Lufthansa 747-400 taxiing to gate S15
After a short ride on the SeaTac airport people mover train, we were at the S gates, the terminal where all of the international flights originate in Seattle. I steeled myself for the worst: my recent experience with international plane travel had been not good. I remembered the 7 hour flight to Iceland, where I got practically no sleep and felt very cramped. Knowing that the flight to Frankfurt would be more than 8 hours long, followed by another 8 hour flight to Bengaluru, I was not expecting anything more than living hell. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised!
Okay, I was lazy and forgot to take a picture of our plane. But this is generally what it looked like!
I had never been on a widebody plane since I was two years old, so the 747-400 was a great experience for me. So much space! Interestingly, the ceilings and overhead bins were very squarely shaped: no curving panels like on most planes. Some other people were having a lot of trouble closing the bins and squishing their bags in place, but we managed to snag a spot in the bins very quickly, without much trouble. I settled in, and was amazed to find out that I could stretch my legs all the way out, even with a backpack stowed below the seat in front of me! IN ECONOMY CLASS!
I fake smile for the camera before getting back to the In Flight Entertainment system

    The IFE system was excellent: the screen was extremely responsive (not the screens displayed in the picture), almost like an iPad. Nothing like the terrible, unresponsive, overheating screens on certain other airlines (cough cough, Icelandair). Everything worked very smoothly. Oh, and every passenger was handed headphones for free. There were a couple screens on the bulkhead in front of me, presumably left over from before the addition of screens at every seat, which displayed the flight info (obviously you could also see it on the screen in front of you). I settled in to watch Titanic, a movie I would highly recommend.
    In what felt like no time at all, the flight attendants came by with dinner. Compared to any other flight I had been on, it was like a gourmet meal. Chicken or pasta? they asked. I went with the pasta. It came on a tray with the food all there, no unwrapping of bags needed on the most part. There was a little bowl of salad, a hunk of bread, a small triangle of brownie with a strawberry, and a microwave bowl of pasta. The pasta was good tasting, though very unhealthy. It was basically a bunch of pasta circles embedded in a sea of cheese, with a small amount of tomato sauce added. Delicious! The salad was good too; crunchy and fairly good tasting. I liked the roll, though it was a bit tough and cold. The brownie was the best part; you can definitely go wrong with a brownie, but the one they served was moist, sweet, and (relatively) delicious. 
    After finishing Titanic, I tried to sleep for a while, with some success. After about two hours of a half-sleep, I watched Goldeneye. The two movies, plus dinner and the short nap, easily filled the eight-hour flight. I left the plane feeling pretty good, with the sense that a night had passed. After three hours of sleeping on benches at Frankfurt, our 747-8 to Bangalore arrived.

Old-livery 747-8 to Bangalore
Boarding was pretty cool; the passengers used their tickets like Oyster cards (but barcode scanned, of course) to pass through turnstiles which admitted them onto the jetway. On this flight I got quite a bit of good sleep, before having a standard Indian veg dinner. The screens on this flight were much more run-of-the-mill: low resolution and less responsive, but still better than the Icelandair system! My legs began to cramp at the end, and I realized that I had not stood up for the entire eight hour flight. 
When we arrived in Bangalore, it was two in the morning. No other planes were in sight taking off or touching down, only our behemoth 747-8 was on the tarmac. We pulled up to the gate, and I braced myself for a strong assault of the smell of crap and pollution... it wasn't there. We walked up the very standard jetway to a highly modern and clean airport. The bathrooms were spic and span, and the building was not outdated at all. The only downside was that it was pretty humid in the terminal! After a relatively short line to check our OCI cards and passports, we were in the baggage claim and soon outside. Surprisingly, it was much less humid outside than in. Again, very little smell of pollution or feces, as I was told there would be. One of the most noticeable differences was the fact that all of the cars had stickers on their fuel panels that says what fuel it takes.
Our driver pulled up, and we began driving down the highway. The highway was well-paved and orderly, especially at that time of day. Everyone was going way over the speed limit, and this is probably the reason why there were speed bumps right on the highway!
Once we pulled off the highway, the differences began. Large packs of wild dogs were roaming the streets, eating the trash piled on the roadside. The road was so cracked and bumpy that the driver had to slow to a stop almost ten times along the way. I was glad when we pulled into the gated apartment parking lot. I was ready to sleep. After riding a musical elevator three floors up, I said hi to Appachan and went to the shower. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold, because the water heater hadn't been turned on! I took a shower anyway, barely getting by. The water was metallic smelling, and the bathroom was kind of sketchy, so I quickly dried off and brushed my teeth before, exhausted after the 20 hours of flying, quickly falling asleep. 
Don't get the impression that I have been having a terrible time; in fact, I have been having quite a good time. It was just that the first night was kind of difficult and hectic. More to come!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 12: THE FINAL LEG! Oxnard to San Diego!

I woke up very early in the morning, excited for the day but a bit sad that the trip was ending! We called our last taxi of the trip, and rode to the train station. The Oxnard AMTRAK station had a convenient building to wait in, and we bought our tickets at a machine outside on the platform. We were about to catch the Metrolink commuter rail to Los Angeles Union Station, so we had to wait on the platform to get on the train while it made a brief stop. A short while later, the train arrived.
Oxnard platform

The brand new train rushes in to the station


New interior of the Metrolink train

It was a pretty long ride on the Ventura County Line Metrolink, so I was asleep for most of the way. Eventually, the train opened its doors at the LA Union Station platform. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit Los Angeles, so we took the stairs from the island platform to the underground station area. We had a quick croissant breakfast at the Starbucks, then took the stairs back up to the platform labeled by an LED dot display showing "Orange County 800 Oceanside". This train was very important. If we missed it, we would have to wait 6 hours and only get to San Diego in the evening. 800 was one of the few trains that went all the way from LA to Oceanside.
Train 800 at the Union Station

People exiting a train

Interior of an older Metrolink car
Very similar to the Sounder commuter rail, but with different pattern.

View from the train

After a relaxing 2 hour ride, train 800 pulled into Oceanside station. This was where we would transfer to the very last train of our trip: the COASTER commuter rail. But we had about an hour to wait, so we headed down to the beach. Some people were taking a surfing lesson on the cloudy day (no way would I do that!), and I used my trusty NOOK for the last time of the trip. 
Back at the station, we bought our tickets at the TVM, and (with some delays from the credit card) we got our tickets: the last of the trip. Very many people were about to board this train, so we quickly walked to the right platform. It was pretty much the standard west coast commuter rail train, with the bright blue COASTER livery.

It was another scenic ride, like countless buses and trains before in the trip. But this was the last. No more getting up early in the mornings to catch a bus to some far off place, no more Pacific Ocean scenery as a standard part of the day, no more new regions to explore but San Diego.
Getting off the train, I was greeted by a bright red San Diego Trolley car, one of the really old ones.
We walked to our very last hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Old Town. Dropping off our backpacks, we immediately came back to the station. We still had one last thing to do.
The Trolley Blue Line took us all the way to our destination all along: the Mexican border! On the train, we met a man who used to be in the Marines, and is now the owner of a business which sells home security systems.
Once we got off the trolley, we were immediately greeted by a McDonalds, and many signs indicating the walking path across the border.



A short walk, then we were told that we couldn't go any further without going into Mexico. Here we were, at the Mexican border. The end of the trip!
(Note: More pix coming soon)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Porting Over Schedules

Recently, I have been porting over my schedules to epictransitjourneys.com. Check there for everything but the Vancouver to San Diego schedule.