Saturday, 27 October 2012

Five Hours in LA

Or, "Travelling for 15 Hours and Still Being in California".  

I left Yosemite early-doors to make sure that the rest of my day's travel got off to a good start - and glad I did as it was a bit of a marathon!  I drove for four hours across California - which was just a beautiful as the way into Yosemite although I took a slightly different route.  The only radio station I could get a reliable signal for played solely country music which was an interesting accompaniment.  Most interesting was the constant political advertising (both pro and anti) for Adam Gray - not a politician who had previously crossed my radar and running for a relatively junior position he certainly has provoked some serious emotions - the attack ads were really vicious and the responses to them no less trenchant!

Made it to San Jose safely enough (via a small detour to try to find a petrol station before giving back the hire car) and was very early for my flight to LA.  But to be honest I was grateful of the chance to just sit down and chill-out: I'd been either walking or driving for the last three days so it was nice to just do nothing.  

Flight was fine, if anything the internal flights have very quickly lost any glamour they might have had and are just a bit tedious now and I successfully negotiated LAX's huge number of terminals (and satellite terminals) to find the departure location for the FlyAway bus to the city's Union Train Station.   This was very cheap ($7) and very efficient - negotiated through rush-hour downtown traffic in about 40 mins.

So I ended up very early in the station ahead of my second Amtrak trip - all the way to Houston.  Had resigned myself to a terrible station dinner and sitting in some uncomfortable seats but happened to stumble across Traxx Restaurant which looked nice and so decided to treat myself to some proper food.  For less than £30 I got a two course meal with wine and the opportunity to sit in a very nice location whilst I waited for my train - eat your heart out Burger King!

Eventually I thought I'd outstayed my welcome so wandered over to see if the train was ready yet and was able to get on and make myself comfortable in my sleeping compartment.  I was taking the Sunset Limited so was hoping for scenery as good as that as I saw on my first Amtrak trip.  I was a little disappointed - essentially West Texas is a lot of cactus and desert and not a lot else - there was little in the way of settlements and other action that broke up the Montana scenery.  

One photo and I'm going to try to upload and video that I took on my phone - so poor quality but will give a sense of it I hope!

Eventually arrived in Houston and was picked up by my friend Brad.  Despite living here for most of his life, Brad had to look up where the train station was - and I don't blame him to be honest, it was basically a shed and one track - compared with the incredible art-deco and impressive stations in other cities, it's nothing at all that you'd notice if you weren't looking for it!  

Brad took me over to the house and it was great to see Louise his wife again and also meet two new additions to the family - Ginger the dog and Sean their two year old son who is a real star!  More to follow including how I've lived up to Houston's reputation as the city that eats out the most in America and my trip to an American football game - I know you're both looking forward to that Gary and Alex N! 

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