Amtrak Excursion 2014
2014 Ted H. Schaar
 
13. Merced to the Ace

Merced Amtrak depot sign
Merced station.
Photo by Pedro Xing.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merced_station_2387_06.JPG
w#mediaviewer/File:Merced_station_2387_06.JPG)


Waiting

Reached Merced at about 7:00 p.m., and had to wait until 9:15 for the train to Sacramento.

Station was functional, practically empty, about half a mile from the closest business. 

Hanging out

Two groups walked in and out.  One was a trio of late-teen guys looking for something to do. Two Hispanics and a European-American--all smokers.  They seemed familiar to the depot manager who had an angry exchange with the bigger Hispanic kid. 

Women

The second group comprised three late teens or early 20s lesbians.  Two were a couple--at first I thought the slim, dark one dressed in black with chrome chains and slicked back hair was a man.  But, later, when she swaggered by, I noticed small breasts through her camouflaging clothing. 

Her love interest was a buxom blond who displayed a lot of cleavage, pin-up style.  Later I noticed them smooching torridly against the depot wall as a train approached.

The third member had a classic tomboy look.  She wore jeans and a dumpy sweatshirt; had messy, blond-brown hair; and looked angry. 

Pam developed a problem with her eyes and called a cab to take her to Walgreens. Fortunately it had her prescription in a database so it was as if it was just down the street. 

Lesbians, bored youth, national Walgreens.  Completely twenty-first century.


Merced, California station.
Merced station.
Photo by Pedro Xing.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merced_station_2387_05.JPG
#mediaviewer/File:Merced_station_2387_05.JPG)


Coach

Our train to Sacramento was on-time, and a smiling conductor helped with our bags. 

For the short duration of this leg, we sat in coach seats, which are plenty comfortable and ten times better than anything you'll find on a plane.

A young mother with her small daughter and son sat near us. 

Both kids were asleep in one train seat when we boarded, but the daughter woke and was overtired for the rest of the trip.  Mom was patient and loving.  When we got to Sacramento, Pam and I watched the kids while she collected their luggage. 

We walked a ways through the Sacramento depot's lower recesses and eventually found the train to Portland known as the Coast Starlight, got aboard, and were able to sleep about five hours.
Storage drums
Wednesday morning in Oregon.
Oregon crops
When religion ruled the world

Had breakfast with a friendly retired couple from Portland. The husband was a former restaurant owner, and
she had been a middle school teacher. He was a guitarist, owned a Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, and played a Gibson J-50 on loan from a friend.

Progressives, all, we talked about Wisconsin's currently Dark Ages politics. 
Albany depot
Greenery

Oregon plants along the tracks look like they'd grow well in Wisconsin, but the Cascades in the distance make it clear we're a long way from home. 

Lush. 

Rolling through here is like being in a green tunnel.  Conifer and deciduous trees down both sides of the track. 

We've disappeared into five tunnels, some fairly long.

At the moment, we are waiting for freight trains to clear the rails ahead. 

Oregon trees.
Salem, Oregon
 Portland

Text to Tim in Portland: "Coming at you. Hope to do a little picking. Staying at the Ace Hotel, but just one night. Leaving Thursday. Uncle Ted."

Tim: "Welcome to Oregon!!"

"Be there soon. Only about 1/2 hour away. Will call when we get to the Ace."

Ace hotel
Got to the Ace Hotel (above) in a cab that had a sign on the inner back door that said:  "Support local businesses, pay cash."  I paid cash.
Ace Hotel Portland
Ace room interior
Platform beds, unusual decor, felt right at home, highly recommended. Thanks, Tim.





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