Tag Archives: Sacramento

New York City Moves To The Sound Of LA

1 Nov

Rolling on through what I can only describe as a creepy uneasiness of Salt Lake City, the bleached bones of Nevada and the ‘Little Big’ town of Reno, I finally barrel through the jagged Sierra Nevada mountains and into California. The land of pines and palms, crystal glasses and crystal meth, Steinbeck’s paradisiacal finishing line, Schwarzeneggar’s political stomping grounds and ultimate collapsed legacy, California has it all, the land of yellow gold, black gold and silicon gold. It’s the third largest state in the Union, the most populous, and has the second- and sixth-largest cities in the United States, namely Los Angeles and San Diego. Other cities of note: San Francisco and Sacramento still entice hopeful refugees just as they have been doing since California was admitted to the Union in 1850. My first stop in the Golden State, Sacramento, is the State Capital, and the western end of the original Trans-Continental Railroad, the starting line for the Central Pacific Railroad as they ploughed East, laying track, blasting rocks and fighting Indians. Since crossing the state line, I have been on a train hurtling down from the northern mountains onto a vast, dry plain. California countryside always looks dry. I am only in Sacramento for a few hours, but I have enough time for a pint, so I walk to Old Sacramento to indulge myself. It’s my first city in California, and Old Sacramento is built up like the Old West. The saloon I venture into has peanut shells on the floor, a spittoon running along the foot of the bar, sarsaparilla specials and a wax cowboy, complete with gun. I strike up a conversation with a retired property manager lamenting his decision to road trip with his wife and reminiscing of his good friend, currently in Cambodia with his third wife, a twenty-one year old ‘Asian goddess’. Either way, he and his wife reunited after a few hours respite from each other and continued through on their way through to Mexico.

I got on an uneventful train to Fresno, and finally arrived to see my good friend Nick on the platform. We’d gone through music college together in Coventry. His chin befitted his status as a guitarist in a bluegrass band (see the Links page), covered in a thick beard that Ambrose Burnside would have been proud of. And Fresno is where I have been, indulging myself with California Burritos from Robertitos, Taco Bell, Hot n’ Ready and In N Out Burgers, and plenty of whiskey. In retrospect, it hasn’t been the healthiest week or so. Turning southward, I went to Los Angeles through Bakersfield, and a complete change in topography to vast farms, oil fields complete with busy derricks, rolling iron hills covered in tufty scrub and one of the most horrendous car accidents I have ever seen (even worse than some of the Ghanaian wrecks).

And now, Los Angeles before my flight to Sydney. My journey to America began with the Atlantic Ocean and is finishing with the Pacific. But more on that when I leave.

Trains

26 Oct

Chicago

After leaving Memphis for yet another overnight bus, I left the South and arrived in Chicago at 9am. I had a few hours to burn, so I took in a few sights: the river, the Lake, and of course the Willis Tower. Now that is a sight. Nearly twice as tall as Canary Wharf, I had thought the Empire State was a big lady, but the Willis Tower is absolutely enormous. What’s more, it takes up it’s own block, so you can walk all the way around it. But I wasn’t in Chicago long, before I boarded a 52-hour train to Fresno.

Trains

The 2,500 mile train ride was fantastic. In the first day we shot across Illinois, crossed the Mississippi (again), went through the farmland of Iowa, Des Moines, into Nebraska and Omaha, by morning were just coming into Colorado. Stopping in Denver (cold), we then went up into the magnificent Rockies for some seriously epic views. We then came down the other side after crossing through the Moffat Tunnel into Utah, Salt Lake City (creepy) and Nevada, into the Sierra Nevada range and then stopping at Sacramento, which was where I had to get a connecting train. Saying goodbye to the friends I had made on the two-day train ride, I went into quaint Old Sacramento for a beer, which I had with a nice retired guy who was taking a well-earned respite from roadtripping with his wife in the bar, before getting on the train to Fresno.