The ride into Utah last night was quiet. There was even less outside than when in Nevada, and the night sky was bathed in clearly visible stars. We reached Salt Lake City around 3AM local time and should exit Utah for Colorado in about 4 hours.
When I bought my train tickets, I had to decide if I wanted to pay extra to reserve a sleeping cabin - or sleep in my coach seat for no extra charge. I figured it was a no-brainer to just buy coach seats: I’ll rarely spend more than a night in the train anyway, the cost for sleeper cars is significant, and I can sleep pretty much anywhere. Indeed, I slept in my seat when my family took a similar (but shorter) train trip when I was a kid.
Well, when I was a kid I didn’t have to deal with this cumbersome 6-foot-4 body. Last night was restless! I tossed and turned for hours until I was mercifully allowed one hour of disturbed sleep. I figure by that point, my weariness outweighed my discomfort. I woke around 6AM with advanced carpal tunnel, a twisted spine and oppositely twisted neck, and numb feet. But as I sit in the lounge car, sipping coffee, surrounded by vast chaparral and watching the sun rise over painted rock formations - I’ll be damned if this isn’t the happiest I’ve been in years.
Update: Colorado (4:45PM MT)
The California Zephyr follows the Colorado River through most of the state, before it enters Nebraska. The scenery is unreal - like out of a Western movie. Just canyon after canyon, mostly undeveloped land and the occasional ranch, and the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. It actually takes effort to not imagine cowboys watching over our vulnerable train from a high vantage point. Ruby Canyon is particularly cinematic. We’re now making our way down the Rockies into Denver. The path through the mountains is tunnel-ridden - one is almost 3 miles long.
Today I befriended the bicycle hobo who stole my seat yesterday - Dmitri. A Colorado native, he’s been riding his bike around the country for the past year. He got off a couple hours ago at his hometown of Fraser. I talked to Dmitri for several hours today, but I only understood some of what he said. He mumbles, and his stories often go in circles or quadrilaterals or something.
Dmitri is a bonafide traveler. He believes in self-sufficiency and aspires to be invisible. You can smell how light he packs. He’s camped in everything from snow to Redwood forests to sidewalks. Before he biked, he kayaked; and before that, he drove trucks. Dmitri derives much joy from being rude to invasive cops and is more than happy to skip town when a warrant is issued for his arrest after he refuses to pay his fines. Canada won’t allow him entry - he wouldn’t tell me why.