A train through the desert!

I’d been having a ‘whale’ of a time in San Diego, testing out it’s many coffee shops. California isn’t well known for it’s great coffee however San Diego was proving to a caffeine lovers paradise. I’d been perusing the streets of San Diego with no intention of stopping anywhere until the delicious smell of  freshly roasted beans lured me into Cafe Zion. There I made myself a new home and started pondering where in the world I was going to go to next!

I turned out that I have a great Aunt and Uncle in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My Dad informed me that they would be mortally offended if they ever found out I had been on the West Coast and had not gone to visit them. Knowing the elderly generations of my families propensity to enjoy a good libation I thought this could be fun, octogenarians often have an excellent taste in alcohol!

Although not the fastest or cheapest way to get from California to New Mexico, I decided to take the Amtrak. America’s equivalent to national rail. The 24 hour overnight journey would take me from San Diego through the Airzonian outback and all the way to Albuquerque. I took the Surfliner train along the golden Californian coast up to LA there I changed onto the overnight train.

People say that traveling is all about discovering new experiences, well the train to New Mexico was definitely a new experience. Albuquerque is where most of the TV series Breaking Bad was filmed, and Alberquerquians lived up to their reputation. On my row of seats was one of the most tattooed individuals that I had ever seen. I don’t think that shaving your head and getting a huge crucifix tattooed on the back of it is good choice for anyone, not even the pope. This gangster introduced himself as Gabriel, and that was the start of a very one sided, very long conversation where Gabriel reminisced on his criminal career, misdemeanors and jail time. It was as if I had unwittingly stepped into a Louis Theruo documentary. Apparently I’d also changed my name to ‘homes’ and needed to be reminded of this every 30 seconds or so. In my very British opinion, the only person that should be called Homes is Sherlock.

Gabriel’s journey ended prematurely. He pilfered a bottle of red wine from the food cart, generously offered to share it with me, then proceeded to rapidly consume it. Red wine did not mix well with whatever drugs Gabriel had taken previously. Very soon his speech started to slur. As he embarked on a quest to the toilet he managed to lose the ability to walk and concluded his adventure by throwing up on himself. It was quite a relief when a group of police officers escorted him off the train at the next stop. Silently relieved I embarked on a quest of my own, trying to get a good nights sleep on an Amtrak seat.

The next morning I was awoken by the joyous news that a landslide on the tracks would delay us by some six hours. I started to question my decision to take the train. I would have been cheaper to fly and it would have only taken flown three hours…

However the adventure is in the journey and I spent my time chatting with a very cool American Football player called Joey. I showed him how to edit GoPro footage on iMovie much to the dismay of a large group of Amish people who sat next to us on the train. Eventually we made it to Albuquerque and with exhausted relief I met my Great Uncle and Aunty on the station!