I was greeted by my porter, who insisted on carrying my backpack for me because I
The Roomette is about the size of an average closet, with two seats facing each other in the daytime that fold down into a bed at night, with another bunk that swings down from the ceiling in a rather alarming manner to become a second bed.
This cozy little nook became my home (with a couple hours out for dining car fun) for the next seventeen hours. I read a book.
(The people in the roomette next to me probably wished I’d quit randomly guffawing.)
I knit on a shawl.
(The people in the roomette next to me probably wished I’d quit randomly yelling, “ARGH! SSK, not K2TOG! DOLT!!”)
I thought. I met people in the dining car. I watched the Sierras go by. They had snow.
In due course (by which I mean, at 3:30 in the @*^&@ing morning) I
Now…there is going to be a loooooooong post about my adventures in Salt Lake City in the wee hours of the morning. Oh my. People…well. I’ll tell you about it later, when I’m not exhausted and still feeling the gentle roll of the train. Thirty-four hours on a train over two and a half days? You will feel the rocking for a while.
So, there was a lot of trying to find someplace safe to hang out while I waited for the sun to rise, and the city to yawn itself awake. Salt Lake is a very slow-starting city on a Sunday. Travel hint: The Starbucks in the Sheraton hotel opens at 5:00, bless them. Once the sun was up and a reasonable number of non-scary people were out on the streets, I went and saw some things.
I saw some architecture. Lots of it. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of it. Salt Lake is a city I’ve driven around and even through, but I’ve never gotten out of the car and walked around. There is a lot to see. Rather than break your Internet, I’ll share just the one thing that for some reason amused me outside of all reason. The cat wants out, please!
Much architecture (oooh, aaah!) and shopping (you make this toffee by hand, you say?) and meeting some of the more interesting citizens of Salt Lake (hooboy) and knitting in public later (shameful!), I wandered over to…hmm…where to go, where to go…hmmmmm…oh, is that a library? A big beautiful public library? That sounds like a rockin’ good time…
Waitasecond…wait just a second here…is that…? I dunno…the picture…it’s kind of dark, kind of fuzzy, kind of shot by a complete idiot…
Wait! Here’s a picture taken by someone else, who apparently is much better at using my camera than I am!
Yeah. That’s right. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was my insanely fun yet somewhat silly excuse for the trip.
It must be stated first that my overall mental grasp of geography is…somewhat poor. I remembered driving around and through Salt Lake on several occasions, and thus put it quite a bit closer to Reno than it actually is. Reno is roughly five hours from my house, and I thought, “And, Salt Lake is, what, an hour further?”
Yeah. Try FIVE HOURS FURTHER, Tama.
So it was “my” weekend (I still get one out of every six to eight), and hey! One of my favorite authors is going to be in Salt Lake, which is what, six hours from me? Five if “speed limit” is pronounced “speed suggestions”?
And I thought it would be great to actually see Salt Lake.
Then I looked at a map.
That’s a lot further than I thought.
I thought about flying (too expensive). I thought about just going for it and driving (my hip has a nasty habit of giving out on me when least convenient, like, say, in the middle of the desert on I-80). And I was on the verge of shrugging and saying, “Oh well, eventually she’ll come to San Francisco…” (oh, irony: she was in San Francisco, the day I left for Salt Lake!) when I thought of the train. I love trains with the pure love of an infatuated child, but I’d never done anything longer than my commute on one. I’ve been flirting with the idea of making one of “my” weekends a train weekend.
Once my husband gave me his blessing for not being home until dinnertime on Monday, the deal was made.
I’ve wanted to do an overnight Amtrak trip for the longest time. And now I have. It was a ton of fun and a great way to travel. I’d do it again in a heartbeat…although not without an actual layover of some sort. Getting off the train at 3:30 in the morning and having to find places to perch for eighteen hours on only a couple hours sleep was…kinda rough.
But totally worth it. Salt Lake is a cool city, and of course listening to Stephanie was an absolute blast. The whole ‘Harlot Experience’ is just a big old hoot, from the expression on the faces of the Muggles (“Uh…whoa…that’ssssssss…a-lot-a-knitters!”) to chatting with people who had come from as near as a few blocks to as far as Montana, admiring other people’s socks and shawls and baby blankets and spinning wheels (yes, there were spinning wheels in use during her talk).
Sitting there, listening to her being smart and funny and putting into words things I’ve thought or felt, knitting a sock without worrying that she’s going to look out and frown at me with that “Pay attention! I am speaking here!” expression, surrounded by other people busily knitting without fear of reprimand…all of us laughing hopelessly every eight seconds…it was brilliant.
I had found a chocolate shop (oh, there’s a surprise, Tama found chocolate in a major city, quick!, somebody call the 6:00 news…) and I liked them so well I bought some for her.
There are things you just can’t say to someone in words, either because you don’t really know them well enough or because you can’t say them without sounding either stalker-scary or supremely dorky. Or all of the above.
So I gave her chocolate, my way of saying, “Thank you so much for doing what you do. Thanks for being brave enough to put yourself out there. You’ve given me inspiration in my knitting, bravery in the face of steeks and the chutzpah to say, ‘I can totally handle this lace pattern’. Followed closely by the ability to not only laugh but to know I am not alone when I have to rip out fifteen rows of messed up lace because I cannot reliably and/or repeatedly count to seven. Thanks for making me laugh – you’ve made me laugh so many times, about so many things. Thanks for being smart, and funny, and generous, and a brilliant writer and knitter. And by the way, you are not in fact the dorkiest person alive…I am SO dorkier than you could ever hope to be. Seriously.”
And then I made my way back to the Sheraton, which had the dubious good fortune of being my ‘safe place’ while waiting for the insanely late departure of the California Zephyr. (They were very nice to me. They even gave me a ride to the station when it was finally time.) (Although, on reflection, maybe this was merely a way to get rid of me, because I had now spent almost nine hours altogether loitering around their lobby, restaurant, Starbucks and bar…knitting…)
And then I caught the train to Sacramento, and drove home, and was swarmed by Denizens.
Even the newest one.
(This is Dharma. She is approximately twelve years old [which means she ranks the other Denizens], and the sweetest cat ever. She had to find a new home when some bad allergy issues came up, and by golly, we’d been pondering the idea of getting a cat – so here she is, and unless her mommy says she wants her back she’s here to stay. She’s already figured out how to insinuate herself onto my lap while I’m knitting, and then she’ll occasionally put up a paw to remind me: It’s Knit One, Purl Two, Pet the kitty, dear…)