13 4 8
We should’ve been on a train. But no.
Rail service is cancelled today. “They” are working on the tracks north of Oceanside. The one patch I was most looking forward to, Camp Pendleton. As I write this we’re on a bus rolling right through there. Here.
And there are the tracks, empty, alone. Damn you, Amtrak! I can see Catalina. Someone’s riding a bike (here). Campground beach parking lot on the old highway slaughter alley.
The hills are green and golden, covered with wildflowers and fress grass. At 11:46 am, the megalopolis of Calangeles swallows up up.
The face of a man staring out the window. Look! It’s me! Look! It’s him! Look! It’s you!
Long Beach. 12:23
Los Angeles. 13:30
Union Station 13:46
Oh guess what? A freight derailment. Yes. Another bus, this time to Tucson.
Pomona. But then we don’t stop in Ontario.
Old Baldy – Mt San Antonio – crawls by, its barren rocky top fleshed with a faint dust of white snow. I admire the shifting shape of mountains, but only wish we were riding in the train and I were watching from the view lounge car, not a bus. At least the bus is classy and has a decent suspension.
I fall asleep briefly and then wake myself with a snoring snort. We are still crossing the vast inner valleys behind Los Angeles. Drawing near to Riverside and San B’do. The great dry rivers have specks of water here, there. Freeways stack below the mountain peaks. I worry about my mother. She worries about me. I got so upset when the train couldn’t take us from San Diego. By now it has just become one, big joke. When they told us no train in LA, I burst out laughing.
Union Station was beautiful, and I was so happy to finally arrive there, and… then….
“You’re joking,” Mom said when I told her.
One of the sights I most miss seeing is that canyon valley away from the freeway where the train tracks run alone through open land. We aren’t seeing that from the bus.
But the earth is lovely nonetheless, decked in green fading toward yellow.
Back in the city, approaching the Los Angeles Greyhound station, I wrote on a scrap of paper:
The bloom of wet spring is starting to fade under the hot sun. The green trees turn dark, the fresh grass yellows and dries, the wildflowers wither and die. Still plenty of electricity marching around in wires and towers. This city drinks water from beyond the mountains.
There be many windmills generating power in the great pass just northwest of Palm Springs.
And then we are in the desert. I had looked forward to eating dinner in the desert, and now… nothing. But this view of development after development scattering its blocky stamp across the rolling, sandy floor of Coachella valley. Golf courses wreathed in trees, then barren scrub fields of no irrigation. Backed up trains waiting on the tracks, thorny tamarisk trees whispering the truth that no air conditioning can deny, only hide.
We will not be going by the Salton Sea. Another disappointment. Only catch a glimpse of it in the distance before we turn with Interstate 10 into some low and dusty hills.
the splendor of the burnt and burnished rocks
heaped up into jagged hills
turns and slides
outside our bus windows
hurtling east toward Blythe
I almost forget I would’ve rather been on a train
a good thing
I like busses
Takes the bruise off this rather rotten luck fruit
_ _ _ _ _
There be some pipes over there
lancing halfway up the mountain
someone’s aqueduct feeding the monsters on the coast
pity this busy monster
Mom – look – there’s a piece of the old highway over there…. see the old bridge?
Wow… that brings back memories….
_ _ _ _ _
I can’t stop reflecting, with prejudice and bias and discrimination, that this is a classier bunch of people than you might find, for example, on a Greyhound bus.
Because the people on this bus did not choose to be here – we chose to be on a train.
The dark young mother with her three children so happy to play with playdough. The shortpant homeboy with a diamond stickpin in one ear and a cellphone on the other. The courthey-keanu wannabe lookalike couple from LA who sleep and read in separate seats. The tattoed fat man who is so obese that a bubble roll of fat buckles up from his neck and doubles under onto his shaved scalp. A smattering of retired couples who wanted to take the train for adventure and look. Here we are, sidetracked onto a bus across the desert.
I hope we stop for dinner soon. Maybe in Blythe.
STATE PRISON NEXT EXIT
do not pick up hitchhikers
instead of a table rolling beside
a desert view of the Salton Sea
we wolf down a burder and shake
in the Blythe local gag in the bag
surrounded by burnt desert cholos
and a sprinkling of semi-gabachos
from our bus
out of time
. . . . . . . . . . .