"Always look on the bright side of life." Ta-dam. Ta-dam, ta-dam, ta-dam. This Monty Python song percolates around in my head because it's been over 5 hours that we've been standing in Fort Worth, Texas, waiting to be rerouted. Ahead of us a train carrying methanol (nasty stuff) has derailed. 12 cars overturned. Chemicals spilled everywhere. 10 houses evacuated. Don't worry, nobody was injured!
But, I'm jumping ahead. Let me start this day's adventures from the beginning.
Red is the first color I see after plastering my face over the window and staring outside in the morning. It was green in Seattle, white in Montana, beige closer to Chicago, and now on our way to Texas the soil and the carpet of fallen pine needles and even old crinkly leaves are red, russet, that deep rusty hue iron gives to everything it touches. I hear there is a lot of it here. Where there are furs growing, it makes it red and green, like Christmas. It's lovely.
There has been an unusual amount of rain lately, and it's raining as we're trundling along. The mud is pinkish, the puddles orange. It's a feast to the eye, soggy and colorful. And there are tons of cemeteries we're passing, always a cheery sight reminding you to do what you want with your life before it's too late.
But that's about it, in terms of sights. There hasn't been much variety to see, mostly city backyards with their usual warehouses and water towers and industrial alleys and such. Flat. It has been like this since Hope, AR, or at least since I woke up, all the way till our unexpected stop.
I have met wonderful people at breakfast and dinner. 10-year-old Owen who said he will read my book Rosehead (although I told him it's a terrible story about a rose garden that eats people), his mom, a mustached Home Depot contractor, a couple from Australia (he originally from Japan, a geophysicist, she originally from Holland) going to a conference, a college geography professor whose parents died within two weeks of each other and who was returning home after celebrating their lives with his family. We had fantastic conversations, especially about comparing train commuting in Japan and Russia.
Lunch I ate alone, in my roomette, while writing. My spirits were lowish because of the drab scenery and it was going slow. Also, the turkey meatballs I had for lunch didn't help. They were so good, and I felt so warm, I wanted to nap. So I did. And sat up with a start 30 minutes later, because I saw a dream. You see, I was stuck, not knowing what to write next, and then in a dream the scraping of the wheels on the track turned into an acapella sung by male voices, and that was what I wrote next. It freaked me out, but it was also perfect.
Oh, as I'm typing this, we have started moving!!! We were already behind a bit, but the spilled methanol has put us over 11 hours behind schedule. I'm learning that train travel comes with a natural expectation of the railway being obstructed by one thing or another. First mudslide, then methanol. I wonder what comes next. Bears protesting lack of squirrels? Not that bears eat squirrels, but maybe it's their new diet and they feel upset. And trains are a convenient target for some reason according to furry bear logic.
The down side of this is, I will spend less time with my daughter in LA. The upside is, I get more time to write on the train and I'm in the middle of a crazy adventure! This will make its way into my book one way or another. And Amtrak gave me a snack pack to compensate for my distress, and it had two cookies there, and I already ate them. Can I have more cookies, please? Thank you!
We have stopped again. Behind the window is rain, darkness, and Texas. Adventure continues.