Giving the End to Gratitude

The train rolls into secret California hills. It goes through Vandenburg Air Force Base, the vast ranch that launches ICBMs and military satellites from ginormous launch pads and even has a huge emergency landing strip for the shuttle. It passes Point Conception, where the southern and northern currents of the Pacific meet and blend biologies, and Point Honda, where a Navy admiral who didn’t trust radio technology steered his fleet onto the rocks.

Desert hills and abandoned drills, burnt rock and desolate towns all with an uncompromising beauty. Closing in on the Bay Area, industrial ag is everywhere. You can see the vast machinery and fields where the gentle green growth is ripped out of ground and processed on lines of belts and ramps, dumped into trucks for transport, processed, packaged, and delivered to shelf a perfect thing.

Time in the Bay is off the train training and into a blur of family and friends, finding burritos, sun on sea and moon on sleep, street fair and the perfect boarding to the last segment of the journey, Jack London Square to Portland on the Coast Starlight.

Everything has become perfect. The kind fellow in the seat next to me who makes sure to find me with my coupon after the dining car AC craps out and Amtrak buys us all Subway sandwiches. The sleep in the lounge car, waking at dawn to gaze back at Shasta as we return to Oregon.

30 days out there. Gone and back and still rolling. I expected to arrive exhausted but I’m ready to keep going.

The main thing I credit this to is my amazing People all along the way, the ones who really made this trip. At almost every single stop, I merely had to take a few steps from the train before I was greeted by a great friend or a few, embraced, and tossed in a vehicle of homegrown good times.

To all who provided piled-high plates and deep pours and even dessert, great hikes, comfortable beds, rides to and fro and back, stories remembered and stories made, target practice, space of silence and wandering, kids to throw around and dogs to play with, introductions to new friends, celebrations of life and union, tours of lights and dreams,

I extend my deepest love and gratitude.

On to the next!

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