The Joy is in the Journey

It’s nice sometimes to take a day or two get away and clear your head. Riding the Coast Starlight last weekend from LA to Portland for ITSC and NCCE was my chance to do a mental shut down and restart, clearing out some brain space for the massive information download I’d be experiencing at these back to back conferences.

The 30 hour rail journey was just that. Even though I brought reading material I spent most of the time just staring out the window. Saturday the train hugged the California coast up to San Luis Obispo then headed inland through lush green hills toward Paso Robles, then north to San Jose, Oakland, and over to Sacramento. Sunday morning I woke up to snow flurries as we crossed into Oregon. Passing Klamath Falls the train chugged up into Cascades toward Cascade Pass (about 5000 ft) and eventually down to Eugene. From there it was a straight shot up the Willamette Valley to Portland.

Some Random Observations from the journey:

  • A dozen deer leaping through the hills outside Santa Barbara
  • 12 foot surf crashing along the coast near Pt. Conception
  • several startled cattle scrambling ungracefully away from the train as we climbed out of San Luis Obispo
  • Rolling hills near Paso Robles turned a velvety green from recent rain storms
  • Sipping coffee early Sunday morning in the Parlor car, watching the wind & snow swirling outside through the Shasta/Trinity National Forest
  • peeking through snow covered evergreens at the view of Odell Lake climbing up toward Cascade Pass
  • Clear blue skies and views of Mt. Hood outside Salem. (Oregonians would say, “The mountains are out today.”)

During my rail trip last summer (see Amtrak Adventure blog post from July ’08) I lamented the fact that I was unable to get Internet access on the train. This time I was armed with my Blackberry and it’s 3G connection to keep me in touch with my twitter & plurk friends. This also allowed me to post pictures, videos, and even do a couple of Skype video chats from my compartment. The laptop tethering worked great when I was able to get a cell phone signal. (See photo slide show and video below.)

Arriving at Portland Union Station late Sunday afternoon I hopped on the MAX light rail to the ITSC Conference at the Portland Airport Sheraton. With work 1000 miles away and my head clear it’s time to do some learning. Let the conversations begin.

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