Dawn in Pudong. I was excited: I was a shower, a taxi ride, two flights, and a town car ride from home after a long and trying trip.
I stocked up on macronutrients, fiber, and electrolytes during the pandemic. The pile is considerably smaller now, but believe it or not this was only about a six-week supply.
Casmalia, a healing beauty
Just off of the Vandenberg Air Force Base reservation we turned inland and rode through this hidden valley of oaks and sycamores surrounded by rolling green hills. I’d never been through Casmalia, and it looked like a hidden gem.
But this beautiful place has a rough past. It had been a railroad boomtown when the Southern Pacific first came through, then an oil boomtown when the oilfields nearby were still producing. Finally, just over the hill in the background somebody opened a toxic waste dump in 1973 that wound up polluting the groundwater. The EPA shut the dump down and took it over in 1992 as a Superfund site, and the effort to remove some 4.6 billion pounds of toxic waste is still underway.
The town is starting to return to normal, but I can see a time in the future when, the ground water once again clean, more life will come to this beautiful little valley.
OCD Moment – Road Duds
You know you are looking forward to heading home when, three days before the end of your two-week business trip, you’re already laying out your clothes for the flight.
It’s about 40F outside of my tent as I make my early morning run for bladder relief, and the sun and sky are putting on a show as the rest of the troop sleeps. I had to stop and gawk, letting nature’s call go temporarily unanswered.
Camping in the desert is a delight for me in all but the hottest guy of summer, and it is moments like this that remind me that I need to get out here more often.
Back to (Scouter) school
Most people don’t realize how much we adult Scout leaders (“Scouters”) invest in getting trained and training others. For every hour I spend leading my Troop, I spend an hour training, being trained, or preparing to train. This is all in addition to the time spent planning, fundraising, and preparing for activities.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. If we are to provide our youth with the safe environment that they and their families have every reason to expect, all while building outdoor skills, learning to lead, trying an incredibly broad range of activities, and taking on high-adventure challenges, every leader needs to be a student.
Southern Pacific Caboose
Superseded by advances in technology and railroad management, the noble caboose no longer rides the rails in the United States. Southern Pacific #1886, shown here, has not only been saved from the scrappers by the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, who have spruced her up to like-new condition inside and out from the wheels to the chimney.
Riding past this, I added the museum to my bucket list.
Mugology: The Cherry of Seattle
Not far from Pioneer Square in Seattle is the Cherry Street Coffee House, a hidden oasis of superb coffee and healthy eats.
Sure, there are plenty of little joints scattered around Seattle, but I keep finding myself going back to this one. Cherry Street also boasts one of those bohemian dining areas that beg you to sit down, pull out your laptop or your Moleskine, and start creating.
That it’s a block from my company’s Seattle office, a block from my preferred hotel, and a block from the LINK light rail line to Sea-Tac make it one of the best-located writer’s nooks on my list anywhere.
I think it’s time to cook up a reason for a deductible junket…
Back to My Happy Place
Car 33, Room A, aboard the Southwest Chief, boarding at Chicago Union Station. Welcome to my favorite vacation spot.
You can have your beaches. You can have your spas. My idea of total relaxation and rejuvenation is a weekend – or a week – in a private sleeper aboard a long-distance train across America.
Amtrak is my happy place.