Texas Trains

Look at that! A Texas sky and an old railroad with no barriers. Us Texans are brave…

I recently had the good fortune to travel to Brenham in the Texas hill country for work.  It is a small country town, German in origin, north west of Houston.  The last time I traveled for work was in the UK, to grim industrial towns in England.  This trip was much better with perfect spring weather in Texas (hot summer weather in UK).

I used to be terribly frightened of railroad crossings but since moving here, I have had to get used to them.  Most of them around me have no barriers so the train uses the horn for miles – a sound I love.  Sometimes on a quiet night I can hear them at night about 4 miles in the distance.  Now I just stop briefly at the railroad and check there are no trains (not everyone stops…)  The crossing above was right in the middle of the old section of town.

Santa Fe Depot

These train company names immediately bring nostalgic memories of old American movies and I dream of jumping on a wagon to travel across country.

Abandoned train line

Or at least I think it is abandoned – it is sometimes hard to tell out in the countryside.  As I child I would have constantly been on these train lines imagining the destinations.

Yellow train

This is just one part of a very long train that had dozens of wagons.  They sometimes are so long that it takes 20 minutes for one to pass.

Wildflowers beside the Walmart

As I was leaving the Super Walmart I noticed this field of bluebonnets, followed by red wildflowers and finally yellow.  The sky was very overcast and it gave a surreal feel to the field.  I attempted a photo watercolor below.

Watercolor created by using Photoscape

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Train Spotting

Santa Fe Depot, San Diego

Underneath my superficially normal appearance lurks a train geek. I thought I loved trains in the UK but trains in America are way cooler! I just need to hear a train whistle to get excited; I must be one of very few of the millions of people who live in the Houston area that gets stuck waiting for a concrete train to pass for 20 minutes and doesn’t mind.

Bright Red Trolley

As I walked towards the water from the Gaslamp area in San Diego my heart skipped a beat when I saw this fabulous old Santa Fe depot.  It was built in Spanish colonial revival style in 1915. The hub combines access to Amtrak trains and the San Diego trolley system, buses and the San Diego Coaster, a commuter service. Although we are surrounded by trains in Houston and all over Texas, very few are accessible to people. Most ship goods from our frenetically busy port of Houston to all over North America.

Only 2000 plus miles to New York

There is a silly Subaru advert on TV about living an alternative lifestyle that is clearly better than everyone else’s but I do like the one where the girl with the turned-up nose looks longingly at an open train that drifters might ride on. Here is a link to what we call a SMUGAROO
advert – just casting a little shade…😈 Teddy and I argued endlessly about it the girl. I thought her nose looked like mine but Teddy was adamant that my nose was much nicer. We still keep arguing about it!

The coolest ticket station!

It is my dream to travel on the Amtrak train from Houston to California but the price is not right. Train travel is a luxury these days. Still I can dream.

I really admired the way San Diego had managed to blend the old with the new in a vibrant city.

Old and new architecture

The Scotsman on the train

This is the main train station in Glasgow.  So many hearts have been broken under that clock.  Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

This is the main train station in Glasgow. So many hearts have been broken under that clock. Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

I briefly mentioned this fine gentleman in a previous post Sexual History through the Ages – Part II
A couple of years ago, I was on one of my regular trips to the UK and took some time to visit friends in Aberdeenshire. Scotland is a small country with an excellent transportation system. You can fly from Aberdeen to Glasgow but it is easier to hop on one of the frequent trains. I had to travel about 30 miles to the train station by bus and was perplexed by a young man wearing a kilt. Men do wear kilts in Scotland but not in everyday life unless they are a busker or going to a wedding.

When I arrived at the train station in Aberdeen, there were kilties everywhere! My heart sank – that meant they were travelling to Glasgow to attend an international soccer tournament and in this case it was Belgium. That is the other occasion when men wear their kilts. Drinking and soccer go together like a margarita and fiesta. We are fairly sophisticated in Scotland and the trains always have a trolley with food and alcoholic drink to purchase. As you can image, that is expensive.

We all rushed to get on the train when the barrier lifted. Sometimes you reserve a seat but usually you will find something. I managed to find an airplane seat (without a table) and ensconced myself in the window seat. The train was filling up very quickly with not just soccer fans but men returning from oil rigs. I focused on my Kindle but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of oil workers sitting at a table but one of them broke away from the pack and sat next to me.

Sigh! I am not usually this rude but I could already smell some liquor on his breath and I just wanted a quiet trip. His friends were sniggering like school boys about him sitting next to me. After a few minutes there was an out-stretched hand in front of me and a voice saying, “Hi, I’m Nick”. There was no alternative but to turn around and look at him. I probably gasped and my eyes might have dilated. Not only was he tall, dark and handsome but he was the spitting image of my psychiatrist. It was uncanny and I have always had a crush on my psychiatrist although it is fading after 11 years.

He misunderstood my reaction and immediately thought, “I’m in with a chance!” We started chatting and then he must have seen Kind Kerry hiding behind Sexy Kerry because he revealed to me that his mentor had just died in a terrible oil rig accident (that was all over the news) and he was devastated. I summoned up all my counselling skills and listened to him. It was fine to start with and then I noticed that he, and all the other men on the train, had their own supplies of liquor under the seat.

The steward came around with the trolley, totally out of his depth with some of the bad behavior that was already happening on this crowded train, and I ordered a glass of wine. ‘May as well join in’, thought I. As the journey progressed Nick got drunker and then noticed Sexy Kerry again. Oh dear… There was nowhere for me to go, he had lost all sense of personal space and determined to flirt with the first woman he had seen in weeks.

Coincidentally, we had been brought up very close to each other in Glasgow and I guess he thought we were the same age. He revealed he was 42 and I was about 53 then. He was convinced that we had met at one of the clubs and been intimate. More sighing from Kerry; trapped in a third of her original seat. If we had been intimate I would have been the worst babysitter in the world. 🙂

The water boarding was not yet over. Finally the drink made him aggressive and unpleasant. Swearing and talking about politics, very loudly. At long last the train trundled into Glasgow. I was stressed and irritated because I had just missed a beautiful journey by train with nostalgic landmarks. He was drunk and annoyed. I can only hope that his wife was able to deal with him better than I. I wish I could think of a moral in this tale but there is none! It was just another weird traveling story with Kerry.