April 15, 2014
We’re back on the train, and I’ve already noticed a change in the passengers. We are seated in front of a group of crude truck drivers who are en route to Reno, Nevada. On one hand, the belches and farts emanating from the rear are intrusive. On the other hand, these folks bring an exotic body of knowledge to the forefront. For example, sandwiched between burps, I learned that Mountain Dew registers on a breathalyzer and that grapes, “really gas you up.” Indispensable travel advice from bona fide road warriors.
The fascinating chatter did not stop there. Down in the dining car, a sloshed Clint Eastwood doppelgänger mused that he, “Lived in these mountains for five years. Moved back to Illinois to save a marriage. I tell you what, I should’ve stayed in these mountains.” A sad tale indeed. He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular.
As most drunks do, he initiated conversation with the first willing pulse. A solemn, silent Native American who hadn’t changed his expression or uttered a word in 40 minutes sat nearby. Not even alcohol could pierce their cultural separation. So, by default, the dining car attendant was the lucky man.
The attendant and the drunk Clint Eastwood-looking former mountain man’s conversation went down like this: (Keep in mind that we are approaching western Colorado and heading further northwest).
Clint: “How long until we cross the Grand Canyon?”
Attendant: “Sir, we don’t come anywhere near the Grand Canyon.”
Clint: “Man, I am lost.”
Stoic Native American: “Grand Canyon in Arizona.”
Clint: “Yeah, but…” (trails off)
Stoic Native American: Gives up, stares out window.
Clint: “Maybe I’m thinking of my next train.”