Please wake the Ghost Train

Back in Europe, I traveled often by train. Even now, when going overseas on summer vacations, I am always marveled by the slick high speed trains traveling through Europe and Asia. Just simply cool and highly energy efficient. Well, I am in the US since 1987 and never boarded a train. So, I really wanted to change that. After all, global warming is indirectly smoking up California each summer, and some say, California and the US are the leading power towards a carbon neutral paradise, at least that is what we are told.

So, I though a train trip from San Luis Obispo (SLO) to San Francisco (SF) would be cool. It’s a train line with a lot of history, nice scenery, along the coast and coastal mountain range. So, here are my research results: The distance is just 200 miles, or 320 km. There is only one train that goes through without changing over, either to another train or bus. It takes 6hrs and 19 min and costs $45 for one way, but leaves SLO at 15:35 and arrives in SF at 21:54. There is another train/bus combination that leaves early in the morning at 6:55, but arrives after 15hrs and 23min, at 22:18 in SF and it costs $95. Ohh, that ain’t the future in smooth transportation! I guess, I keep on refraining using the train in California and look forward to a high speed train ride abroad that would take only 45 min or so for the same distance.

The speedy train that only takes a little over 15hrs for the 200 miles.

Dear train ghost, please awaken the old steam engines that could travel at 100 miles/hour already 100 years ago!

High Speed Steam Engine Ghost

Art by Nature

Over the last 200 Million+ Years, read and white sand formations were built up in Canyonlands, Utah. Then, the Artist named “Wind & Weather” started to chisel sculptures. If made by Henry Moore, those sculptures would be catching dust in a museum or private collection.

The Stone Creatures in Canyonland, Utah

Another artful object arrangement, first grown by nature and after death, sculptured by “Wind, Weather & Others”.

Artful Arrangement

A Modern Fairytale – The Accidental Tourist in Merced

Once upon a time, just three days ago, an European tourist arrives in downtown Merced and gets a room in the newly renovated hotel “The Tioga”.

Hotel “The Tioga” in Merced, CA

The day is still young and so our tourist decides to find a bar and have a beer. After all, rumors have it that news are made by bar associates.

Salon is not a Saloon

Having studied British English for nearly a decade, it is still confusing for our tourist to understand what a difference of one “o” in a word can make…. Yet, after getting quickly lectured by a lady barber, he gets it.

Soon, he sees a sign “TrainRobbersSaloon”… if they sell cold beer?

TrainRobbersSaloon, Merced, CA

Upon entering a dark and funny colored Saloon, he asks the bartender for a beer. Environmentally friendly or so…, the bartender asks back, bottle or glass? Well, being from Europe’s number one Fancy City, he would never drink beer from a bottle. So, he orders the beer in a glass. After drinking several ice cold beers, our tourist starts to feel funny and decides to go back to the hotel.

Walking the streets of downtown Merced, his vision turns multi colors and multi everything… and he starts to wonder if that is just the result of the alcohol in the beers or some additive?

Finally, he sees his Hotel in the distance, although it may be difficult to find the entrance. With what is left of his temporary mental departure, he recalls a friend’s saying: “Drink beer only from the bottle in strange Saloons!”

El Capitan and The Tioga, Downtown Merced, CA

Colors and Possibilities

More about downtown Merced. I still can’t believe how many life stories, beauty, and charming decay speak from all corners … just walking for two hours along a hardly 1 Mile long stretch of old downtown, I collected stories and little impressions to generate posts here for weeks to come…

Already, the first two upscale hotels in renovated old buildings cast their shadows to the future to come, will it be gentrification? How will it impact the people calling this old downtown of past glory their home base? Until then, I feel the urge to freeze some of the life stories unfolding and imprints visible all over. Today, my photo is about the possibilities shop windows can provide to create colorful impressions. Playing with color fuels our imagination. Don’t you think so? Enjoy!