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So long, Bay Area. It's been wet.
Today is a big day: I’m bound for Los Angeles.
I’m relieved to report that I’m on a train, and all of my gear is on this train, too. Boarding was… hectic. Since I can’t quite carry all my gear at once, I had to leave a bag unattended on the platform while moving the first load into the luggage racks, and there was no employee around to indicate when the train might start rolling again. On the other hand, there was also no employee around to charge me the $20 I expected to pay to secure a berth for my folding bike. The sense of adventure was further enhanced by the rain falling throughout the boarding process. All in all, I’m very happy to now be on board, cozy and dry, taking in the views and tapping away on my laptop.
One small disappointment, though: I was hoping to be on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight line today, a beautiful route that includes amazing views of California’s Central Coast. Unfortunately, flooding and mudslides in the Santa Barbara area have forced Amtrak to close sections of track until the end of January. When the closure was announced earlier this week, I had to rebook onto the San Joaquins line, which is a major downgrade. For one thing, the San Joaquins runs inland through the much-less-picturesque Central Valley, so I don’t have any ocean views to share with you. Even worse, this train dumps me in Bakersfield, where I have to transfer to an Amtrak bus for the remainder of the trip to LA. Bummer.
Assuming all goes well in Bakersfield, I’ll emerge at Union Station in LA late this afternoon. From there I plan to bike about 16 miles to the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, where I’ll be staying with some friends. I’ll follow up with another post soon to let you know how the rest of today goes!
Zooming out a bit, I’m treating this trip down to LA as a dry run (you hear that, rain?) for the rest of the trip back to Boston. It’s already been super useful to get a sense for what to expect during the Amtrak boarding process. Luckily I’m staying in the LA area for about 10 days — I’m giving research seminars at UCLA and Caltech while I’m down there — so I’ll have plenty of time to fine-tune my setup based on anything I learn today.
Finally, I wanted to say: thanks to everyone who has followed, liked, and commented on this blog so far! The next major leg of my adventure isn’t until the end of January, but in the meantime, I promise to do some posts about my itinerary, gear, the energy math of solar-powered mobility and cooking, and the “why” of all this. Stay tuned!
P.S. Huge shoutout to my friends Micah and Abe, who let me crash at their beautiful house for the past two weeks. I pretty much took over their downstairs space with equipment as I was planning this trip, and they didn’t blink an eye. Thanks a ton!
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