By JC L'Angelle
(c) 2014--All Rights Reserved
"PAVLOV IS COMING"
Dec 28th, (1989) Thursday: 630 PM PST-- Train Station; Reno, NV--waiting for eastbound to New
York City. Weather outside; cloudy, breezy, cool. Town full of gamblers. Betty Ann,
artist, dropped C:Opr off for ticket to Chicago plus round-trip return from Penn. Sta.,
Saw Angel at Board of Trade, "New York's a rough town,
California Zephyr"--all these West Coast implants have an opinion about a place they've
hardly been. Not surprised. All they want is a warm place to flake out, some dumb squeeze
who'll kowtow and a few sycophants.
Announcement: "726 PM, #6 train arrival. Train will leave in one hour."
Betty Ann is the only one who encouraged trip--all the deadbeats want to do is die in
"What do I do with this ticket, Angel? Give it away?" Saigon was a rough town too.
Called Sacramento, talked to the Greek's girl, got his phone # in Chicago. Told her to
relay the message, "Pavlov is coming."
Carry nothing but a blank, hard-covered logbook & guitar; that should get heavy a few days
after lugging it around the city. Train station not too crowded, a couple families and a
few foreigners, nowhere a trumpeted sendoff. Last time this trip was made, to Denver, was
just before joining the USMC in 1965.
725PM--where does the inspiration come from sitting around in a cow town waiting for a
train to the big city? Reading NY Times makes traveler want to cash in ticket and stay
home. People are on the move, this is it. Impatient idiots jump the gun--what's the hurry?
We'll be sitting in the damn thing for days.
730PM--on board #6 facing east. Crying baby a few seats up but sound is muffled quite
well. Incredible amount of leg room. Luxury travel compared to bus. Alot of room, club and
dining cars just to rear--will check them out when train in motion.
California Zephyr-seat #16, aisle. Sparks stop-15 min. to service train. Movie will start
in lounge car immediately following stop. Why the hell would anyone want to see a movie on
a train? Even if its dark, it must be a riot to look out the window at nothing.
Black porter walks past. "Last call for dinner in the dining car-dining room will be
closed in 20 minutes." AQuiet otherwise.
So long Reno! Look back at downtown Saprks-move slow past tank farm, kid will whine
forever up front.
Enroute; crybaby wants his babydoll, noises.
1.) postcards; 2.) get sleeper into NYC-if nec. better than bus $150.
Dark: displacement of Pavlov C:Opr by nearly 3000 mileson globe, roughly same lat.
Late Night: Lounge car, empty except for one passed out drunk and a couple chatting
watching the last rerun of "Field of Dreams" otherwise the car is empty. Lights of
Winnemucca fade into background following brief stop. Train is making remarkable time,
could sit here all night and write. An oasis of light outside the window in the pitch
black night hangs in view for what seems like a decade before dropping, like others
Dec 29th, Friday: 640AM MST; Salt Lake--not quite sunrise, cold (30 degrees); some clouds,
smoggy. Can't see much of the city from the train station, an old two story brick building
with big arch windows facing the city. tried to get a Chicago to New York connection with
no luck. Black conductress won't let travelers back on train train #6, the Cal Zephyr, for
45 minutes. All there is for food; a little junkwagon the "Creasy Catering Inc.", don't
they mean "Greasy?"
(Drawing of train stn. labelled "Utah State Historical Society.")
Hardly the big time place heard on TV, radio, in books--Salt Lake is surprisingly small. A
few skyscrapers in the distance beyond the station, but the Amtrak station itself is small
with no restaurant, or at least it was closed. Sometimes expectations end up being just
Back on #6, a small line has formed in lounge near back by dining car, early birds, as
train starts to move east again. Big white light Christmas tree atop downtown bldg. Left
in the dust of great Salt Lake. A whole lot of beat up buildings make up outskirts.
(Drawing of newsracks)
7M Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, sausage; daybreak, hazy, sit near kitchen,
mark own check. Coffee good and hot. Waitress in official Amtrak blue. Still on the
eastern outskirts. Breakfast delivered with bacon instead of sausage. $4.75, a bargain.
Back to lounge car, cloudy, hazy outside. Interstate traffic parallels train on n. side of
Provo--before the outskirts of Salt Lake have disappeared, the Zephyr brakes to a halt at
this cowtown. Dirt, rocks, bombed out building, looks like Reno. #6 halts in front of
"Norton Fruit Company", scrawled on the concrete roadblock, "Dean Moriarty?" further down
as train rolls
"Where are you?"
Sharpen conductress' pencil for her. Travellers are so easily entertained by the few deer
along the tracks. A couple complain about delays they've encountered; the hazards of
flying and the impossibility of winter driving. Well stay home and die then!
No birds. Appears to be a break in cloud layer on other side of this endless climb to
nameless summit. Expect to see angels and God soon. Alot of shrubs, other than pine trees,
snow, a row of telephone poles, total lack of birds.
Solar disk peeks out from clouds for first time. Doesn't Bob Redford ride his horse around
up here in the stix? Railbox marks "summit." A couple of shacks that ought to have outlaws
holing up in them. Same movie is playing out windows on other side of coach. Fences in
dire need of repair through this God-forsaken stretch, certainly no lack of wilderness to
CONTINUED: "ANOTHER PRETTY FACE"