February 10, 2008

A weekend in the hometown

I took the time to go visit my extended family in my hometown this weekend. Saturday morning, I rose early, loaded 4 bags on my back, and boarded Amtrak.

I couldn't make the kiosk print my ticket, but, frustrated with how my morning was going, I boarded anyways.

Imagine my surprise (after recent air travel) when the conductor listened to me explain my problem, called ahead to another stop, had them print my ticket, and brought it to me over an hour later -- more than an hour on the train, by trust alone! Between that, and the 3 hours of work I was able to do (woo-hoo! 15 EDA contracts reviewed from front to back!) I was ready to sing the praises of Amtrak as America's best commercial carrier.

But, before I could declare it the best travel experience ever, today happened. Apparently, I picked a bad day to head back to the bay area from Capitol City. Upon arrival at the local station, where I had a reserved ticket on a bus, I found a taxi, totally full, and a taxi driver explaining that another taxi would be there in 15 to 20 minutes, because the bus had been full since Reno, NV and now he was full, too.

Thankfully, brother drove me to the Sacramento station, and I caught my train with 3 minutes to spare (the 15 minute wait for the taxi would have meant I was on the next train, 6 hours later!). But, what do you know, when boarding the train, I had to do epic battle with thousands of high schoolers. I felt like I was 20, traveling on my euro-rail pass. Only I had chosen to take the train to work instead of save money and the kids really didn't feel like my soul-mates so much. I kind of hated them.

Nerdy High Schoolers

I recognized my former self in the crowd many times. Overly wordy. Full of ideas but a little low on experience. Loudly discussing topics that seem *very* cerebral. I have no idea what they were there for, or where they were going. But they took over my train and spoke of books, math, music, and well, frankly, I could have used a little less of that. They bumped into me regularly. They played music through their ipods headphones as if they were speaakers. I'm horrid, but I must admit, between the high school brigade and the infant screeching, I lost a little bit of the love for Amtrak.

Thankfully, the rest of my weekend was fabulous. Highlights included:

- bowling alley 6-yr-old birthday party for my niece, where I got to see mom, sister, and brother, plus I got to know some of brother's and neice's friends, and enjoyed being an aunt.

- lazy dinner at home with brother and neice, catching up, eating, and relaxing.

- amazingly perfect weather and gorgeous views of the countryside while doing a morning 15-mile run through the sierra nevada foothill towns of Loomis, Penryn, and Newcastle, culminating in an emotionally draining, but gorgeous visit to Dad's gravesite, where brother and neice came to meet me and drive me back to the shower (how awesome is that?). [On a side note: Foothills are real hills. They will slow you down. That is all.]

- A delicious stylized sushi lunch with brother and neice.

- Coming home to a Cupig valentine's day card from my aunt (yeah, that's right the Cupig meme lives on).

Overall, it was a very productive weekend, on the family side as well as the work side (I busted out two edited contracts upon arrival back home this weekend, plus diligence on the train).

This week? Well, it promises to keep me busy with running, life, and work, if nothing else...

Happy almost cupig day, y'all!

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