First Days in Los Angeles

Theresa, Lisa and I departed Union Station by train today. This is, I believe, the first time I have every taken an Amtrak train out of LA. This precludes the numerous light rail trains and subways I have frequented in my times in LA. Even though I am a big public transit enthusiast, this is my maiden venture.


Theresa and Lisa at Santa Monica Beach

Departing from Union Station was momentous. The building itself is wonderful and does not pale to some of the magnificent stations of Hamburg, Paris or Milan. In fact, I have never in all my travels through Europe seen a train station with such cool lounge chairs. A couple months ago I was in Paris and while waiting for our train, my friend and I had to sit on the cold ground because of a lack of seating. Not in LA, though. Here they have wide, leather, cushiony seats, fit for a living room in a ritzy Beverley Hills home. The wooden arm rests are wide enough for a latte and a bagel. The station has ornate, carved wood ceilings and fancy tiled floors.

Union Station was built back in the thirties, which is super old for California. The construction was approved by a ballot initiative in 1926. Isn’t that cool. A popular vote was initiated to decide on building the station. It was a time of rapid growth in the city, even though it was relatively small. In 1920 the city had only 570,000 residents and by 1930 it had more than doubled to 1.2 million.

We departed right on time and headed north west through Pasadena, Glendale and out towards Oxnard. The train was very slow and the route is very curvy, obviously not improved for speed. I would guess, in fact, that the route has not been improved upon in its entire history. It took us two hours to get to Oxnard, a trip that would take about an hour by car.

It was pretty luxurious on the train, though. The tracks are about 20 feet from the beach and we enjoyed watching the surf and the beachgoers from our double decker train.


Poster in Cafe in San Luis Obispo

It had been extremely hot in LA, way hotter than usual. But what’s usual in the day and age of climate change? I grew up in LA near the beach and it was never so hot and muggy. To avoid the heat everything is air conditioned. That’s also something I don’t remember as a kid. In the train there was cold air blowing down from the ceiling. I had to put my jacket and baseball cap on in hopes of not catching a cold. I hate it when I go into a store from the sweltering heat and get smacked in the face with ice cold air. I don’t know how the people manage not to get stiff necks and colds all the time. Not to mention the disastrous amounts of energy it wastes keeping these things blowing. I may end up living in California like a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf any time I go into a public building. We shall see.

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