We just got back from a 3-day trip by train from Denver to Glenwood Springs to hike and play tourist.
We were on the California Zephyr, about a six-and-a-half hour ride each way (if it's on time.) We went there to do the famous Hanging Lake Hike, a short, steep hike in Glenwood Canyon (and up Dead Horse Creek) to see this:Hanging Lake.Spouting Rock, just above the lake.
It was a great hike on a perfect, blue-sky day. Mid-week in May, we saw virtually no one and had the lake to ourselves most of the time.
We left Thurs. for the trip back at about the same time the news story was breaking on the media that the late Osama bin Ladin had planned to target trains in future attacks.The eastbound California Zephyr "No. 6" pulling into the historic Glenwood Springs station to take us back to Denver.
So my topic question
isn't whether we should be able to take TASERS on the train to protect ourselves from Al Queda terrorism, but if maybe we can at least carry childrens-strength TASERS (you know, like aspirin) to protect us from terroristic tykes. Let me explain:
They assign you seats on full California Zephyrs, and we had seats 61 and 62 in our car. Great! We were at least together and on the right side like we wanted for the scenery's sake.
And then ... he appeared:
He really was a cute little kid. He was traveling with his grandmother, at least that's what he called her, although it might have been part of an elaborate ruse. She must have picked him up out west and was taking him back to Denver to babysit for a time.
At first, the incredible scenery of Glenwood Canyon preoccupied him:Along the Colorado.
So my wife Debbie went to the snack bar in the observation car and bought us a couple small bottles of wine to go with the snacks we had bought. I took a quaint pic of our picnic -- at least the liquid part -- (since I obviously was taking pix of everything else.)
Yet despite that beautiful scenery . . .
. . . our little friend in front of us soon grew bored of the views and discovered the back-recline button to his seat. They're great seats -- as good as business class on any airplane -- but a little dated and defective. When you pull the back-recline button the back catapults forward jarring the tray table behind. I did not
take a photo of both mini-bottles and the two wine glasses (that we'd bought at a Glenwood thrift store for 50-cents each) flying up and hitting the floor, white wine everywhere.
Okay, I admit that was my fault. Debbie had even warned me, at least she said that she did when she went back to the observation car to get us a couple replacement bottles of that semi-swill that was priced like liquid gold.
The travelers in front of us went on a tour, and we had a nice lunch -- alone, with wine -- in our seats.Heeeee's back.
We both have those "noise-cancelling" earphones bought when my wife had to commute from Miami to Denver for a year. They had proven extremely useful on the 8.5 hour outbound trip to Glenwood Springs when we were seated in-between the running commentary of two women (retired) sitting across the aisle and behind us. These two Chatty Cathys would not give it a rest, even when we were mooned trainside by some huge guy as we slowed coming into Winter Park. The husbands of our commentators were men of few words -- or they had given up over time trying to get a word in edgewise.
Returning to the return trip, my small friend in front began spending an inordinate amount of time not looking out, but back:
He would inevitably and repeatedly point at me and ask a question, and I'd lift an earpiece, cancelling the "noise cancelling," to hear him say: "What you listening to on yo' ipod?"
I've got to admit that this kid really was cute -- even Debbie admitted it, and he reminded me of that child actor in "Sixth Sense," only I think this kid was pointing at me and changing the famous line to "I see dumb people."
This shot appears to show our terrorist has dozed off:
But that's not the case. He's actually preparing for his acrobatic maneuver of doing a reverse heels-over-head somersault in his seat, ending with his feet firmly planted on the back of the seat of the man in front of him. By his sixth one, he had pretty much perfected it. He then figured out how to reach behind his seat and release my tray table with a twist of the latch -- and he then moved onto reaching clear over and pushing the buttons on my ipod -- probably looking for Raffi -- while I tried to doze.
His most impressive move was teetering over us while kneeling on his seat back:
Which I told Debbie I still preferred over the tapping I watched him do on the back of the head of the guy -- about my age -- in front of him. I felt no pity since his victim still had lots more hair than I did.
If you're wondering what the grandmother was doing during all this the answer is not much. Debbie told me the story of having a kid constantly kicking her seat on a long commuter flight with his parents sitting there beside him. She said that on the hundredth kick she reached back and grabbed his foot in mid-strike and said, "Kick my seat one more time and you're going to lose that foot." She neither heard nor felt anything from him for the rest of the flight.Taking this, I was a little worried by my wife's wild look in her eyes. I think she had gone through all the white wine on the train and had to switch to red.
Finally, we came out of the foothills and did the big S-curve into Denver; that familiar skyline never looked so good.
When we disembarked, we were accosted by a news crew asking us if we had felt threatened while on the train. At first I wasn't sure what they were alluding to -- that kid in front of us? -- but I realized it concerned the still-dead Osama bin Laden's plan to bomb trains. My inane answer even made the evening news,
on the Fox channel no less. But hey, I sounded dumb because I was exhausted.