Not Snakes on a Plane…Just Freaks on a Train!

Stories from the road

Note: This piece was originally posted elsewhere on 7th November.

Not snakes on a plane…just freaks on a train!

I decided to complete an entire lap of the planet and have headed west to LA by train.
35 hrs.
2 nights in a sleeper car.
Strange happenings.

But first…

Parade Day

After the Royals won their first title in 30 years the city put on the mother of all victory parades.
I’ve never seen so much blue.
The KC metro area has a population of around 2,000,000 people.
It is estimated that 800,000 filled the city for the motorcade and victory rally.
There were 4 arrests.
Most of the area public schools closed for the day.
They had little choice…more than 400 teachers put in for leave.

KC Parade 1

KC Parade 2

KC Parade 3

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

The 5th of Nov this year made up 24 of the 35 hr train journey from KC to LA. After an amazing night’s sleep, watching the sky roll by as we crossed the plains of Missouri and Kansas, breakfast was served around the time that we ventured into Colorado.

The beauty of the dining car is that you never know who you will be seated with. My companions that morning were 2 middle aged women.
They were both heading to Albuquerque.
That is where the similarities ended.

F1 was from Ohio, a buddhist and meditation teacher of 20+ years
F2 was from parts unknown, opinionated, angry and hated everything that you ever did, said, or thought of doing or saying.

Her mouth would smile, but her eyes were full of nothing but contempt.
In the short time that we were together, she expressed her disdain for:

– the Dalai Lama
– the music scene in Austin, Texas
– Warren Buffett
– F1
– Me!

F1 excused herself first.
I asked F2 what she was going to do with her morning.

“I’m going to read and meditate to try and get over her (i.e. F1)…”
“…and you for that matter.”
I wished her the best for the exercise.
“Oh, I WILL be successful”, was her reply.

I know it takes all kinds…but does she really need to be one of them?

East Bumfuk, NM

Later that morning, somewhere in New Mexico (middle of nowhere) we made an unscheduled stop.
The train had hit a herd of deer.
After a quick check the engine was judged OK to continue.
Bambi was not.
They won’t be making a sequel to that movie anytime soon.
(Sorry kiddies)

Other notables

I had lunch with a group of Amish from Indiana.
They were getting off in Flagstaff (AZ) before catching a bus down to Phoenix for business. One couple is planning to take a cruise from the US to Australia and NZ.
They asked me about kangaroos.

And then there was Amtrak Tom.
Tom was the conductor responsible for my sleeper car.
Tom is large and loud.
Tom told me about his 8,000 slide ViewMaster collection.
I didn’t notice his ring finger, but I’m guessing that Tom is not married.
Tom is too much of a ladies man to be tied down.

(Hands up all those old enough to remember ViewMaster. All those with hands down…ask Google.)

In LA now.
Home on Monday.

Manhattan Beach, CA
Manhattan Beach, CA – “There’s never a mankini around when you need one!”

Don’t Fear the Reaper…Do Fear the Squirrels

Stories from the road

Note: This piece was originally posted elsewhere on 2nd November.

Don’t fear the reaper…Do fear the squirrels.

A squirrel update will follow, but first:

Baseball in Kansas City

The Royals are one win away from clinching their first World Series title since 1985. This could happen as early as tonight in New York, which would mean that my tickets for Games 6 & 7 would not be needed.

If my Game 2 experience is to be it, what is World Series baseball like in Kansas City?


Imagine going to a picnic with 40,000 members of your extended family.
You’re all there to celebrate your great aunt Ethel’s 90th birthday.
Everyone is relaxed, friendly, familiar.
Then, after a few beers, one of your uncles (and a couple of cousins that nobody talks about) commandeer the stereo so that it pumps out nothing but ACDC and Van Halen for the next 4 hours.
In the midst of all this a baseball game breaks out.
Win, lose or draw, everybody goes home having had a good time.

Lessons for the AFL

Things I liked about baseball at the ‘K’ more than football at the ‘G’:

– With my ticket I could enter the ground at any gate. ANY gate!
– Once inside I could walk the concourse the entire way around the field. In either direction. As many times as I liked.
– The area around the outfield bleachers is home to fountains, outdoor bars and family play areas.
– The ground staff were sooooooo friendly. Greeted with a smile and a hello, it took less than 2 minutes to enter the stadium, even though every spectator was checked with hand held metal detectors. The same staff were at the gates when leaving (with another smile) to wish everybody a safe trip home and a “hope to see you again soon”.

It made a nice change from the steel barriers and segregation of the MCG.

Fun Fact: Since 2011 the mayor of Kansas City has been a guy named Sly James. If his administration is ever toppled as a result of a corruption scandal, nobody should be surprised. Its right there in the name people!

All hail our tyrannical squirrel overlords!!!

I’ve written previously about the incalculable number of squirrels that inhabit Independence, MO. Turns out that it is much worse than I first feared.

As near as I can tell, squirrels are the dominant species in the local ecosystem.
They are organised into gangs that control entire neighbourhoods.
Each house within the operating zone is allocated a minimum of three squirrels.
You simply cannot walk by a front yard without seeing them at work (i.e. frolicking).


Why is this a problem?

I’m glad you asked.
Aside from the ever present threat of nut shortages, the squirrels are responsible for:

– bombarding parked vehicles with unwanted food and plant matter
– causing road accidents by gleefully prancing in front of traffic
– lost productivity by enticing passers-by to stay and watch their antics, thus delaying vital economic activity (hey…it happened to me)

From an outsider’s perspective, it is clear that the resident human population lives in constant fear. However, after discussions with a number of locals, it seems that they remain largely ignorant to the oppressive rule of their tyrannical squirrel overlords.

Its amazing what you can get away with if you are cute and cuddly.

fbc4998dafefb23d7e0f2de2db85c072  evil-squirrel


More to come.