Friday, August 01, 2008

Union Pacific

It's a beautiful thing to see a Union Pacific freight train, with its mostly sun-parched ochre tones, roll through the Salinas Valley, its mostly sun-parched ochre hills serving as the backdrop. This is one of the archetypal scenes the west, and while I'm not sure if hobos still ride boxcars, the spirit of that era seems to live on, at least in my head.

It's also a wonderful thing to be driving down a freeway alongside such a train, especially when it's going the same speed as you are. The freeway already provides a sense of collective motion, but when you add the train it's as though there's these two shifting parallel planes -- the plane of man-made transportation, and the plane of natural earth. I've had this experience in the Salinas Valley, and also along the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. Really it can work anywhere where river, road and railroad run alongside one another.


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