The Crowded Restroom, Stable Central Valley and Sac’tology

May 11, 2023, Sacramento- The congenial man, who seemed to be in his 50s, entered the crowded restroom, as I was shaving after the long train ride from Flagstaff. LA is LA, and Union Station is as much a place where street people can purchase a decent snack or light meal, and take care of their business in a socially acceptable manner, as it is a place for train passengers to meet their needs. The man looked about, did his business and thanked me for being understanding. Trust, me, I have been there, (though I have never used his particular method), no one was bothered and no further details are needed.

He was followed by a man who expectorated a substance that should never be in the body of any human being. He left, and I found some tissue to safely clean the residue and throw it in the trash. The gentleman at the sink next to mine, also a street person, remarked that I treated the other guy better than he would have. It struck me that the poor soul has probably not caught a break in quite a few years. There was plenty of soap and water to take care of matters, and I am no worse for the wear. The third guy and I went to the snack shop, once I was clean shaven. It’s as fine a thing to have friends on the street, as anywhere else.

Union Station does have its paying guests enter secure waiting areas. Guards check tickets and, on occasion, IDs. I thanked the young man who kept our gate. He looked surprised, but felt glad to be appreciated, I’m sure. We rolled out of Union Station, in a chartered bus, right on time. I got a fair look at downtown Los Angeles, from a northbound perspective.

East Building, Union Station, Los Angeles, seen from a chartered bus.

The journey through San Fernando Valley certainly had its share of mountain scenery and interesting buildings, but I chose not to take any more haphazard shots, whilst the bus was in motion. We rode through forested mountains, then promontories shorn of all vegetation, save grass, until we came to Grapevine, and the southern edge of Central Valley. An hour or so later, Bakersfield, a surprisingly vibrant and attractive city, came into view and we swapped out the bus for a train that was headed for Oakland.

Being a local train, we hit every major city and a good many smaller ones, before arriving in Stockton, my transfer point for Sacramento, about ten minutes late-due to the demands made by freight trains (pride of place, you know). All the areas visible from the train appeared to be in good shape, the waterways were at a comfortable level and the crops were all on track-though I know there are other fields, elsewhere in the bread basket, that will not be as productive this year. Fresno, Madera and Modesto all seem quite bustling. Stockton is a bit under the weather, and there were a fair number of tents along the sidewalk near the train station there.

Sacramento had experienced tremors from a 5.4 earthquake, whose epicenter was near Lake Amador, quite a way to the northeast. I spoke with a man named Max, who had been on the thirteenth floor of a state office building, paying his taxes, when the tremor hit. He hadn’t been so scared since 2001, he told me. He was at Ground Zero, when the towers fell, so he comes by the fright quite honestly, in my book. I told him I was glad he’s okay and went on to check out the state capitol and its grounds. “Sac’to” has a rather interesting vibe to its downtown. Here are some photos of the area, as I was on solid ground and could again focus the camera in a proper manner.

Front room, HI Sacramento, where I spent the night and will return on Monday afternoon.
HI Sacramento’s exterior. Across the street is Sacramento City Hall, with probably the neatest and cleanest tent camp I’ve seen. It is not impossible for street people to be orderly, much as i long for the day when no one feels it necessary to live on the street.
Elks Building, downtown Sacramento
The city’s namesake, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
The State Capitol of California, seen from the north. It is under construction on the east side.
Sweet fragrances adorn the west side of the Capitol.
California Live Oaks and Incense Cedars offer a wealth of shade on the East Lawn.
Lastly, the First Nations of California have not gone away.
The Capitol bid us good night, and now I do too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.