Coast Starlight

      Traveling by train is for those that have time. It cost just the same as a flight but takes a lifetime in comparison to get to your destination. For an extended period of time you are forced to sit still and find things to occupy your mind and remain calm. This was my first experience riding a train, an experience that is old fashion but completely brand new.

     The entire 28 hour ride I sat next to a lady who seemed experienced in the art of traveling by train. She claimed a seat in the observation car for the whole ride and wrote, she wrote her heart out listening to music. Not one word fell out of her mouth. As I occasionally left to go to the cafe car to grab a snack or Bloody Mary, she calmly and wisely, as if nobody on the train existed, pulled out IPA after IPA from a travel cooler that she kept close by her side. This woman knew how to travel by train. She wrote, stared out of the window at the moving landscape, then plunged her head back into thought infested pages as her pen bled ink. 

     I wanted to write, but I couldn't. The world passing by was too amazing to look away. Providing the soundtrack to my life, I threw on an oldies playlist as the first day's sun was setting. "Aaaaaaatttttttttttttt lasssssssssssst... my love has come along." The air is thick and heavy with the setting sun's golden hue, I could feel it's warm embrace against my skin. The train is moving at a slow pace now, progressively getting slower and slower. Looking out of the window I could see dilapidated houses fit for what once was a working class family. Swing sets with broken chains, yards un kept. Crawling even slower, the train passes a parking structure of a hotel, we are getting closer into a town. Two kids bravely standing on the top story ledge waved at us as the momentum of the train pulled us pass the two kids in the highlight of their afternoon, I waved back. Slower now, the train's rhythm has now matched "At Last." I look down beside the train as we pass the guard rail of a freeway on ramp. No more than five feet away is a homeless man laying in his cardboard shelter shielded by the guard rail on the opposite side, serving as protection from the hot sun and speeding cars. His toes are within inches of the train tracks as he stretches out on the dirt to rest. I look to make I contact with the man, but he does not care for any of it as he nestled into comfort with eyes closed and a smile open. I feel something inside. I look around the car to see if anyone else is experiencing this, no one. I turn back toward the fast setting sun. The train moves even slower as to make sure I don't miss any of this. I want to get out my camera, but there is no time. I see a mexican food hole in the wall and my stomach begins to growl. I read the name of the place, before I could lock in the title to memory my attention is taken away by the two men in aprons standing behind the proprietorship. One man hands the other a giant bottle and darts back into the restaurant. The other, still standing beside a cargo truck, knocks back his head and takes a swig from an Costco industrial sized bottle of Jack Daniels. "At Last" it's over, the train station reads "Salinas, CA." 

     No pictures were taken, all I could do was think. So I sat there and thought. This is what I want to capture out of life. Life itself and the realities within which everyone allows themselves to live in. I was inspired. I went to bed thinking about how can I capture that experience into a photo. I also thought about LA, already feeling nostalgic for life there. When I am not there, it is where I want to be. When I am there all I want to do is get the fuck out! I expressed this to my father while we spent some time together and the old man said "You have the Dorothy Syndrome." I couldn't tell if he was poking fun at me or if he was serious, so I asked what the fuck does that mean? He said "You always want life over the rainbow, but once you are there... you realize there is no place like home."

     The next day I woke up to the trains steady rhythmic motion. The sun was barely coming over the horizon to the east in a dark red cloud as though the sky was bleeding from an explosion. I looked to the west and there was a rainbow stretching out over a lake. I had spent so much time on that train around the same people in such a small confined space with nothing to do but think and imagine. My reality was blending with my dreams. I then turned to the person sitting next to me who was awake drinking coffee, "Where are we?" She replies, "We are in Oregon." 

Union Station LA
For more photos or quick videos you can check out the trip on vine or instagram  http://instagram.com/matthoulemard

For more photos or quick videos you can check out the trip on vine or instagram 

http://instagram.com/matthoulemard