The Big Bend country still blooms with yucca and leafed out ocotillo - and the pronghorns graze in healthy herds. The desert sunset flamed scarlet and purple just as it does in my memory. I've enjoyed the meals, even the ritual of sitting with strangers to dine - hearing snippets of people's stories - retired couples who travel often by train for pleasure, a young woman going back home from Arizona to see her parents in California after a year a way working, a New Yorker who was in the World Trade Towers when the plan tit, got out right away, didn't talk about it more, had more to say about the difficulty of getting a decent apartment in the city.
The train was delayed getting up the California coast by broken track and freight trains, I loved it that lateness didn't really matter to me - for me. I loved not being trapped by time - was a little nervous about making connecting train to Irvine, but made it - odd to shift back into high speed on the commuter train - everyone counting minutes, noticing stops imperative, but I managed to keep up with all my pieces, to call Peggy and let her know I was arriving.
It was odd to ride the fast train through Orange County, where I grew up. The classic Spanish train station in Fullerton hasn't changed, and orange groves still look and smell like orange groves, but there aren't nearly as many of them. The countryside is so developed - just covered with houses and businesses- lots of uniformity in construction. And the smog is familiar, though it wasn't bad - mild really - just a familiar haze.
Peggy's house is beautiful - one of those houses tended and developed by the creative family that lives there - full of the art of family members - and her garden is lush with color, the pond she and Steve built jumping with bright colored koi they have named, their big dog Kiddo engaging and funny, but polite. It felt good to be among new friends in a very casual, comfortable atmosphere - really sweet.